Chennai: Slamming the NDA government on fishermen issue, BJP ally Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) on Tuesday said it is "playing with the lives of Indian fishermen" and its UPA-like approach towards Sri Lanka had emboldened Colombo to treat them (fishermen) with disdain.
Alleging that Modi government was "playing" with the lives of Indian fishermen, MDMK founder Vaiko said, "I ask the Modi government...Why are you insisting with defence ties with Sri Lanka even after this...The lives of Tamil fishermen should not be taken lightly. If the NDA follows the UPA policy on Sri Lanka, the Tamil youth will not tolerate that."
The statement comes in the backdrop of five Indian fishermen being awarded death penalty by a Sri Lankan court for drug-trafficking last week.
Slamming the Centre on ties with Colombo, from inviting its President Mahinda Rajapaksa for Modi's swearing-in to the continued defence ties, Vaiko said despite these, Chinese naval ships had recently berthed in Sri Lankan waters, which he said was a direct threat for Tamil Nadu.
"Such an approach by the Modi government towards Sri Lanka was a reason for the five fishermen being awarded death penalty as Rajapaksa controlled his country's judiciary," he told reporters after spearheading a protest here against the court verdict.
He warned that the Centre may have to face the consequences of such an approach towards Sri Lanka.
Vaiko had been critical of UPA government's "friendly" relations with Sri Lanka, including maintaining defence ties, and had accused it of aiding Colombo in its pursuit against the rebel LTTE, with the last leg of hostilities in 2009 witnessing heavy civilian casualties when Rajapaksa was President.