While 'Tamil Eelam' remains a goal, the immediate priority was to discuss steps to improve the livelihood of Tamils the DMK leader stressed

While maintaining that a separate Tamil Eelam was his "unfulfilled dream", DMK president M. Karunanidhi on Monday said the Tamil Eelam Supporters Organisation Conference (TESO) slated for August 12 in Chennai would not adopt any resolution seeking creation of a separate 'Eelam'.

He, however, rejected the suggestion that the DMK had succumbed to pressure from the Centre and changed its mind on the Tamil Eelam issue. "There is no pressure from the Centre. Don’t imagine anything on your own," he said, while clarifying that the issue did not figure during his meeting with Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram on Sunday.

Mr. Karunanidhi’s remarks came a day after Mr. Chidambaram called on him. DMK sources had said on Sunday that Mr. Chidambaram had explained the extension of the ban on the LTTE. The meeting had sparked speculation that the Centre had sought to prevail on the DMK not to adopt any resolution at the TESO conference calling for the creation of independent Tamil state.

However, answering a question, Mr. Karunanidhi said he could not be cowed down by any pressure.

"The concept of a separate Eelam is still there. But there is no proposal to stress the issue and organise protests in support of the cause," Mr Karunanidhi told reporters at Anna Arivalayam. He also released the theme-paper on the TESO conference.

He said the immediate priority was to discuss and take steps to improve the livelihood of the Tamils and to mitigate their sufferings in the aftermath of the decimation of the militant groups in Sri Lanka.

"The conference will take into consideration the views and opinions of its participants and take steps to alleviate the sufferings of Tamils through non-violent means," he further said.

When reminded about his speech in a public meeting that the central theme of the TESO conference was the creation of a separate Eelam, Mr. Karunanidhi said while nobody was against getting a separate Eelam, one must take into consideration the current situation in the country.

Making a comparison between India’s struggle for independence and the efforts to create a separate Eelam, the DMK leader said India had launched various struggles in various forms for many years to achieve the goal of independence.

"Similar is the case with a separate Eelam," he added.

To persistent queries on whether the DMK was changing its stand on the idea of 'Eelam', Mr Karunanidhi said he was not sidestepping the issue.

"A separate Eelam may be a reality one day. But I don’t expect it to happen a day after the TESO conference. There is a time-frame for everything," he said.

Asked about the extension of ban on the LTTE, he refused to comment on the issue.

To a question whether there was any need for extending the ban when the Sri Lankan government itself had declared that it had decimated the LTTE and killed its leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, Mr. Karunanidhi said the issue concerned two countries and it was for the Tamil Nadu government to take a decision on the issue.

Mr Karunanidhi made it clear that his party was against the idea of an armed struggle. "When you compare the military strength of the Sri Lankan Army and the militant groups, it was clear that the Sri Lankan government would ultimately prevail. I have been stressing the point from the beginning," he said.

Union Minister Sharad Pawar, Janata Dal (U) leader Sharad Yadav, former minister Ram Vilas Paswan, former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Farooq Abdullah, Sri Lankan MPs, including R. Sampathan and representatives from various countries will take part in the conference.