Friday, April 17, 2009

Plan to re-brand outlawed Hindraf

Malaysiakini- Athi Veeranggan Apr 17, 09 4:08pm

The move by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) chairperson P Waythamoorthy to dismantle its 10-member coordination committee is a strategy to re-brand the movement as both a human rights activist group and a political party.Refuting claims that trouble was brewing within the Hindraf ranks, the movement's outgoing national coordinator RS Thanenthiran said the new plan was to strengthen Hindraf position in the political mainstream.He said he and London-based Waythamoorthy had deliberated and discussed lengthily over the plan when both met in Tamil Nadu, India in January this year."The new plan is being carried out by our leader Waythamoorthy in full knowledge of all local leaders."We were not dropped from Hindraf leadership, nor the movement is breaking up," he said, while rubbishing claims of fallout between local coordinators and Waythamoorthy.

He said Hindraf had originally intended to activate its new plan early this year but shelved it due to unfolding political events, such as the recent by-elections in Bukit Selambau, Bukit Gantang and Batang Ai and the transition of power in Putrajaya political corridor."It's common to hear speculations that trouble was brewing in Hindraf for some people always wanted to destroy the movement, which had emerged as an Achilles' heel to the ruling Barisan Nasional," Thanenthiran told Malaysiakini.Since the government crackdown on Hindraf in December 2007, following a mammoth rally in Kuala Lumpur on Nov 25 the same year, Waythamoorthy has been operating Hindraf in exile from United Kingdom with help of local leaders such Thanenthiran.

‘We need a lawful avenue'

Hindraf was instrumental in inspiring the political thunderbolt that change the country's political landscape in last year's general election, in which the opposition Pakatan Rakyat achieved unprecedented electoral gains.However, Hindraf activists felt their wings have been clipped when the Home Ministry banned the unregistered human rights movement in October last year."The ban has become a hindrance to our struggle for peace, justice, freedom and equality."We need a lawful avenue now to continue our struggle for the betterment of the Indian community and other underprivileged people in the country."We also need a political platform to strengthen our bargaining power with other political parties."Thus, we want to rebrand Hindraf the movement with perhaps another inspirational name and form an Indian-based multi-racial political party interlinked with each other," said Thanenthiran.He explained the movement top leaders were keen to change its name to stop several quarters from misusing and abusing the term ‘Hindraf' and its other common name, ‘Makkal Sakti' (people's power)."It has become a fashion now for many irresponsible characters to claiming as leaders of Hindraf or Makkal Sakti."We want to resolve this once for all to ensure that Hindraf stand as one for all," said the Butterworth-based Thanenthiran.

The Indian experience

Hindraf's political party and human rights movement linkage will be in the similar mould like India's Barathiya Janata Party (BJP), Rashtriya Sivam Sewak (RSS) and Viswa Hindu Parishad (VHP).Most BJP political leaders are derived from the ranks of RSS and VHP leaders.With RSS and VHP as pressure groups, BJP has emerged as a disciplined, strong, dynamic and progressive political force in India.Indeed, BJP is the favourite to re-capture the federal government in on-going Indian general election.Thanenthiran said Hindraf had hatched the new plan after listening various views and opinions from politicians, social reformists and human rights activists at home and abroad.Claiming that Hindraf has some 100,000 staunch activists, he said Hindraf would hold a series of meetings with the movement grassroots leaders and supporters to explain the new plan."I would like to appeal to all Hindraf leaders and supporters to remain calm and patient, and not listen to rumours and speculations."They should only listen and act on Waythamoorthy official statements on the issue," said Thanenthiran.

Earlier today, Waythamoorthy suspended the movement's 10 state and national coordinators with immediate effect and replaced them with a three-man interim committee.Among those dropped from the line-up included Thanenthiran who had been helming the group locally while Waythamoorthy was leading from London. Waythamoorthy has also put a gag order on the dropped coordinators.