By Goshan Che –
A Response To – Psephology Of NPC Election And Deconstructing The Politics Of The Social Architects
This is my response to some of the points raised in the article, Psephology Of NPC Election And Deconstructing The Politics Of The Social Architects by Dr Kalaichelvan. Please do not take this as an attempt to offer cover for the TSA’s interpretation of the election results, which came under heavy criticism, in the aforesaid article. This is simply an effort to offer a counter point, to some of the issues raised in Dr Kalichelvan’s article.
Though the analysis is sound for the most part and is right to criticise the way in which the TSA has interpreted the NPC vote, the author is also guilty of ignoring certain variables in Sri Lankan elections. The effect of violence or the threat of violence in Sri Lankan elections is one such variable. In a addition, there is also the phenomenon of “Boru Chanda / Kalla Vote”, in palin english vote rigging.
For any electoral result to correctly reflect the will(s) of the people, the environment in which the elections took place must be such, that the people were able to express their will, freely. For example, when the LTTE were in power, most elections in the north and east were, a one horse race. The candidates who stood on anti TNA platforms were not even allowed to campaign. One can only imagine what message that would have sent to anyone who was even contemplating voting for any party other than the TNA.
The same is also true of the EPDP and the iron grip it had over the Jaffna islands, until this recently concluded election. Put against this line of tainted elections, stretching back to the early 80s, I am sure many would agree that the recently concluded elections in the north was, by far, the fairest. So to treat all Sri Lankan elections since the 50s as similar creatures and to compare their voting patterns and to arrive at conclusions, ignoring the effect of actual/perceived political violence and vote rigging, is a major flaw in TSA’s as well as Kalaichelvan’s analysis.
Furthermore, though it is not correct to say that the electorate has shown “defiance” in the way TSA has interpreted the results, it is however correct to say that the voter has in fact shown defiance. The choice in front of the voter was quite clear cut. Vote for the UPFA and endorse the status quo (that is economic development instead of political rights) or vote for the TNA and usher in a local body, that will fight for your political rights as well as striving for economic betterment.
This choice has to be put in the context, that the voters in all other provinces have opted for the UPFA’s status quo model, although the Tamil dominated electorates did show a muted defiance to this model, in the last eastern provincial elections. So the first defiance is to the all powerful UPFA, to say to ruling coalition “we will not accept economic incentives as an alternative for political rights”.
The second instance of showing defiance comes at a deeper level and is related to the war victory of the UPFA government. It is no secret that the popularity of this government in the rest of the country is largely due to its war victory over the Tigers. It is also correct that at the street level, many Sri Lankans – Tamil and Sinhala, see this victory as a victory of the Sinhala people over the Tamil people.
Many in the south, especially the racist elements, believe that the war victory has ended the ethnic conflict in the country and the struggle by the Tamils for political rights has died alongside the Tigers. So, here again, the voter is showing defiance. The defiance here, to the rest of Sri Lanka and to the wider world is, you may have won militarily but our struggle for political rights and regional autonomy within a united Sri Lanka is alive and kicking.
The third and perhaps the most important instance of defiance is against the separatist elements both inside and outside of Sri Lanka. For the first time since the late 70s, a major Tamil political formation has rejected (implicitly) the idea of a separate state and positively endorsed the idea of finding a solution, within a united Sri Lanka, with the country’s territorial integrity preserved. Though this went largely unreported in the Sinhala/English media, there was a great upheaval amongst the Tamil diaspora and the nationalistic Tamil politicians of Tamil Nadu, on account of this apparent climb-down by the TNA. In his interview tothe BBC, Seeman, the leader of the Naam Thamilar outfit, compared TNA to cats and said they have no rights to give up the separate state demand of the Tigers. A similar and more despicable personal attack was directed at CV Wigneswaran by Kasi Ananthan, a firebrand poet in self imposed exile, in Tamil Nadu. Kasi Ananthan described Wigneswaran’s attempts to give up the demand for a separate state as treacherous and termed the man a scoundrel. The web space was awash with similar sentiments from extremist Tamils, living abroad. It is also reported that certain sections of the diaspora worked their phones and encouraged voters in the north to vote TNA but to cast their preferencial votes to anyone other than CV Wigneswaran. Against this backdrop, the northern voter has shown defiance to the secessionists abroad, by voting in the TNA with a 5/6 landslide and Wingeswaran- with unprecedented number of preferential votes, for a Tamil, ever in Sri Lankan elections.
Dr Kalaichelvan also criticises TSA for describing as “some” the 80,000 or so extra votes for TNA in Jaffna whilst giving undue weight to the fact that 10,000 UPFA voters showed apathy. What both TSA and Dr Kalaichelvan fail to factor in, is that this election was by far the most fair election of the three elections compared in this example, and perhaps the minimal influence of vote rigging could be the most credible explanation for the drop in the UPFA support base.
In conclusion, though Dr Kalaichelvan is correct to argue the TSA’s analysis is flawed and even laughable at times, his own analysis is not entirely free from flaws or at the very least, is guilty of omitting from consideration pertinent factors.
*Goshan Che is a political observer who prefers to remain anonymous
Sivathasan / October 9, 2013
A fine limpid analysis which is both bold and defiant. He has not spared to mention confirmed fakes that are Seeman and Kasi Anandan who thrive in TN on the applause of the masses. The Hard boiled Tamils of the North were sharp enough to repudiate them both and also their stance.
It was Justice Wigneswaran’s unrestrainable revulsion against advice of such people and their ilk that made him blurt out at their unsolicited and patronising words. Having struck his roots deep he had a feel for the people’s mood. They showed their endorsement through their preference. Both Chief Minister Wigneswaran and everyone parallel to him know thoroughly the weight of Tamil Nadu opinion on the counsels of Delhi.
Their impact on our fortunes particularly in the post YOUTH MOVEMENT environment are also well realised. CVW’s clear exposition of priorities, as a son of the soil resonated well with the thinking of the people in the North. The TNA, CM and the people will think alike and march together.
In this context Goshan Che has presented an objective and detached analysis.
Sarasvathi / October 9, 2013
TSA made some good points on the fact that TNA needs to be INCLUSIVE of women, YOUTH and underrepresented caste groups and not CASTE-IST and AGIST.
The fact is that the LTTE would not have grown to be the MONSTER that it became if Tamil society and politics was not DEEPLY DIVIDED on caste lines and AGE lines with the elite Tamil political parties being Vellala and dominated by elderly lawyers who had no understanding of social realities and youth problems and discrimination against lower castes in Tamil society.
IN short, the LTTE fought 2 wars to become the MONSTER that it was – 1. an internal intra-Tamil and anti-Vellala Caste war for youth representation; and
2. an external war against the Sinhala racists state.
The first CASTE war was a shadow and REPRESSED intra-Tamil community war that was rarely directly discussed by LTTE or Tamil intellectuals who rather made the racist Sinhala state its whipping boy. But CASTE DISCRIMINATION BY TAMILS AGAINST TAMILS is why the LTTE became such an ugly and repressive beast that was INTERNALLY DESTRUCTIVE TO TAMIL SOCIETY and was one of the ROOT CAUSES the 30 year war in Sri Lanka.
Now that TNA is in control of North, the ROOT CAUSES of this shadow intra-Tamil CASTE WAR and its fault lines must be addressed for peace in Tamil society and in Sri Lanka in general to be SUSTAINABLE. It is hence up to the TNA to ensure that it does not revert to being an ELITIST AND CASTE-IST party that is only interested in grandstanding about Tamil rights in Colombo. Space and voice MUST be given to the depressed castes and women and underrepresented groups as TSA tries to point out – albeit without a proper analysis.
Agni / October 9, 2013
Excellent analysis of the Tamil society malaise that no one likes to discuss because they are busy attacking the racist Sinhala state.. This is the challenge for the TNA to address – being inclusive particularly of YOUTH who are volatile group..
If Tamil society stop pretending and buying its head in sand and put its house in order and was INCLUSIVE and gave a place to low castes and youth and women, it would be able to take on the racist state much more effectively..
For this proper poverty reduction and development strategy that is people centered, with cash transfers to women headed households is needed..
Dodo / October 9, 2013
The election in the PC north was fair because of so many international observers focusing on it in the shadow of the CHOGM.
In other parts where there were not so many foreign election obser5vers per capita, the PC election was not so fair and discarded ballot papers have been discovered…
Sumith / October 9, 2013
enough of hair splitting analysis of the elections results.
Now it is time for all to serve the people.
Hope TNA uplift people’s live in North. They have been battered over the last 3 decades. TNA should grow the economy with proper planning and needful implementations.
And the government from Colombo should sincerely support those efforts should not block TNA efforts or try to take revenge from people for the election loss.
Country & people should come first.
Vibhushana / October 9, 2013
Well, the picture tells a thousand words doen’t it really? The low caste Douglous ejected. The high castes become top dogs yet again.
Its the new and improved codification of “Thesavalamai customs” all over again. Thesavalamai was introduced with the advent of Jaffna Malabar tobacco colony. The Dutch codified the customs necessary for Vellalar to maintain a mini-Tamil Nadu in Jaffna. It many ways a home away from home really. Control of land and slavaery became law among others.
Howls of “descrimination”, “genocide” and “Sinhala-only” was only a hoax and a distration wasn’t it really? What was not achived at the Dhonomore commission i.e. institutionalised caste discrimination has finally become a reality.
Ajith / October 9, 2013
don’t talk bloody nonsense. Douglas is not a low caste person. He was ejected because he served the racist Sinhala Buddhist leader Rajapakse family with prostitutes.
Vibhushana / October 10, 2013
Well gee I don’t know, what can I say!
The 3 Velllahla who pandered to Fascism, have no achivements to speak of in Jaffna stands victorious.
The 1 non-Vellalar with progressive views, who has been serving and engaging the public daily becomes a loser. Are you saying this has nothing to do with casteism? Is it a sign of Jaffanese or just Vellalar moral bancrupcy?
Anyways, is it true you think Sinlaese are “low caste” ? Please confirm.
Ajith / October 10, 2013
Sinhalese are Sinhalese because they speak a language called “Sinhala” and Tamils are Tamils because they speak a language called “Tamils”.
Truth / October 9, 2013
Both Kalaichelvan & Goshen Che are trying to understand the minds of the voters in the Northern Province with theories without any factual foundation. You need the expertise of a market research agency to analyse the reasons for the landslide victory of TNA despite the commendable development work done by the Government.
Goshen has omitted to mention how Prabhakaran prevented the people of Northern & Eastern Provinces from voting at the Presidential Election and collected the booty. He paid for his greed with his life. The Tamil Diaspora appears to be using the booty to get politicians, human rights activists and media people to dance to their tune.
sooriya / October 9, 2013
I have experience that how Jaffna Tamils undercut, Batticaloa or colombo low cast Tamils in the office environments.These inhuman acts shold be stopped by Tamils. These depressed Tamils really like sinhalese than Jaffna Tamils,calling them as big heads. These big heads were also trying to treat Sihanlese as Dalit…Its paradise of big head fools…
Ajith / October 9, 2013
The analysis of NPC election results by Goshan has not touched the reality of the election results. It is absolutely incorrect to claim that this election has no threat of violence. From the reports from internal and external monitors it is well documented that there was a direct and indirect threat from military and the UPFA government. This had an impact on the turnout. However, people were prepared to defy this threat because they did not want to miss this opportunity to send a message to the international community which is the sponsor for this election. The visit of Human rights council head and the presence of external monitor gave the strength to defy the state threat. We have seen evidence of vote rigging in the elections held in the south. Further there is an indirect threat against journalists and people in the south. For example the Weliveriya shooting is an indirect threat that may have had significant impact on the election results.
“”The third and perhaps the most important instance of defiance is against the separatist elements both inside and outside of Sri Lanka.””
It is an absurd and purpose built argument that Tamils in the northern province have rejected or defied against the separative elements both inside and outside. Separation is always an alternative for a proper devolution and still that is an option for Tamil people. The Oslo communique between Sri Lanka and LTTE clearly specified that they are prepared to consider a proper devolution as an alternative for separation. TNA would not have been allowed to contest in this election if they would have put forward separation in their manifesto. However, we should note that the second highest preference was “Ananthi” and even the chief minister Vigneswaran has to accept that Pirabhaharan as a Hero to get the votes of the people. The respect TNA gave to the LTTE is a clear indication to show whether it is a defiance or not.
The clear message from this election is:
Tamils are happy to live with Sinhalese as brothers (not as slaves) within a united country as equals with dignity in their traditional areas where they have been living historically.
justice / October 9, 2013
The nothern tamils mainly voted
against SUPPRESSION of their right to live freely,observing their family events without ‘supervision’, and their religious practices – bell ringing and pooja times were regulated by the army,statues of deities in most temples have disappeared overnight when only the army dare venture out,hundreds of temples looted,damaged,desecrated and demolished,statues of leaders,even that of Mahatma Ghandi’beheaded’ overnight
against OPPRESSION by denial of livelihoods – fishing times and sizes of boat engines were regulated,half the catch was plundered by the navy with destruction of nets;farming & animal husbandry denied by land grabs;businesses taken over by the army – even barber saloons and wayside boutiques,vegetable sales etc.Arbitary arrests/assaults,’grease devil’ attacks and brutal assaults of those who complained that those captured & handed over were being transported away from army camps in uniform, as happened at Navanturai,intrusive body searches of females,rapes of lonely females at night,armed robberies at night,
disappearances,dead bodies,attacks on media and homes etc.,etc.
Thus they voted agaist UPFA and EPDP who represented those responsible for their woes, and for the TNA who promised a society free of these constraints.
Sengodan. M / October 10, 2013
An objective analysis on the whole though there are elements of Truth in the comments made by Saraswathi,Ajith and justice above.
Let us hope the new Council will strive to eliminate poverty which is more of a root cause than caste for internal oppression. They will also do well to get the youth involved and empower women,especially the war widows.
Sengodan. M / October 10, 2013
Sorry, I referred to Agni, not Ajith.