May Day: path for ushering unity
It is due to the emergence of Mahinda Rajapaksa as President in 2005
and due to certain policies adopted by the United National Party from
time to time, that its political base collapsed. Minority groups
distanced themselves from the UNP and joined the United People's Freedom
Alliance and the Tamil and Muslim political parties. Prior to this, the
Sri Lanka Freedom Party had only imported Tamil and Muslim Members of
Parliament. The Sri Lanka Freedom Party did not have a Muslim Member of
Parliament elected by the popular vote, except Minister A. H. M. Fowzie.
C. Kumarasuriar was an appointed Member of Parliament during the time of
But now all this has changed. Even the Tamil people of Colombo did
not vote for the UNP at the 2005 election. On the other hand, the Tamil
and Muslim base in the UNP has started to dwindle. In addition, the
Sinhala Buddhist vote base in the UNP is also eroding. It seems that it
is to protect this voter base that the Deputy Leader of the United
National Party Sajith Premadasa is making a great effort.
Therefore, it is like the Leader and the Deputy Leader addressed
these two voter bases in different ways through the Jaffna May Day rally
and the Premadasa commemoration ceremony in Colombo. At the same time,
this year's May Day goes into history as a one in which the split in the
UNP was clearly evident.
On the other hand, the United People's Freedom Alliance has become
successful in consolidating with the representation of all different
nationalities. It is a victory achieved by that party to have a Tamil
organizer representing the Jaffna district attending the rally in the
Colombo Municipal grounds with a group of Tamils from Jaffna under the
Sri Lanka Freedom Party banner when Minister Douglas Devananda was
holding a separate May Day rally in Jaffna.
When Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe went to Jaffna to hold a
joint May Day rally with the Tamil National Alliance to win over the
Tamil population of Jaffna, President Mahinda Rajapaksa was successful
in getting down the supporters of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party in Jaffna
to Colombo. Similarly, some Opposition groups raised doubts recently
whether the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress will leave the government on the
issue of Dambulla. From the speech delivered by the leader of the Muslim
Congress at the May Day rally, it became clear that it was only a dream.
The Muslim Congress leader has entrusted the decision on the Dambulla
mosque issue to President Mahinda Rajapaksa. They are prepared to accept
whatever the decision the President will make. Therefore, the future
politics of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress will be decided only in the
shade of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
In the meantime, we do not know whether the United National Party
went to Jaffna to resurrect the lost voter base in Jaffna or whether
they were sent there by a foreign force. Sometimes, both may be the
reasons for their visit to Jaffna. It is in such a background that
former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Muthuvel Karunanidhi called for an
Eelam conference. At this conference he has called upon the United
Nations, the United States and the Indian government to mediate for
holding a referendum for establishing a Tamil Eelam.
It need not be mentioned that he will get the support of the overseas
Tamil Diaspora on this matter. At present, extremist political elements
in Tamil Nadu are collaborating with the pro- LTTE Diaspora.
At the time Karunanidhi was talking about a Tamil Eelam, a group of
Indian Parliamentary representatives that visited Sri Lanka upon
returning to India, said that none of the political leaders in Sri Lanka
talked to them about a Tamil Eelam. The statement made by the Member of
Parliament of the Indian Communist Party T. K. Rangarajan in this regard
is very important. He said that Tamil National Alliance leader R.
Sambanthan told him: "I was born as a Sri Lankan. I will die as a Sri
Lankan and I do not need an Eelam." It was this Sambandhan who joined
hands with Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe in Jaffna on May 1 and
raised high the Lion Flag of Sri Lanka. It may be a significant event
for a person who impartially analyses the May Day rallies this year. At
the same time the statement made by the leader of the Tamil National
Alliance R. Sambandan at the May Day rally is important for all those
who do politics in this country.
"We should live in unity. We should work by thinking anew. On this
May Day it has been shown that all people can live in brotherhood. Some
political parties hold May Day rallies to create divisions among the
people. They think that if the communities are divided it will be easy
for them to take forward their political projects. After the 2010
General Election, we announced that we will support the government to
find political solutions for the Tamil people. Several steps were also
taken in this regard. We announced to the government that we will
support a political solution within a united Sri Lanka". (Extract from
R. Sambandan's May Day speech - Lankadeepa May 2, 2012)
Although the leader of the Tamil National Alliance spoke with such
flexibility and although he agreed to have political devolution within a
unitary state, they continuously refuse to attend the Parliamentary
Select Committee appointed by the government for that purpose. Even the
UNP does not attend it because the Tamil National Alliance is not
Parliamentary Select Committee
Sambandan too, has various arguments for not attending the
Parliamentary Select Committee. The government has also responded to it.
In the meantime, the time is opportune for finding a solution to the
question in the North. The speech made by the leader of the Tamil
National Alliance by holding high the Lion Flag at the May Day seems to
be a good response to this. What is needed is to change the extremist
views of everyone.
In finding a solution through the Parliamentary Select Committee,
everyone represented in Parliament will have to present their political
stance on the relevant question. The United National Party, the Tamil
National Alliance and even the Sri Lanka Freedom Party cannot hide their
solutions and suggestions.
They cannot say one thing within the Parliamentary Select Committee
and something else to the people outside it. Similarly, the government
should also remember things of the past. It is not a secret to the
country that the most progressive proposal so far of removing the
Concurrent List of the Provincial Councils and devolution of power
within a united Sri Lanka has been presented by the Sri Lanka Freedom
Party. It was included in the draft constitution of 2000 presented to
Parliament during the time of Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga.
Approval for it was given by all the old Sri Lanka Freedom Party
members represented in the present Parliament. Otherwise, such a
proposal will not have been presented to Parliament as a draft.
Therefore, it cannot be difficulty for the Sri Lanka Freedom Party,
which gives leadership to this government, to bring in once again a
proposal. At the same time, the United National Party which had a safari
for 'fun' and held a joint May Day rally with the Tamil National
Alliance in Jaffna has a responsibility of bringing that Alliance to the
Parliamentary Select Committee.
Similar to holding the May Day rally jointly, their next
responsibility should be to bring their Tamil brothers with whom they
have entered into an alliance to the Parliamentary Select Committee.
Otherwise, anyone can argue that the UNP is indulging in opportunistic
Tamil National Alliance leader R. Sambandan who accepts a united Sri
Lanka, who rejects Eelam, and who is prepared to die as a Sri Lankan, is
in the twilight years of his life. It rests with everyone who is engaged
in politics today to decide whether they will solve this question or
not. The main responsibility for this rests with the government. It is
only then can the country be preserved as one nation in the future.
Delaying by days, weeks, months and years without finding a solution
will ultimately pave the way for Karunanidhi's extremist proposal.
Politics will then remain a miserable game in the hands of extremists of