By V. Anandasangaree –
The birth anniversary of Thanthai Chelva falls on the 26th of this month. Everyone has a duty to commemorate it. The most unfortunate thing is that, even important Tamil personalities refer to him as the founder of the Federal Party. No one disputes it. But above everything he was the founder of the Tamil United Front, which name was changed as Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF). On the 14th of May 1972 the two great Tamil Political parties, the All Ceylon Tamil Congress (ACTC) led by Hon. G.G. Ponnambalam Q.C and the Federal Party (FP) led by Hon. S.J.V. Chelvanayakam, Q.C got merged, 23 years after their split in 1949. The merger of these two parties was considered as the greatest democratic feat in Tamil politics. We can’t forget how the Tamils living, spread all over the world, celebrated this incident, with great happiness and enthusiasm. The union of various Tamil sections in this connection, was considered not merely as union but as fusion of all Tamil groups into one.
Thanthai Chelva died without seeing how the TULF contested the General elections on the common symbol of the TULF, the ‘Rising Sun’. But the Tamil people showed very well, their gratitude to their great Tamil leaders. Except one, all the other 18 members were successful at the election. We lost the Kalkudah electorate by a small margin but the number of our Central Committee meetings took place at the residence of Hon. K.W. Devanayagam, a Member of Parliament from the UNP. How many people are aware that the Rising Sun flag designed by the TULF was first hoisted at the residence of Hon. K.W. Devanayagam by himself, in the presence of all the TULF members. Except the division of the country, in all other matters he cooperated with us, with the consent of his party the UNP. Therefore our defeat at Kalkudah was not taken seriously.
It is good for everyone to know the brief history of the TULF. Hon.G.G. Ponnambalam and Hon. S.J.V. Chelvanayakam took the initiative to form the most popular political party the ACTC. In 1947 after the General Election, some misunderstanding on the citizenship issue, brought a split in the party. Hom. G.G. Ponnambalam continued as the leader of the ACTC while Hon. S.J.V. Chelvanayakam led, the Federal Party.
Following this, many years passed with many incidents. The Srimao Bandaranaike Government that came to power in 1970 had a mandate to draft and adopt a new Republican Constitution. Realizing the risk and difficulties the Tamil minorities may have to face, with the adoption of the new constitution, Hon. S.J.V.Chelvanayakam put a aside his prestige and in his old age forgetting the 23 years of political enmity he had, visited Hon. G.G. Ponnambalam. Hon. Ponnambalam with the same respect greeted Chelvanayakam saying, “Come Chelva what can I do for you” for which Thanthai Chelva replied, “G.G. we can’t continue like this anymore. The time has come now for us to get together for the sake of our people”. With these few words, the 23 years old enmity got buried. The ACTC and the Federal Party got merged on the 14th of May 1972 to form the Tamil United Front which later became Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF). That very moment both these leaders, decided not to revive their respective parties. As a forerunner to this Thanthai Chelva shared the Presidentship of the TULF with Hon. G.G. Ponnambalam and with the same intension with Hon. S.Thondaman also. This is the brief history of the TULF and the end of the Federal Party.
Citing the rebirth of the ACTC as example, some people have unreasonably revived the Federal Party also. This argument is not acceptable. If Hon. G.G. Ponnambalam had lived at that time he would not have permitted the revival of his party. What cannot be pardon and the grave mistake was committed by the President at that time HE. J.R. Jeyawardene. Mrs. Amirthalingam in her statement very clearly states that her husband had the registration of the Federal Party in force to prevent a recurrence of what happened to the Federal Party. Being a lengthy statement only the major extract of the statement is given, which is as follows:
“History was created in Tamil Politics in 1972 when the two main Tamil Political parties formed the TULF, whereby the entire Tamil Community had been united and the famous Vaddukoddai Declaration was proclaimed in 1976. The Tamil Community endorsed it by returning 18 M.P’s in the following Parliamentary Elections held in 1977.
The Tamil Militants Organizations as well as the Tamil Political Parties are working to achieve the essence of the said proclamation.
My husband preserved the registration of the Federal Party, for the sole purpose that no undesirable elements could misuse its symbol and the name. He never wanted to revive the Federal Party.
It is a pity that some of those who have been groomed by him have attempted to misuse the name of the Federal Party and are trying to revive it. They have only breached the Trust he had placed on them.
Thus I categorically make it clear to all that I have neither approved nor blessed the revival of the Federal Party but instead condemn it as this act is a ploy to destroy the TULF which was formed by our great leaders”.
I wish to refer to a news item which is more important than the earlier one for the information of the people and for them to form their own judgments. A TULF member of Parliamentarian was involved in the revival of the Federal Party on the orders of a Political group. Such news item is available with me and can be produced at any time. In this situation if we want Thanthai Chelva’s soul to rest in peace and his ambition fulfilled, we must act accordingly. This is real history and anyone can challenge me if I am wrong. No one has the right to distort history to please some individuals.
Unlike the ACTC the Federal Party was revived after it remained defunct for 28 years.