Ceylon Workers` Congress leader Arumugam Thondaman is said to be going hell for leather to forge an alliance with the LTTE. Those who may have thought young Arumugam at least had one millionth of his grandfather`s political maturity and sagacity, stand corrected. He has proved he is no patch on his grandfather who had wisdom and courage to remain independent of all political forces and the LTTE and knew how to make even political colossuses like JRJ et al eat humble pie.
Grandpa Saumayamoorthi Thondaman was not infallible, yet he commanded the respect of even his political foes. He was the bulwark that defended the disadvantaged estate worker community against the Elephants and the Tigers alike. That was true leadership!
Today, his grandson has, in a shameless display of lack of character and treachery, embarked on a course of action, which has, as its inevitable end, disaster??not only for him but for the entire country, especially the estate workers. His grandpa must be turning in his grave!
Arumugam is a kingmaker in the soup, having backed the wrong horse at the recently concluded presidential election. The UNP is no longer a place for him to invest his future in. The intra party power struggle which is likely to further debilitate the UNP gives little hope to men in a hurry like Arumugam. The CWC without power is nothing and the springs of funds have gone dry for its leaders without cabinet portfolios. Most of all, he has the party falling apart with more and more parliamentarians deserting him. The government is making inroads into the estate sector through the CWC rebels with a view to eating into the CWC support base so that in the future Arumugam won`t be a political threat. Out of desperation, he may have thought of seeking the help of the Tigers. But he is swapping inguru (ginger) for miris (chillies). Or, in other words, he is entrusting the Tigers with the safety of his `Cockerel`. It may be that he is trying to frighten President Rajapakse into extending an invitation to join the government with a plumb cabinet portfolio and putting the brakes on the Upper Kotmale Hydro Power Project, which the government is going to implement in spite of his opposition. But, having won without the support of the CWC, which went all out to defeat him, President Rajapakse cannot be expected to take him on board. `Tea Man` is no longer Mahinda`s cup of tea.
It is strange that Arumugan has failed to learn from the blunders of the TULF politicians who sold their souls to the Tigers, save a few. In the LTTE-controlled TNA, TULF heavyweights have been reduced, as it were, to bullocks carrying the burden of the Tigers. If the LTTE-CWC deal is clinched, Thondaman, too, will find himself yoked with those TULF worthies never to be freed again. Today, on this page we carry a letter which one of the remaining sagacious Tamil politicians, V. Anandasangaree has written to `Thamby Arumugan.` TULF President Anandasangaree warns him against aligning himself with the LTTE. He should heed that advice or compare notes with the other kingmaker in the soup, Rauf Hakeem as to what it is like to have an agreement with the LTTE. Immediately after the signing of the CFA, Mr. Hakeem, too, walked into the Tigers` den and walked out flaunting an MoU he had signed with none other than Prabhakaran himself. But it took him only a few weeks to realise that the agreement was not worth the paper it was written on: The LTTE resumed killing the Muslims in the Eastern Province.
The Tigers must be licking their chops thinking of the plantation Tamils living in abject poverty in the central hills, which they can turn into a fertile recruiting ground. When he has a Tiger behind every tea bush only, will Thondaman realise the cost of his blunder and the wisdom of his grandfather who avoided deals with the striped ones.
Another big problem for Arumugam is that he will, in joining forces with the LTTE, have to sever links with India, the source of inspiration as well as strength for the `Tamils of Indian origin`. For, he will be delivering a thundering slap on Mother India`s face by forging an alliance with the LTTE, which is banned in that country and whose leaders are wanted for the killing of Rajiv Gandhi. What India`s reaction to the proposed CWC-LTTE deal will be, remains to be seen.
As Mr. Anandasangaree says, it is not still too late for Thondaman to change his mind. Unless he does so, we will see a harum-scarum leader committing hara-kiri in the central hills.