Senathiraja’s home truth | Daily News


Senathiraja’s home truth

It appears that TNA Parliamentarian Mavai Senathiraja has thrown a spoke in the wheel in a project designed by former first son Namal Rajapaksa to win over the Northern voter to side with his uncle Gotabaya (if indeed he is the nominee) at the upcoming Presidential Election.

Namal, the other day, was in Jaffna opening Pohottuwa election offices and promising to build homes. Earlier, his other uncle Basil was busy in Jaffna opening party branches and hobnobbing with the people. It appears that suddenly the Northern vote has assumed crucial importance for the Rajapaksas who hitherto had faith only in the Sinhala Buddhist electorate to carry them to victory. However, it appears that Senathiraja and the TNA have other ideas.

Addressing supporters at the Weerasingham Hall in Jaffna, Senathiraja vowed that the Tamil people will never vote for former President Mahinda Rajapaksa or any of his family members, because of the injustices they faced under Rajapaksa rule. Namal, he said, was attempting to win over people by opening Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) offices in the North and building houses. However the decision of the people will not change because of such gestures.

“The residents in the North remember well the many injustices done to them by the Rajapaksas. In the coming election they will teach the Rajapaksa clan a lesson. Just wait and see what the election results will be,” the TNA MP said. Not just because of the Rajapaksas. The Tamils (and other minorities) will vote against the SLPP candidate despite the Rajapaksas. The minorities had always been wary of voting for the SLFP which generally espoused Sinhala Buddhist nationalism and toed a chauvinist line. The Rajapaksas have compounded the situation and turned this brand of politics into a fine art. No doubt, the war victory proved a catalyst for this.

Riding on the crest of a wave of popularity that followed the war victory Mahinda Rajapaksa reveled in the sea of goodwill and public euphoria thus generated. He brushed aside the feelings and sentiments of the Tamil community who were made to feel a conquered race. Victory parades were the order of the day turning the knife further into to the already wounded spirits of the fallen. Victory scrolls were handed over to the military generals who commanded the fighting forces at ceremonies that were an anachronism and made one wonder if the Lankan army had overrun an enemy state, when the battle was against a section of our own countrymen who had misguidedly taken up arms.

A special session of Parliament was summoned with Mahinda Rajapaksa on the throne, so to speak, to hector all and sundry on the historic importance of the victory, and, not stopping at that, sending a clear message to the Tamils and the politicians of the North that devolution certainly they would get, but not the kind of devolution imported from elsewhere but the devolution at the wish of the Rajapaksas. This despite an earlier pledge to India that he (Rajapaksa) was willing to grant 13A Plus.

Not only that, a decree was issued banning the singing of the National Anthem in Tamil in schools and Government offices in the North - all because Rajapaksa was prevented from delivering a lecture at the Oxford Union due to a demonstration by the expat Tamil community in London.

Tamils in the North also have another reason to spurn the largesse offered to them by Namal Rajapaksa. For, in the eyes of his father, the former President, they (Northerners) were still Kotiyas (Tigers). Many would recall that soon after his defeat on January 8, 2015, Rajapaksa, after adjourning to his ancestral home “Carlton” in Tangalle, addressing supporters from an open window claimed that he did not consider his defeat a setback since he was done in by the Tigers (maawa parada kale Koti). This, after campaigning in earnest in the North and even distributing jewellery, alleged to be spoils of the LTTE, among the people.

Namal Rajapaksa had also promised to the people of the North, during his visit, to release all lands held by the military to their original owners. The war ended in May 2009, and there were six years after that to accomplish this task under his father’s rule. But they, no doubt, were heady times, when victory was being savoured to the optimum. Why spoil the party by resorting to a deed that could mar the celebrations among the nationalist minded in particular? Why take the risk of getting unpopular by resorting to such altruistic measures that would have caused a dent in papa’s nationalist voter base at the ensuing Presidential election? So why take the chance?

It is such indignities the Tamils were made to endure under Rajapaksa rule that Senathiraja was alluding to. No doubt, his sentiments will be shared by all minority political parties in general and certainly the Tamil community at large. This was demonstrated time and again in the results of all elections held in the North, post war. It cannot be any different this time around.

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