Setting the record straight | Daily News


Setting the record straight

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader R. Sampanthan has come out in the open on why it supported the UNF against the recent JVP sponsored No Confidence Motion against the Government. The veteran politician claimed that had the NCM been carried it would have meant the exit of the Government to be replaced by the alternative, much to the detriment of the Tamil people. “We will not allow the emergence of a dictatorship headed by anyone responsible for the killing of Tamils and who treated the community harshly.” There are no bets for guessing who the dictator Sampanthan was referring to.

The Joint Opposition spokesmen now need not talk about a conspiracy between Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the TNA to elicit the latter’s support for any project whatsoever. It had been the perennial claim of the JO that the TNA had been offered concessions, such as the release of military held land in the North or creating new administrative units in return for helping defeat the NCMs brought against the Government from time to time. There was also the fantastic claim, following the October 26 constitutional coup, that the TNA had been promised Eelam in return for support extended to Ranil Wickremesinghe to emerge from the crisis and that the TNA was taking instructions from the Tamil Diaspora. The tone and tenor of the JO accusations in this regard carried the unmistakable flavour of racism, no doubt, to show the UNP as being anti-national and a party which depended on the minorities for its survival.

By coming out in the open in this fashion, the TNA leader has also conveyed another message loud and clear - the Rajapaksas can kiss goodbye to any Tamil community support at the Presidential Election. Not that there was any support prior to this either. But the pohottuwites will make a serious bid to woo the minority vote, this time around, having lost on the last occasion, which proved the deciding vote that saw the exit of Mahinda Rajapaksa. Basil Rajapaksa has apparently taken charge of the Pohottuwa campaign in the North, setting up party offices and working at the grassroots. However, the chances are zero that these moves would succeed.

Sampanthan was right when he stated that the Tamil community was harassed by a dictatorship, and there is no need to spell out who this dictator was. Sampanthan also stopped short of describing what form this harassment took. But this was in full display to the public at large in the euphoric aftermath of the war victory. Tamils were made to feel a conquered people what with victory parades held on a regular basis to denote the supremacy of one community over another.

The Tamils who asked for devolution under the 13th Amendment were told in no uncertain terms that devolution it certainly will be but only at the pleasure of the Government, read Rajapaksas, and not devolution that was imported, at a special session of Parliament to hail the war victory. Victory scrolls and decorations were handed to military officers who led the war making it look as if the war was fought with another country or an invader, instead of a section of our own people. No doubt the country was bathed in a flood of euphoria and rightly so, and the Rajapaksas took this at the tide raking in every ounce of political mileage. Riding on this wave, soon thereafter, Mahinda Rajapaksa went about the business of ensuring he remained President for life, via the 18th Amendment, after engineering crossovers from the Opposition.

The harassment Sampanthan speaks of took on other forms as well, as when the former President imposed a ban on the singing of the National Anthem in Tamil in schools and Government offices in the North, out of pique after his planned lecture to the Oxford Union was cancelled due to protests by Tamil expatriates in London. Not only that. Soon after his defeat in January 2015, Rajapaksa told supporters at his Carlton residence in Tangalle that he did not consider his defeat a defeat as such since he was done in by the Tigers “maawa parajaya keruwe koti”. This, after campaigning in the North with vigour and even distributing gold items from the LTTE’s war chest to the people.

Hence, it should be clear to the JO that the TNA’s antipathy towards the Rajapaksas is independent of any love it may entertain for the UNP and goes much deeper into the core of what the Rajapaksas and their brand of politics represent. It would be better if the Pohottuwites, even at this stage, came to terms with the reality they are abhorred by the minorities whose vote will be a decisive factor in a tight race. It is no exaggeration to say that it has already burnt its boats with the Muslin community who are being unfairly targeted, as a whole, for the barbarism of a few. With pro-Rajapaksa Bhikkus’ loud cry that the country should be ruled by a benign dictator (Sonduru Akgnadayakayek). Sampanthan’s assessment may not be far off the mark.

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