The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has, in a statement announcing its boycott of the Eastern Provincial Council election (EPCE), inveighed against President Mahinda Rajapaksa, his government, the JVP, and the JHU for promoting ultra Sinhala nationalism. We neither endorse nor dispute this view. Instead we wonder how the TNA would describe itself. Isn t it less ultra nationalistic than the SLFP-JVP-JHU combine? If so, how come it has placed itself at the beck and call of the LTTE, whose genocidal racism knows no bounds?
Among the reasons the TNA has given for its decision against taking part in the EPCE is the demerger of the Northern and the Eastern Provinces, which the LTTE and others of its ilk want to turn into a separate state. (They have very subtly adopted the term Tamil speaking people to include the Muslim community which constitutes about one third of the Eastern Province population so as to claim an overwhelming majority in that part of the country and to sell their homeland project to the international community. Ironically, this, they do, having ethnically cleansed the North of Muslims!) How could the TNA, which advocates the break up of the country along ethnic lines, oppose the separation of two arbitrarily merged provinces, based on a Supreme Court decision?
The TNA and other apologists of the LTTE may claim secession is essential as the Sri Lanka State is racist. But, who has rendered the State so racist? It is the power elite including the TNA. The SLFP once sought a short cut to power though its language policy which proved to be disastrous. Both the SLFP and the UNP stand accused of having instigated ethnic violence, the worst instances being in 1958, 1977 and 1983, when savage crimes were perpetrated by Sinhala criminals sponsored by the JRJ government against Tamils. The TNA carefully avoids dumping the UNP together with SLFP, the JVP and the JHU, as it needs the UNP s support to demonise the present government and the State internationally. The TNA et al are strangely silent over racism of the TULF, which adopted the now infamous Vadukkodai Resolution (1976) at a meeting where it vowed to skin the Sinhalese alive and make shoes from their skins. And the LTTE, which was part of the Tamil militant movements that got a turbo boost from the resolution, is fulfilling that vow. Besides massacring Sinhalese and Muslim civilians in their hundreds, it has also accounted for the cr me de la cr me of the Tamil community like Neelan.
Racism is the means by which political parties usually secure block votes, be they majority or minority organisations. In this country, only the much maligned old leftists have desisted from stooping to such low levels for political gain.
As much as the SLFP and its cohorts campaigned on a majoritarian platform at the last Presidential Election with a smattering of minority support, the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) pandered to exclusive Muslim interests in the Eastern Province at the recently concluded mini polls. And it is readying for a repeat performance at the upcoming EPCE. It wants a Muslim as the Chief Minister of the Eastern Province, where the Muslims constitute only about one third of the population. Would the SLMC act in a manner different from the SLFP, the UNP, the JVP and the JHU at the national level, if its support base to be tapped constituted over 70 per cent of the population? The same goes for the TNA. How would it act, if its constituency had the majority status in the country? The minority parties carrying ethno religious labels have demonstrated, in their enclaves, that they, too, have supremacist tendencies.
As much as President Rajapaksa wants this country to remain unitary in keeping with the desire of the majority community, the TNA and others are backing Prabhakaran, who is on a campaign to carve out a mono Tamil enclave. Rauff Hakeem desires to have a non-contiguous Muslim council in the East, should the LTTE be given autonomy in that province. Don t all these agendas reek of ultra nationalism or racism? They do! And abusing ethnicity and religion for expediency is the name of the game in politics. Even the so-called five star democracies in the global North are no exception. Look at Obama s difficulties in the US due to his skin colour and Islamic roots. The so-called White America is not enamoured of him. His near and dear ones are worried about his safety, even though he is being protected by the Secret Service! More and more White Americans may be coming forward to back him, but whether America will have a Black in the White House remains to be seen.
The TNA has also denounced the government s military campaign against the LTTE. It wants the government to halt its war effort and resolve the conflict through negotiations. Paradoxically, the TNA, while advocating a peaceful solution, resists the attempts by a breakaway LTTEgroup the TMVP which has chosen the path of peace, to be assimilated into the political mainstream. The reason why the TNA condemns the TMVP cannot be violence, for an organisation which has become the mouthpiece of the LTTE cannot have abhorrence for violence at all.
The TNA s odium for the TMVP stems from the fact the latter has emerged as an effective counter to the LTTE and given the lie to its sole representative claim. Without the LTTE in the East, the TNA cannot win an election. Hence its polls boycott. Rigging and violence that the LTTE resorted to in 2004 to ensure the present TNA MPs election are well documented in the European Commission Polls Monitoring Mission s report on that election.
We hope communal politics won t ruin racial amity in the East. In that province which is home to all ethnic communities, we believe no one should have a monopoly over the Chief Minister s post. The best way out is to appoint the Chief Minister and the Governor on a rotational basis from different communities for about one and a half years at a time so that every ethnic group will have an equal opportunity.