Denying reports that Prof Sivathambi will not be attending, Chie Minister M Karunanidhi has said the scholar has written to him, agreeing to take part and even suggested topics for discussion.
In a statement, he has said those who are spreading reports that Prof Sivathambi would not take part are acting as stumbling blocks to his efforts to promote Tamil.
" Mr Sivathambi himself has informed us that he will be present well in time for arrangements to be made for the research session. He has also indicated five subjects for discussion", Mr Karunanidhi said.
In yet another interview to a pro-Tamil website as recently as last Saturday, the scholar had said he would not take part in the conference organised by the DMK Government and that he had written to the conference organiser, Thanjavur University Vice-Chancellor M Rajendran, expressing dissatisfaction over the stand taken by Mr Karunanidhi on the Sri Lankan Tamil issue.
J Jayalalitha pointing out that only the Japan-based International Association of Tamil Research was authorised to hold the conference and countries could only play host. She also questioned Mr Karunanidhi's moral right to host such a conference after having remained silent when Malaysian Tamils took to the streets to fight for their rights and more recently when Tamil civilians were put to untold hardship during the last stages of the Eelam war.
The IATR refused to be presented with a fait accompli and its president Noboru Karashima said it would need at least a year to prepare the conference. Not willing to wait till January 2011 as the next Assembly elections were due in April that year, Mr Karunanidhi put it off to June 2010 and renamed it as World Classical Tamil conference, thus accepting Ms Jayalalitha's contention that only the IATR is authorised to hold such a conference.
At the same time, he pointed out that even when she hosted the last conference held in Tamil Nadu in 1995, she only got post-facto approval from IATR.
The latest to be caught in this battle between Mr Karunanidhi and the opposition is Mr Sivathambi. Now that Mr Karunanidhi has said he has agreed to attend, it is left to the scholar to explain what made him change his mind after having gone public with his reluctance to take part.
The 77-year-old professor emiritus of the Jaffna University, who is also the secretary-general of the IATR, has often been accused by critics of being subservient to powers-that-be and sailing with the wind.
- Asian Tribune -