By Malinda Seneviratne –
There are certain things that just won’t stay under. Like rubber balls. In water. They pop up. It has to do with the properties of matter. Laws of physics. Like nationalist sentiments, i.e. sentiments associated with identity, let’s say.
No, it’s not about the LTTE. Certain things die and are not reborn. Like the JVP. The name can survive and can be used as flag, but the politics can never be the same, except as farce (as Karl Marx famously put it in ‘The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte’). The JVP of 1971 was not recognizable in 88-89 and that JVP is not what we have now. It’s the same with the LTTE. ‘That’ LTTE ended its adventure in the Nandikadaal Lagoon three years ago. If any LTTE lover entertains illusions about a resurrection, then he/she could envisage the second death of that second coming; Nandikadaal is the name to remember.
Delhi has raised concerns about an ‘LTTE-Regrouping’ in Tamil Nadu. That’s mis-naming. Tamil Nadu is the logical and most visible residence or, let’s say, headquarters of Tamil Nationalism. Delhi deftly off-shored a problem that had the potential to hasten what many feel is the inevitable, i.e. the eventual breakup of the Indian union. To that end, Delhi funded, trained and armed what developed into one of the most ruthless terrorist outfits the world has known in recent times. Then Delhi feigned to sort out the problem (that’s the Indo-Lanka Accord) and sent a peacekeeping force to Sri Lanka. Someone’s behind got bitten really badly and it was not that of a Tiger or a Lion.
Now Delhi finds, we are told, a re-grouping of old friends. Delhi, by raising concerns, is not sending a warning to a friendly neighbor about a possible threat somewhere down the line. Delhi is inadvertently articulating an old fear, that of losing Tamil Nadu and then, following the Domino Principle the rest of the country. It happens. Just look at what happened to the Soviet Union. Fictional aggregates are not sustainable and Delhi probably knows this and wants to postpone D-Day.
Well, Delhi got a breather, if one can call it that, of close to three decades. Sri Lanka in 2012 is not the Sri Lanka of the early 1980s. Off-shoring would not be easy, because 30 years of that kind of operation leaves communities exhausted. Tamils have problems (as do Sinhalese and Muslims, Buddhists and Christians, working class people and unemployed graduates) but gun and bullet is not the way to go. That every Sri Lanka knows. Delhi cannot convince otherwise.
What this ‘re-grouping’ is about then is mis-residenced Tamil Nationalism (should be called ‘chauvinism’, but let’s be generous) re-discovering traditional homeland. The likes of Vaiko, Jayalalithaa, Karunanidhi and others who rant and rave about Tamil brethren across the Palk Straits while ignoring the real, tangible and terrible grievances of Tamils at home (abject poverty, ill-education, lack of proper healthcare and so on), will need a new ‘Other’ to divert away ‘regime-fatigue’.
Tamil Nadu is a fertile soil for Tamil Nationalism for reasons of geography, demography, chronic ill-treatment and history (compared to which the ‘suffering’ of Tamils in Sri Lanka are not worth mentioning).
One could say something about birds coming home to roost, but it’s probably deeper than that. Delhi’s backyard is dry. That’s tinder. Ready to crackle.