Bengaluru: Sri Lankan cricket legend Muttiah Muralitharan is in the news once again for the wrong reasons. The "Doosra" master, who has taken 800 Test Wickets and was also a part of the 1996 World Cup that was won by the island nation, is facing the ire of fellow Tamil citizens over reports of him being appointed as the Governor of Tamil-dominated Northern Province.
Murali, an Indian Tamil from up country Kandy, is the most prominent Tamil personality to openly back Gotabaya Rajapaksa who has won the recent Presidential election.
The political circles are abuzz with rumours of Murali joining the newly-elected Rajapaksa presidency as the governor of the province, full of Sri Lankan Tamils.
Even though there is no official confirmation about his appointment, the northern province Tamils are already expressing their opposition to his nomination.
Murali's stand on alleged war crimes against the Tamils committed during the tenure of Gotabaya as Defence secretary under the presidency of his elder brother Mahinda Rajapaksa between 2005 and 2015 has angered the Tamils — both Sri Lankan and Indian Tamils who are about 12% of the island nation's total population.
Sri Lankan Tamils are the native Tamils who live in North and East of Sri Lanka. Indian Tamils are indentured labourers from Tamil Nadu, who migrated to the island, during the British rule to work in tea estates in the Highlands of Sri Lanka. Murali is an Indian Tamil.
Murali has always maintained that there were no war crimes.
"There were no war crimes and no genocide is his public stand. How can he say this? Is not he himself a Tamilian? We are thoroughly disappointed with him. He is doing it to be in the good books Rajapaksas. It is terrible," said a Tamil journalist from Kandy.
"It is like adding insult to injury. Tamils in the north suffered the most under Gotabaya. More than 80% voted against him this time. Murali is disliked by them," said a Colombo-based Sri Lankan Tamil, who did not want to reveal his name.
According to Gotabaya's close circle, it is true that the president wants to reward Murali with a political post befitting his stature, it is not yet clear whether he will be made the Governor of Northern Province.
"The news is already leaked. Perhaps, the government is testing the mood. Since there is already so much opposition, he may not be made a Governor. He may get something else. May be an Ambassadorial post," said a senior Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader.
It seems Murali's "doosra" has gone off the mark, for the first time.