26 September, 2020

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Colombo, Tamil Nadu & New Delhi – What’s In Them For Sri Lankan Tamils ?

By Kusal Perera

Kusal Perera

The impeachment against Chief Justice Dr. Ms. Shirani Bandaranayake was brought to an end with the Rajapaksa government shunning the determination of the apex Courts in Hulftsdorp, to remove her and appoint on 15 January, the new Chief Justice. Its trusted choice, former Attorney General and thereafter Legal Advisor to the Cabinet of Ministers, Mohan Peiris. The SC ruled the whole Parliamentary Select Committee process to impeach the CJ, as illegal. The impeachment as a public issue died off with Mohan Peiris the new CJ assuming office. This new political twist in Sri Lanka would have a serious impact on the Tamil political scene and on everything else in the country.

The changing scenario in Tamil politics begins in the year 2005 with presidential elections. The “common presidential candidate” of the “progressives and the Left”, PM Mahinda Rajapaksa, launched his vision of a new Sri Lanka titled “Mahinda Chinthana” for presidential elections. In that he said, “No sooner I am elected to office, I shall commence extensive discussions with all political parties represented in parliament, based on the above stated fundamental concepts. At the same time, I shall start discussions with political parties that are not represented in parliament as well.” (pages 31 – 32)

NO mandate therefore was asked for from the people, nor was any promise given to the people, on any war against the LTTE, as a solution to the ethnic conflict. The broad concept proposed for a solution to the on going conflict was, “devolution” and NOT even decentralisation. “My intention is to devolve powers to the level of the citizen” (page 32), he said in his “Mahinda Chinthana” booklet.

In just over 02 years in year 2008 while an untold of war was being brutally escalated in North and East, at the first Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on Human Rights that took Sri Lanka’s case in April that year, the GoSL had by then given an assurance, it will stand committed for a political settlement on devolution. An Indian official was then quoted as saying, “This is not just a commitment made to India, but to international agencies too.”

In January 2010 the second edition of the same “Mahinda Chinthana”, was re-launched for the presidential elections on 26 January. That (in Sinhala version) said, “Meanwhile, the All Party Conference was continued with a Representative Committee, bringing serious political issues into broad discussions. Instead of forcing solutions from top, this process brought together a broad consensus between political parties, civil organisations and the people themselves.” (page 55)

In 2011 May, over 01 year later and 02 years after the savage conclusion of the war, when External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris visited New Delhi, the two External Affairs Ministers who reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral relations, issued a joint statement on 17 May covering 11 issues including that of a permanent solution to the Tamil political conflict. That joint statement said,

4. Both sides agreed that the end of armed conflict in Sri Lanka created a historic opportunity to address all outstanding issues in a spirit of understanding and mutual accommodation imbued with political vision to work towards genuine national reconciliation. In this context, the External Affairs Minister of Sri Lanka affirmed his Government’s commitment to ensuring expeditious and concrete progress in the ongoing dialogue between the Government of Sri Lanka and representatives of Tamil parties. A devolution package, building upon the 13th Amendment, would contribute towards creating the necessary conditions for such reconciliation. 

Even in May 2011, the Rajapaksa regime was still marking time, with promises to build upon the 13th Amendment. After another year and a half, they tried testing the water, for change of course. In October 2012, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, a public servant as Secretary to the Ministry of Defence with absolutely no right to indulge in politics told the media, the 13 Amendment to the Constitution should be repealed immediately. “The Island” news paper on 13 October quoted him as saying, “… the 13th Amendment was nothing but an impediment to the post-war development process.” It further quoted him elaborating, “People should realize the external interference will not be beneficial. Whatever the party in power, it must have the freedom to take decisions for the benefit of the majority of Sri Lankans,” Provincial Councils (PC) were established with the signing of the Indo-SL Accord in July, 1987 that brought in the 13 Amendment.

With the Divi Neguma Bill made law, that centralises all ground level, local initiatives under a central government Minister, PCs under the 13 Amendment now have their mandate for local development, sabotaged and hijacked. Its in such context, the new call for the repeal of the 13 Amendment gets the nod from the political authority in Colombo. It is also in such political context, Prof Peiris once again in New Delhi to co-chair the 08th Session of the Joint Commission, inks a joint statement with his Indian Counterpart, Salman Khurshid on 22 January (2013), that covers everything under the sun, except “devolution”, a political settlement and the 13 Amendment to the Constitution. This latest joint statement thus negates the commitment New Delhi gave in its joint statement made on 17 May, 2011 under section 4. A clear indication, times have changed for Tamil politics.

This now brings to a complete halt, the diplomatic and political pressure the TNA was calculating through New Delhi. This regime’s promise for a “political solution” based on the 13th Amendment camouflaged as a “home grown” solution, was used to buy time and space to drag the issue without serious initiatives in finding an acceptable answer. Meanwhile New Delhi was only interested in drowning Tamil Nadu (TN) rhetoric, to work on economic and trade issues, promising there would be development benefits percolating to the North and the Vanni. The joint statement issued (22 January) thus says, “Both sides comprehensively reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral relations, including trade, investment, development co-operation, science and technology, power, agriculture, health, people to people contacts, connectivity, culture and education, and expressed satisfaction at the substantive developments in bilateral relations….” (No. 2 of statement) New Delhi’s efforts are now about caring for the Indian business and GoSL is happy it could increase trade with India to the tune of USD 10 billion in the next 03 years. They have thus signed bi lateral agreements on combating “International Terrorism and illicit drug trafficking” and most importantly, a “Revised Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement”.

The two countries now don’t have much reason to review the follow up action on the LLRC recommendations, the government submitted as its Action Plan in its report to the UPR in November 2012. Therefore with absolutely no mention of a political solution, the joint statement goes on to say, the two countries recognise “the need to build a special economic partnership framework to achieve the shared goals of poverty alleviation, job creation and economic development for the people of the two countries, the two sides decided to take several steps to further deepen trade, tourism and investment relations.” (No.4)

With India side stepping on its previously vowed responsibility, what now makes politics of minorities far more difficult is this Rajapaksa regime’s hold on the apex Courts of the judiciary, after it impeached CJ Bandaranayake. India now looking the other way, this regime could easily go for any decision they wish, with more confidence than when Sarath N Silva as CJ, bifurcated the merged North – East province in favour of Sinhala politics. This regime does not allow its Sinhala backing to fade off. Therefore, its a Sinhala influenced judiciary that would henceforth sit on any Tamil political issue, if the regime wants it that way.

That impeachment too was not of any concern to New Delhi. But how the two regimes were able to reach such compromise to drop the SL Tamil issue is also because of faulty reading of geo political necessities of the present New Delhi regime, by Tamil political leadership. The SL Tamil issue was used by the Indira Gandhi rule 32 years ago, to warn President Jayawardne against going too much West and towards the US. India then was very much Non Aligned and pro Soviet Russia. Today, it is a different India in a different world order. There is neither a Soviet bloc, nor a non Aligned movement as then. India is no more a closed and a heavily regulated economy and no more anti US. The New Delhi regime, since its shift to neo liberal economics, has given up on its principled stand on Human Rights and democratic rule, except its pretence for such. This neo Gandhian rule therefore supported the Myanmar military Junta with economic and development packages. They have entered into a military co-operation agreement with China since 2008 and increased its trade with China too.

Interestingly, Sajjad Shaukat, an international affairs critic and the author of the book “US vs Islamic Militants”, writing to “Global Reach” on 13 December 2012, about US Drone Attacks said, “Besides, Pakistan is the only nuclear country in the Islamic world. Hence, the U.S., India and Israel are determined to weaken it. The drone campaign is also part of this game.”

That’s an interesting “triumvirate” in this new world where old alliances have given way to new, undemocratic and selfish alliances. The SL Tamil issue has no importance to New Delhi within such alliances. The fault with the TNA is that it has not read through this neo Gandhian perspective of India. The TNA still believes TN politics that rhetorically is pro Tamil, would be a factor in pushing New Delhi into compromises. That local public lobbying and mobilising could be substituted with international and regional alliances and agencies. None of it would work, without adequately strong pressure on this Rajapaksa regime, here in Colombo.

What this Rajapaksa regime slipped on is, the APRC it allowed as a political cover up of the war. As often happens in politics, most issues gather their own momentum and at times go out of hand. So were the APRC and the LLRC. As for the LLRC, the TNA left its political importance aside to keep in step with the Tamil Diaspora and have thus lost good time. The time lost by TNA was used by this regime to dilute and contradict LLRC Recommendations. They have now come out with a special report on the war by the military that counters the LLRC Report and its Recommendations.

The APRC final report handed over to the President over two years ago is different and still has political punch. It could have been President Rajapaksa’s “Waterloo”, had the TNA raised it as the basis for a discussion, although they were not party to its formulation. With President Rajapaksa appointing an Experts Committee too to assist the APRC, the 21 Chapter draft presented to the APRC by its Chairman, Prof Tissa Vitarana, took almost two years to conclude its deliberations. “APRC discussed each of the chapters separately seeking inputs from political parties through their representatives at the APRC”, say MP R. Yogarajan and Nizam Kariapper in their introduction to the compilation they presented as the equivalent to the APRC Final Report. The discussions had concluded in June 2010 after 128 meetings, with consensus on all 21 chapters.

To have such consensus is a mammoth achievement where all shades of Sinhala politics participated from the SLFP, through MEP to the JHU along with the EPDP, CWC and Mano Ganesan, apart from the LSSP and the CP of SL. It is certainly a huge waste by TNA, not taking this consensus as the basis for all future discussions in seeking a permanent solution. Though President Rajapaksa made the LLRC Final Report public, he fears to have this APRC Final Report public, purely because of the political consensus it has achieved. IF the TNA is willing to make a public campaign to have it as the basis for the proposed PSC, that would change the whole scenario once again. But that campaign has to be in Colombo and has to have the Colombo Tamils on the streets. There are over 100,000 SL Tamils residing in Colombo according to the 2011 Census table in the official website of the department. Its time the TNA reaches to them for active political participation. There is total absence of Tamil politics in Colombo since 1956 when the FP went on a historic “Sathyagraha” on Galle face green against the Sinhala ONLY official language Act. Its time the TNA broke that self imposed absence and got on the streets of Colombo. Its Colombo where power resides and decisions are made. Its in Colombo where power has to be challenged to have new decisions made.

(Written on invitation for the Sri Lankan Tamil magazine, “Samakaalam”)

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Latest comments

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    kusal dont talk rubbish.. basils mediaman darman wickramarathna will expose you.. you were in ngo payroll.pl tell what happ.to your case samurdi money tou were arrested and relesad we had the court case

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    I think there is a diffused sentiment amongst the Tamil community that India should help, because of the common ethnicity. India is exercising an imperialistic power and to New Delhi, Tamil and Sinhalese are equally distant. They were so in ’70s, in ’80s, ’90s and so on. India doesn’t want a Tamil state, it wants to exercise power. In the last years, the best delegate to do so has been Rajapaksa, that’s why they helped him in crushing the LTTE and backed him in the international forum.
    Tamil can contribute as the other Sri Lankans in changing this corrupt, criminal government, but I doubt that they will form a communal force in Colombo. Tamils in Colombo are not supporting an independent Tamil state, that’s why they are in Colombo! A separate state would make their case completely lost, as then the Sinhala Buddhist claim would be even stronger.

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      Celerati Editorial says:

      “India is exercising an imperialistic power”

      Not yet, aspiration to be a world class power is always there among the Hindians. However India’s imperialistic intention is in its infancy.

      You say:

      “to New Delhi, Tamil and Sinhalese are equally distant.”

      I beg to differ. India always treated Sri Lanka as the Sinhala state of India. For Tamils India has Tamilnadu state.

      As long as the ruling Sinhala/Buddhists understand this simple truth everything is going to be hunky dory. Failing to understand this geopolitics has brought immense misery to all people in island, including my people.

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    A fair narrative by a usually well-informed journalist in a subject that has played a pivotal role in the Island’s politics from the early 1950s to now. This is likely to continue perhaps for a few more years as well until the Southern electorate gathers the wisdom to yield to justice in the interests of its own survival and future. Issues sorrounding Language Parity and the Citizenships (1956-87) were declared as beyond negotiation. It was argued both would offend the alternate political power bloc of the Buddhist hierarchy – until then shared between the two Kandy Mahanayakas. What was until then considered Holy and sacrosanct Cow had to be given away “by the solicited March of a foreign army” as the late Thondaman mused.

    To conclude “New Delhi was only interested in drowning Tamil Nadu (TN) rhetoric, to work on economic and trade issues, promising there would be development benefits percolating to the North and the Vanni” is to get the picture wrong. While New Delhi cannot ignore the Lankan Tamil issue – also a sensitive issue in the ongoing struggle between contenders to the Karunanidhi’s DMK and Jayalalitha’s AIDMK in the plum State of Tamilnadu, the significant visit of Smt. Sushma Swaraj a few months ago to the island is suggestive even the BJP – whose forte is in the Hindu Belt of the North – places some premium in the burning question. Smt Swaraj, after all, is a frontline candidate for the post of PM, in the probable change of administration in Delhi in the next General Elections.

    The comment “Sarath N Silva as CJ, bifurcated the merged North – East province in favour of Sinhala politics” is admission one more Sinhala academic that visceral Buddhist Sinhala chauvinism did not hesitate to crudely violate an important component of the Indo-Lankan Agreement, a solemn protocol between two sovereign governments. Once again majoritarian politics won over justice and the law. As in all cases of this nature, there is usually a price to pay for such aberrations.

    “Therefore, its a Sinhala influenced judiciary that would henceforth sit on any Tamil political issue, if the regime wants it that way” Once more majoritarian tyranny can get away with it on the thin veneer of legality but, eventually in the eyes of the world, the cause of justice will eventually prevail as in the 2 issues settled in 1987.

    For those of us who argue India likes, as far as possible, to keep away from the island’s internal politics the comes confirmation in the writers words “that impeachment too was not of any concern to New Delhi”

    “But how the two regimes were able to reach such compromise to drop the SL Tamil issue” is pure speculation. There is no evidence of any compromise at all except to receive Minister GL Peiris with the usual courtesy. As far as we are aware, India continues to counsel the Rajapakses to settle the Tamil Question soon and peacefully. India is joined by the US, the EU, Japan and other key places in the IC joining them. “geo- political necessities of the present New Delhi regime” is something India, with all material and intellectual resource advantages, has more than an edge over us. In the circumstances the comment “the SL Tamil issue has no importance to New Delhi within such alliances” is one made somewhat callously.

    “There are over 100,000 SL Tamils residing in Colombo according to the 2011 Census table in the official website of the department. It is time the TNA reaches to them for active political participation” Any serious political reader is aware the late T. Maheswaran won from the
    Colombo District on the UNP ticket because of this new reality. The TNA and Mano Ganesan’s outfit will not be oblivious to this. There can be another player for the contention if the younger Thondaman shifts his concedntration from debaucherous matters of a nocturnal nature and win an elected seat from Colombo for the CWC -something which MS Sellasamy almost succeeded till 4pm on the day of elections in 1977
    until intimidation, thuggery and impersonation was used to push him to 4th place.

    Senguttuvan

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      Senguttuvan,
      Few things for further discussion.
      One, Sushmitha Swaraj visit was almost one year ago in April 2012. Writer Perera says the scenario has changed since then. Swaraj made it clear while in SL, in New Delhi the Cong govt and BJP Opp has a common stand on SL Tamil issue. So if N.Delhi drops SL Tamil issue, then BJP is also in it.
      Two, TN the shouting is with small fry. Seeman, Vaiko etc. They don’t count in big picture. Now JJ has forgotten her early resolutions. DMK even during the war played according to N.Delhi. Next parliament elections in India will not bring the SL Tamil issue in TN.
      Three, why Maheswaran came from UNP and why Mano G is there, because TNA is not there seriously in Colombo.
      Wish to know your ideas pls
      Thank you.
      Amaranth

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        Sorry Senguttuvan
        Four, writer Perera is talking of Colombo not as election seat. But as political lobby. Then Mano G has to support and UNP has to support TNA. Is that problem ?
        Thank you
        Amaranth

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    Food for thought! Yes, this APRC is the strongest contender to begin with for both Sinhalese and Tamils to work out a solution. This article is an excellent one!

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    Oh Boy,

    Kusul Perera wants the 100000 Colombo Tamilians to pour on the the Galle Road and throw petrol bombs .

    Having just seen the terrible loss of life in Port Said yersterday, Mr Perera’s plea here ,brought up goose bumps.

    The TNA didn’t go to the APRC.

    Neither did they front up to the LLRC.

    Nor they want to go to the PSC.

    Only they want an exclusive homeland from Vavniya to poit Pedro, with TNA Police and the entire land registry.

    And they only want to talk to Rajapaksa ,face to face and make a private deal.

    Wonder whether that was in the Chintana?.

    Supposing the Colombo Tamils succeed in frightening the Prez and Sambandan become the CM, with all these perks, will the former move to Sambandan’s autonomous mini Eelaam for good.

    Or would they continue to occupy their Real Estate in these pristine suburbs in Colombo which even the KPMG analysts envy.

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      K.A Sumanasekera
      If Gotabhaya removed all the garbage how come you are still around writing rubbish to this publication?

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        Aney Apochchi!

        “you are still around writing rubbish to this publication?”

        It is elementary Aney Apochchi:

        Garbage In Garbage Out.

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    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy
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    Thank you, dear Amaranth:

    Is it really Amarnath?

    The visit of Smt Swaraj was notice that the Lankan Tamil issue now
    is part of the Agenda of the alternate Govt of the BJP as well. You know all too well the Congress and BJP hardly think alike in major matters expect on the issue of Kashmir. In view of India’s own security considerations – exacerbated by the unpredictable Rajapakses who will play ball with anyone – that does not exclude India’s perceived enemies – Sri Lanka will be high in the considerations of India. As far as I am aware, Colombo is just as important to Delhi as is Washington, London,Moscow, Beijing, Islamabad etc due to its geographic/strategic significance. The fact Mani Dixit, Shiv Shankar Menon, Nirupama Rao – former IHCs to Colombo – were promoted as Indian Foreign Secy’s and as Advisors to GoI tells its own story, if you know what I mean. If you will allow me to hazard a guess former IHC Shri Gopal Gandhi may reach the high position of President – a high office he will bring great dignity, honour and influence to.

    Vaiko, Seeman, Tholar Thirumavalavan are no small fry and have their
    particular influences. Vaiko has much influence in Delhi and can get an appointment with the PM at short notice. In the emotional make-up of the South Indian voter – particularly beyond Trichy to Tiruchendur
    the Lankan Tamil issue is an emotional issue. To both DMK and AIDMK the Lankan Tamil issue will remain significant although it may not be a large All-State campaign issue in the battle to capture the State. The DMK under MK Stalin was found in London in several meetings recently with the diaspora there gives them some edge over the AIDMK.

    The Colombo District can easily accommodate 2-3 Tamils in Parliament. Times have changed where the popular Kumar P could not be elected whereas, a few years later, Maheswaran got in. A Tamil from the NEP, one from “Malainadu” and another “Colombo Tamil” will henceforth be strong contenders. After all, all they need is to get about 50,000 votes in a Tamil electorate in the District which is, I believe, can easily accommodate the votes required.

    Mano G’s chances of appeal to the Tamil electorate stands a better chance of his being elected coming via the UNP. This may be because
    the average Tamil voter in the Colombo District feels safer with the UNP than with the other unpredictable Sinhala coalitions – in spite of the memories of the adventures of Cyril Mathew, Premadasa and Company
    in 7/83. CWC missed the chance of sending a man from Colombo when they failed to exploit the popularity of the old war horse Sellasamy post-1980s – due to internal politics. The good man, I think, is now ageing and has lost his shine. If the late Thonda’s grand-daughter decides to contest from Colombo she can be a force – for more reasons than one.

    By the way, I am no expert and can be wrong in any or all of my perceptions. I am simply a student like all of you – except that I have known most of the players personally.

    Senguttuvan

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    “An elected Parliament can do anything except making a woman a man!” So accept it you anti government Riff Raff and get on with your lives! Move on to something else you idiots. Mahinda’s government is the best we had since post independence. It achieves anything it sets out to do. The West as well as the political pundits in SrLanka claimed that the LTTE can never be defeated militarily and the only solution is to accede to their demands for an Eelam Kingdom within SriLanka. Mahinda and his wonderful brothers Gota and Basil joined to gether with the patriotic government and defeated the Tigers and annihilated the entire Tiger leadership. See what he achieved when the world said it can never be done. Then Mahinda and his government started to clean up and kicked off the Pig headed Fonseka and the anti government Coyotees shouted hoarse. Then the Dodgy CJ was quickly dispatched to the dustbin. See you fools how Mahinda does things? Bow before him you donkey dicks and praise the gods that we have a man of his calibre to lead the country. Love to all including to all the anti government ankle biters ! Sudu Akka

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    Kusal Perera is a person [Edited out] He knows very well that it is only the Tamil Nadu leaders who are interested in Tamil issue in Sri Lanka, not because they have any concern about the Tamils living in Sri Lanka, but that is the only way they could establish a Tamil Nation in this world.

    It looks as if Kusal has now become a cats paw of an NGO, [Edited out]

    Part of this comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy
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    India can still play an important role in finding an acceptable settlement to the Tamil problem. However, at the moment, New Delhi is not exerting enough pressure on Sri Lanka because the Indian central government lacks strong leadership. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is not a strong leader. Manmohan Singh owes his position as Prime Minister to the Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi. When Congress Party emerged as the largest party in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, Sonia Gandhi did not want to take up the Prime Minister position. Instead she gave that job to Manmohan Singh, the soft spoken Oxford educated economist who previously served as Finance Minister in Narisima Rao’s government and later as Opposition Leader when Vajpayee was Prime Minister. Sonia Gandhi operates in the background as the real power behind the throne. She determines the present Indian government’s policies.

    The problem for Sri Lankan Tamils is that she is not interested in the Sri Lankan Tamil issue at all. She cannot be made to take an interest in the Tamil issue after what Prabaharan did to her husband Rajiv. Her son and heir apparent, Rahul Gandhi too is not interested in the Tamil issue. Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi can still be made to take an interest over the SL Tamil issue if the right approaches through the right channels are made.

    The reality is that all decisions about the Sri Lankan Tamil issue are taken by bureaucrats in the Indian External Affairs Ministry,and the National Security Advisor with input from RAW. The present National Security Advisor, though nominaly holds a Cabinet rank, does not enjoy any great influence and the Sri Lankan Tamil issue is not one of his priorities. Former National Security Advisor M.K.Narayanan exercised strong influence and took an active interestr over the Sri Lankan Tamil issue. I am saying this from personal knowledge having met him in New Delhi several times. His exit is a great loss to the SL Tamils. Though vilified by the Tigers and their diaspora supporters as a traitor, Narayanan was very supportive of the Tamils and was easily approachable by Sri Lankan Tamil leaders. That is not the case now. TNA leaders have no direct access to the Indian National Advisor. To arrange any meetings with the Indian government leaders they have to go through the Indian High Commission in Colombo. None of the present TNA leaders have any direct links with any Indian government leaders in New Delhi and they never cared to establish such links. The sad fact is that except for Sampanthan none of the TNA MPs are known in the New Delhi political circles.

    A golden opportunity came when Congress MP Natchiappan organised the New Delhi conference of SL Tamil political party leaders in August 2011 with the help of ENDLF. I chaired this meeting. Eight out of nine SL Tamil political party leaders attended this conference. Though organised by an MP it had offical blessings from New Delhi. Unfortunately, Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam aided and abeted by LTTE Nediyavan Group based in Norway, wrecked the meeting. Despite that the New Delhi meeting provided an oppotunity for the SL Tamil leaders to meet with 27 Indian Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha Members and to explain the SL Tamil problem. That New Delhi conference was planned to be the initial step in establishing direct contact with Indian Parliamentarians and leaders. That plan never got off the ground. There was no follow up. The contact established with those 27 Indian Parliamentarians was lost. I should mention here the part played by ENDLF and its leader Gnanasekaran (Rajan) who is now based in India. He has direct contact with several Congress party MPs and unlike TNA leaders had been agitating on behalf of the SL Tamils since the time he was forced to flee to India with the IPKF. In 2010, ENDLF organised a long march from Chennai to New Delhi to highlight the plight of SL Tamils when TNA leaders were groping in the dark not knowing what to do after the defeat of LTTE. ENDLF leader had met the Indian Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, National Security Advisor and various other leaders several times and urged them to intervene on behalf of SL Tamils. I have accompanied him in all those meetings. In April 2009, realizing that nearly three hundred thousand Tamils are facing death and destruction, Rajan flew to New Delhi and met with National Security Advisor M K Narayan to save them. I accompanied Rajan and made the plea. Narayanan promised India’s intervention only if LTTE was prepared to lay down arms. He said at least token lay down of arms would suffice and he asked us to convince the LTTE leadership to surrender. LTTE never listened.

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    My own belief is TNA, via senior leader Mr Sampanthan, has a direct line to Security Advisor Shankar Menon. They are thought of well in ruling circles there. Both know each other personally and well. But meetings with the top at Delhi has to, following formality, go via the Colombo IHC.

    I am happy to note the roles reader Naga has played. I believe MP
    Nachiappan’s role in that Delhi meeting was aimed more in winning breathing space for the Rajapakses then under attack from many fronts.

    Dr. MM is, as may know, a stop-gap arrangement and carries the Sonia Gandhi Agenda. Many believe if Congress wins again he will be asked to
    remain as PM until the inarticulate Rahul Baba learns the ropes. The Dynasty factor is a vote-catcher in the Sub-Continent and will play a role for many more decades. The confusion within the BJP top to agree on a common candidate for PM will work to the advantage of the Congress.

    Besides personal preferences and prejudices Sonia and the Gandhi family cannot ignore the Lankan issue. So long as Tamilnadu plays a pivotal role in the formation of administrations in Delhi, the Lankan Tamil issue will remain significant. While senior officials in the South Bloc have much influence in policy formation if the political leadership so demands they simply have to fall in line – e.g. the sacking of A.P. Venkateeswaran as FS by Rajiv G at the insistence of Romesh Bhandari. Events proved APV was finally right – but it was a ghastly mistake that Rajiv G paid with his life.

    I wonder if Chandrahasan may still be a contender for the Rajapakses in the forthcoming NPC?

    Senguttuvan

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    Senguttuvan

    Natchiappan was not holding any brief for Mahinda Rajapakse. He voluntarily extended his support to ENDLF’s Chennai to Delhi march. Finding that he is one who is close to Sonia Gandhi we then enlisted his support in convening the New Delhi conference. Had there been an agreement among the SL Tamil political parties at the conference he was going to organise meetings with the Sonia Gandhi and the Prime Minister. Even the meeting with the Foreign Minister previously planned has to be cancelled because of the antics of Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam in stalling the proceedings. A meeting of all the SL Tamil political party leaders with Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh
    would have had a huge impact. I believe Sampanthan did not like the idea of sitting with people like Anandasangari at the New Delhi conference. That is the reason why he sent his side-kick Sumanthiran instead of himself attending. Mavai and Sumanthiran who came as delegates of Tamil Arasu Katchi only extended lukewarm support. I believe they came only to ensure that Tamil Arasu Katchi is not sidelined.

    I floated the idea of holding an SL All Tamil Parties Conference in late 2009 with ENDLF as I felt there was a political vacuum in SL Tamil politics after the defeat of LTTE in May 2009 when most Tamils including LTTE’s opponents stood helpless. We first enlisted the support of former Congress MP Anbarasu in trying to organise such a meeting. In the December 2009-January2010 period I went to New Delhi with Anbarasu to canvass support for such a meeting. We met the then Finance Minister Pranab Mukerjee, Defence Minister AK Anthony, Shipping Minister Vasan, State Minister for Home Affairs Ramachandran, National Security Advisor M K Narayanan and several other officials and canvassed support for the meeting. We received the greenlight. But because of the impending elections in Sri Lanka we could not proceed further. Funding was another problem. We later revived the idea in early 2011 and got Natchiappan to host the meeting.

    Sampanthan may now have access to Menon after they met in New Delhi. Menon is just another official and as I mentioned in my earlier comment he is not a powerful person in the New Delhi government circles. He is only a career officer. Tamils need the support of powerful political personalities in New Delhi. TNA does not care to cultivate contacts with such personalities. If TNA has political contacts in New Delhi they do not need the help of Indian High Commission in Colombo to organise meetings with the Indian leaders. No protocol is needed in organising such meetings. ENDLF leader met the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, NSA and other Ministers several times with the help of Cogress Party politicians. We did not go through the Colombo High Commission and no protocol prevented us meeting the Indian leaders.

    I agree that Tamilnadu can be a factor but the problem is that those Tamilnadu politicians pay only lip service to the SL Tamil issue. If only Karunanidhi had genuine interest he could have made a difference. Jayalalitha plays the SL Tamil card only for her political advantage.

    I do not see the opposition coming back to power in New Delhi. I expect the Congress coalition to be returned to power in next year’s national election. That is why I feel the Tamils will have to get Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi on their side. Rahul may be inexperienced but he has the charisma and the political lineage to become the next Prime Minister of India. I believe he will help Congress to do well in the Hindi belt.

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    Naga,

    If you believe Sampanthan came to know SSM only in Delhi then you are missing quite a bit. I am personally aware they knew each other well
    when Shankar was IHC for years here. Also, South Bloc does not move unless IHC in Colombo okays any key initiatives. This is a well known factor among those close to Indo-Lankan diplomacy. I do not dispute Lankan Tamils have had meetings with Delhi leaders outside the purview of the Colombo IHC then (e.g. Arjuna Chittambalam, Fr Emmanauel and others) and now. But for this to have the official stamp Colombo IHC is sine quo non.

    From what we know Nachiappan’s reach among Ministers/MPs in Delhi
    is limited, although he may have a line to the Gandhis – very likely through Chidambaram and the Chettiar factor. I see nothing wrong in your inclination for the return of the Congress next time
    but feel it is far too early to make predictions. The Vadera and other factors will play their own role between now and then. The influence of the affable Anbarasu both in TN and Congress/Delhi too has its limitations. Both Kalaignar and Puratchi Thalavi still carry the most influence still in Delhi.

    Await your own comments on SC Chandrahasan.

    Senguttuvan

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