15 December, 2017

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NPC Elections: Sampanthan’s Leadership To TNA And The Way Forward

By R. Balachandran

R. Balachandran

TNA’s overwhelming victory in the Northern Provincial Council has become the talk of the town as it results clearly showcased the aspiration of the Tamil people in the North.

Even though the TNA’s victory in the election was predicted well ahead, the final result came as a scathing blow to the ruling UPFA alliance. The reason behind this is that, TNA’s plead to the people in the North to give them not just a win but a two thirds majority was granted emphatically.

Given the prevailing situation in the country, TNA’s landmark victory in the Northern Provincial Council could be attributed the party’s strategically planned and executed election campaign.

Selection of Mr. C.V. Wigneswaran as the chief ministerial candidate

Unlike for the Eastern Provincial Council elections, the TNA had to decide on a chief ministerial candidate for the Northern Provincial Council elections.

This, however, proved to be an opportunity for the party’s leader, Mr. Sampanthan, to learn from past blunders. The veteran politician did not make the same mistake twice as he went on to impose himself on the party’s decision to select a Chief Ministerial candidate.

It was not an easy decision for Mr. Sampanthan as all those who opposed Mr. Wigneswaran and supported Mavai Senathirajah had valid reasons for their arguments. In spite of the internal riff raff, Mr. Sampanthan tactfully brought the TNA to a consensus at a very tough parliamentary group meeting.  Looking back, there is no doubt that the outcome of that monumental meeting was emphatically manifested in Saturday’s election results.

Mr. Wigneswaran’s nomination as the party’s chief ministerial candidate was a crucial decision in TNA’s election campaign. It not only gave hope to the politically starved electorate of the North in reminiscence of Tamil politics in its hay day where politicians were educated, eloquent and highly respected but also presented the daunting challenge to the UPFA to nominate a suitable opponent.

Pulling the Cart together

Just before the announcement of Mr. Wigneswaran as the CM candidate, there was a very strong opinion among the majority of the people that the TNA was going to dismantle. In fact it wasn’t a wrong prediction by the people. But having experienced similar situations in the past Mr. Sampanthan was able to hold everybody together around the table. While respecting everybody’s views and different opinions, he asserted himself to ensure that the final decision remained people-centric.

Personally I think, in comparison, the reason behind the failure of Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe’s leadership of the UNP has been his inability to rally his party around the real need of the people.

Mr. Sampanthan, on the other hand, a master at this, epitomized his prowess to rally people around the party and its cause, by even accommodating Mr. Anandasangari. It is this skill that has enabled Mr. Sampanthan to give leadership to the party’s historic victory at the Northern Provincial Council elections.

Responding to opposition

One area in which TNA set the bench mark at this election was the way in which it responded to the criticism that came their way.

Especially during the last two weeks of the campaign, the TNA manifesto became the talking point of the country. Nevertheless, being a party that traditionally represented Tamil people over the years ITAK/TNA had the choice of taking a silent approach as they had confidence that the people in the North were well aware of what they had spelled out in their manifesto. But, instead the TNA took an unorthodox approach and countered every single opposition that was raised. However, the TNA went about this in a strategic manner and the eloquence and trilingual abilities of the party’s leaders such as M.A Sumanthiran made this task much easier.

In fact Mr. Sumanthiran took part in several political talk shows that were aired in Sinhala and articulated the TNA’s point of view on several matters. Apart from that, the TNA also held several media briefing during the campaign to clearly spell out the party’s stand on these matters.

If I am not mistaken, it has always been either Mr. Sampanthan or Mr. Sumanthiran who engaged the media and explained the position of TNA, where as the others were heavily involved in campaigning.

Message from the North

While the ruling UPFA coalition government reaffirmed its position of political dominance by claiming landslide victories in both the North Central and North Western Provincial Councils, there was a clear and unequivocal rejection of the ruling government by the people in the North.

The result of the Northern Provincial elections was an emphatic message from the people in the North that development is not all they seek.

It is high time that President Rajapaksa’s government realize that solving the country’s ethnic problem remains utmost priority.

Therefore the time has come for the government to take serious note of this resounding message. Knowing the constituent parties of the coalition government (its more or less like a fruit salad) this task is not going to be an easy one. But if our focus is to achieve meaningful reconciliation, then, this step becomes a significant one.

The way forward

Finally if we are to achieve sustainable reconciliation in this country, I strongly believe for starters, the abolition of victory day celebrations is an absolute prerequisite.

Firstly the government’s view of itself is contradicted when it comes to this matter. Because on one side government claimed that the final phase of the war was entirely a humanitarian operation while on the other hand, in great insensitivity, goes on celebrating the military triumph with pompous pageantry.

Secondly the amount of money that has been spent on this event every year could be used to alleviate the living standards of the war affected people including disabled soldiers, and their families.

The alternate

When I suggest we abolish the victory day, the immediate question that springs to mind is how do we replace it and with what do we replace it with? My answer to that question would be a “National Day of Remembrance”.

This approach will give every community the space they need to remember their loved ones who were lost during the war. At present the focus of the Victory Day is tightly fixated on the sacrifices made by the armed forces alone. We should not, however, forget the thousands of civilians who lost loved ones during the three decade long war.

Opportunities, as one nation, to remember the people we lost in the war could in fact, help create a ‘Sri-Lankan’ mindset in every citizen of this country.

Sri Lanka is at an important stage of her history. Our actions now, will determine her future. We cannot move ahead in ignorance. Failure to put right past mistakes would deter any future effort for reconciliation.

We need to start somewhere. One such place could be the abolition of the Victory Day. We simply cannot have one part of Sri Lanka drunken with ecstatic triumphalism whiles the other in pitiful mourning.

The time has come for us to move forward as one country. The people of the North are simply demanding the right to equal citizenship including the right to mourn their dead.

This was echoed in the overwhelming mandate given to the TNA in the Northern Provincial Council election last week.

Let’s not ignore the verdict of the people in the North.

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Latest comments

  • 0
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    A very genuine comment by a concerned Tamil. Bensen

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    Ban Mahinda Chinthanaya the Mahavamsa Chinthanaya as the opium of the masses. Then Sri Lanka problem is solved for ever.

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      if we can throw away you with mahinda, only then prob is solved

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        Your Chinthanaya is Mahavamsa Chinthanaya!

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          There is nothing called mahavamsa chinthanaya. mahavamsa is a hidtory book. Also any chinthanaya is better than the chinthanaya of a coward who flee and fund and glorify terrorists

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    Excellent article. However, Victory Day can only be supplemented, not replaced, by a National day of Remembrance. the only thing that can replace Victory day is perhaps a Defense Day or Armed Forces day.

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      Majoritarian speaking!

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        Why dayan muppet never Sinhala voters how to vote in elections….see the difference
        Sinhalease voted for Botttle arrack, kassippu, cheap quality mobile phone and some just 1000 rupees. Tamils vote for their dignity, equality and justice. What difference…..

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      “a Defense Day or Armed Forces day”

      You missed the point Dr DJ!

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      Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

      “Victory Day can only be supplemented, not replaced, by a National day of Remembrance.”

      Why not, just erase it from national calender. Victory over what, a foreign enemy?

      I do not remember Sinhala/Buddhists celebrating victory over JVP defeat.

      “the only thing that can replace Victory day is perhaps a Defense Day or Armed Forces day.”

      Who did come up with such rules?

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        Native Vedda,

        You hit the nail on the head of this hypocrite.

        Whack the hypocrites with your axe handle!

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      Dayan

      Please read my comment, if carried, below the next piece, by Mahendran T.
      I am absolutely against this annual commemorative military parade. This was a civil war or conflict and one part of us “lost”. How can we, if we aspire to a certain kind of “wholeness” — a united state of some kind — parade a show of arms in perpetual memory of such a terrible happening. This is not the way to reconciliation. And before anyone says it was simply an armed militant group that was defeated (and that is debatable – both meanings), the parade of arms in commemoration of that bloody war is painful to more Sri Lankans than “Tamil only”.

      But I dont want to get myself into a discussion about this, as i have neither the energy, intellectual vigour nor heart for it. It should surely be obvious to any who cares for a resolution of our painful predicament.

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        Excellent words, Manel. I hope Dayan grasps what they mean!

        Sengodan. M

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          The ‘eduacted’ DJ is a dyed-in-wool Sinhalese extremist Lee Kuan Yew was talking about.

          With these kinds of ‘intellectuals’ influencing peoples’ opinions ethnic/religious problems will fester for ever.

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        manel fonseka

        I am sure you would have read this a few months ago in one one of those recycled article Dayan forcefully argued for Interim Northern Provincial Council.

        His recommendation of appointees included Anandasangaree, Shanker Nesan (who?) and few others.

        Now you know how popular Anandasangree is who managed to get about 2,000 votes and lost the elections.

        Dayan got it wrong.

        One is not questioning his judgment but his intentions.

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      A Victory Day as such speaks loud only about triumphalism and will never ever be conducive towards reconciliation!

      Sengodan. M

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        It will keep Tamils united and oriented towards their goal of freedom from oppression.

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      Dayan ( Dr Removed)

      Supplement means you add to the Original

      Repalce means you get rid of the Original and replace it with something New.

      In a Sri Lankan context Victory Day is for us Tamils for the following reason.

      We emerged victorious on the 22nd and it is a new begining. That cannot be supplemented.

      Remembranace Days is for You: To remebmer the day you lost control of the North. You can replace it with a day of Mourning to remember the death of a United Sri Lanka. We can never be United but instead we can be neighbours.
      There are a lot of Sihalese Dogs still barking and some wagging their Tails. I say to the ones which Barking go to a Lamp Post and up your legs.

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    Mr Balachandran says:
    “The people of the North are simply demanding the right to equal citizenship including the right to mourn their dead”.
    The Sri Lankan citizenship is bestowed on all; Tamils, Sinhalese, Moors and each and every person born in Sri Lanka. What else is there to demand in that regard? What aspects of citizenship the people of the North do not have?
    May I remind the author it was the people from the North who declared war on the Sinhalese, and kicked started the killing spree. The political leadership of the North are free to start the reconcilliation by acknowledging that fact, followed by an apology to the nation. Recocilliation will follow.

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      Dear Lal
      “May I remind the author it was the people from the North who declared war on the Sinhalese”
      You need to learn the history from 1948
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1958_riots_in_Ceylon

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      lal

      “What else is there to demand in that regard? What aspects of citizenship the people of the North do not have?”

      If you haven’t found out what the minorities have been demanding in the past, I tell you, there is 0% chance that you will ever find out.

      “May I remind the author it was the people from the North who declared war on the Sinhalese, and kicked started the killing spree.”

      According to my elders it was the South which first declared war on Sinhala/Buddhist state in 1971.

      “The political leadership of the North are free to start the reconcilliation by acknowledging that fact, followed by an apology to the nation. Recocilliation will follow.”

      They should unreservedly apologize to the entire island.

      However the Sinhala/Buddhists and their state should apologise to the minorities for all atrocities committed against all people, including 1915, 1958,1977, 1983, 1791, between 1987 and 1991, the 30 years,……….crimes that you have forget to mention.

      For a moment, lets forget the genocide of my people over 2,500 years.

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        Tx Native Vedda.
        This is for Lal and people like him http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riots_in_Sri_Lanka

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        NV,

        What minorities demanding is one thing. Citizenship is another matter. My contention stands.
        Citizenship is a set of rights all citizens are entitled to. There are no special rights attached to one group in Sri Lanka. Read the current Citizenship Act.
        Tamil nationalist groups are quick to point out incidents in 1958, 1983 and blame it all on the state or the sinhalese. They never say that those incidents were started by Tamils, and the first victims were sinhalese. It seems Tamil natinalism is addicted to claims of victimisation and playing the victimisation card!
        A minority demand of 50-50 representation is not a right, but an unreasonable demand. Nor is 50-50 reservation of state employment and university entry. If those demands are implemented the majority would be massively discriminated against.
        You need to do some homework on the 1915 incident, which took place during British Occupation, not under a sinhala state. The sinhalese were the real victims, being slaughtered in thousands by British troops and their mercentrary assocites from India (mainly Punjabi). The British planters too were given authority (priviledge/right) to shoot sinhalese at sight.
        Wikileaks is not a realiable source to access information. Blame all on sinhalese? By the way, something for “thinking” Veddahs to ponder – there are no Veddahs in the Northern Province. Care to guess what happened?

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          lal

          they were wise not to stay where there was not much water.

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          “A minority demand of 50-50 representation is not a right, but an unreasonable demand. “

          Please read this first http://sangam.org/g-g-ponnambalams-50-50-speech-to-sri-lankas-state-council-1939/

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          Lal,
          On 50-50, you may find the discussion on this link useful https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/response-to-dr-godfrey-gunatilleke/

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          Lal,
          “You need to do some homework” – I am doing my homework. Are you?

          BROKEN PROMISES (AN HISTORICALRECORD OF HOW SINHALALEADERS MAKE AND BREAK) COMPILED AND EDITED BY M. THIRUNAVUKKARASU
          http://www.scribd.com/doc/15571854/Broken-Promises

          Track record of Sri Lankan Commissions http://tamilsforum.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Track_Record.pdf.pdf

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          lal

          “What minorities demanding is one thing. Citizenship is another matter. My contention stands.”

          No stupid man, your knowledge of Citizenship is pathetic.

          Minorities are not demanding any special status or rights for themselves alone, devolve powers to every citizen of this island, devolved powers to all nine provinces, devolved powers to Municipal Councils, devolution right from top to bottom.

          Power to people from leviathan.

          When citizenship rights were demanded in 1956 just after the introduction of Sinhala only language policy it was not special rights that they demanded, a demand for restoring their democratic rights.

          In 1948 when substantial number of hard working workers were made stateless they didn’t demand special status, they only demanded they should be treated as other citizens.

          When people in the North demanded that their land should be returned to them it is not special minority demand stupid man, they were only exercising their right to own their property.

          When people demanded clean water it is their right to have access to clean water. It is not special demand by minorities.

          There are millions of reasons we can find as to why they should be treated as citizens.

          “Tamil nationalist groups are quick to point out incidents in 1958, 1983 and blame it all on the state or the sinhalese.”

          ????????????????????????????
          !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !

          Go on, rewrite history, Jaffna library was burned down by LTTE, the police was only helping them.

          Tamils/LTTE formed the JVP in the mid sixties.

          SWRD Banda was killed by LTTE suicide bomber wearing saffron robe.

          D S Senanayake fell from horse and died because it was a bad Tamil horse.

          Anagarika Dharmapala (the homeless one) was made homeless by SJV Chelvanayagam.

          You can continue your history writing. Feel free to use the above historical facts in order to spice up your novel.

          In 1915 it was the LTTE which slaughtered Muslims and then sent Pon Ramanathan to argue the case against Muslims.

          Was it LTTE or Federal Party? Federal party was founded in 1949 hence it was LTTE which massacred Muslims in 1915.

          “Blame all on sinhalese?”

          No they are too stupid to be blamed, I am blaming the Sinhala/Buddhists.

          “By the way, something for “thinking” Veddahs to ponder – there are no Veddahs in the Northern Province.”

          According to our traditions when thugs came to my ancestral land in Kallathonies about 2,500 years ago my ancestors decided to commit suicide en masse rather than living with the illegal immigrants.

          They built Kantharodai stupas before their death.

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            lal

            It appears you are willing to cut off your nose to spite your face. What a stupid person you are.

            We don’t want stupid people like you in our ancestral land. Please go back to your homeland in India where you will fit in well and feel at home than here in this island.

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          Lal,

          You really are a Stupid Sinhalese Racist. Who else would say other than an ignorant Racist that the 1958 race riots was started by Tamils. You bloody moron and I am glad we are parting company. Try and stop us if you can. Who were the first Sinhalese victims. If proof was ever need as to why there can never be any Reconciliation you have proved it either through Ignorance or intentionally and I think it is the latter.

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      lal:

      Rather than remind the author, you need to slap yourself to awaken from your pretense slumber. All the conciliatory overtures by the Tamils over the years since independence were met and dealt with through thuggery, rowdyism and brute force. What pride can a nation have when its leaders enter into agreements only to tear them up later. The Sinhala Only Act, the 1971 Republican Constitution, the 1983 Black July are but only some of the events that triggered the Tamil youths to vent their frustration and anger through force. Such a manifestation became possible because successive govts duped/cheated Tamil moderate leaders and for all their moderate approach, the majority Sinhala reply was brute force.

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      The smallest minority on earth is the individual.
      Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.

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    Good suggestions. It may be an equally good idea to turn the light inwards and examine to what extent the TNA’s own behavior is contributing to the tensions and animosity?

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    Vadakundi Resolution betrayed by TNA within just 4 years after Thalaivar went to hell!!

    Biggest threat to TNA comes from LTTE which is still active in TN.

    TNA compromised on the Tamil cause.

    How can TNA agree to northern province only? Tamil Elam includes eastern province too.

    By betraying the Tamil Elam Vadakundi Resolution cause, TNA has come in the firing line of the LTTE.

    Remember Amirthalingam, Thiruchelvam?

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      Fathima Fuckshima:
      Remember Jim Nutty?

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        Youth,

        You are mistaken. Jim Sooty is Senile and Fat ” Mama” Fuk U Shima the smelly one is Virile and Jim cant meet the demand.
        It is a supply and demand.
        As a youth you might be able to meet the Demand. But you will have to compete with Foreign Vedda.

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    Victory day celebration should never be suspended . it was a victroy over terrorism not the Tamils.

    • 0
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      exactly

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      The problem is we have not defeated terrorism. What has happened is one terrorist group is replaced by another.
      Do you remember what happened to people who asked for water?

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    Hindus have a “victory day” called Deepawali.
    It is a day of celebration of triumph of Good over Evil.
    It is too early to celebrate – evil yet lurks in many forms – covertly in minds and overtly with/without identification.
    Tamils in the north,have borne the brunt,but hope for releif in the future.

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    The Writer is a new – and welcome – voice in the National Debate. A fine study and a non-polemical contribution. TNA’s resounding victory, arguably, was due to sheer team work. Sampanthan’s long experience and sagacity prevented a split in the Party by bringing in a fresh face – unblemished by any attachment to the much-feared Tamil militancy in the South – of the learned, pleasant and religiously-inclined Justice Vigneswaran. That great contribution by Mavai Senathirajah – a popular choice for the post of CM/NPC – in not only eventually yielding but
    visiting CVG at home at the last minute and proclaiming the unanimous support of the Party for his choice as Candidate. This is the face of peaceful and democratic politics that also saw the popular senior politician Anandasangari in the TNA team. The excellent job done by lawyers M/s. Sampanthan and Sumanthiran in keeping the cacophony of protestations from the extreme Sinhala South by able and convincing media releases assuaging Sinhala fears. Sumanthiran went further, months ago, by visiting the heart of the Sinhala South – Galle and Matara – in meeting with and speaking to the Sinhala people and assuring the party’s commitment to work within an undivided country. Above all, the almost unanimous support of the Tamil Nation, within and without, in closing ranks to give the TNA a 5/6th majority. Accepting Sampanthan, hailing from Trincomalee, to unanimously lead the Tamil nation is further proof Tamils are slowly but surely shedding their earlier divisive prejudices. Well done.

    But the work has just begun. It will be rocky. Already in middle and upper middle class circles in the South educated Sinhalese are speaking in whispers. The fear that North Sri Lanka will link with Tamilnadu will grow – and will be misused as a political weapon. There is also the fear the UN, which the Rajapakses have alienated by the wrong kind of diplomacy, will encourage the balkanisation of the island on the strength of the overwhelming Tamil democratic concensus. The Rajapakses will do little to dismiss this as the divide serves their interests. They know without adequate funding the NPC can fail. Basil R has already given indications of what the minds of the brothers are on this score.

    The priority today is not Victory or Remembrance Day. Personally, my view is Feb 04 is sufficient to include all of this and we do not need any more divisive remembrances. The main thing is to give blood and muscle to the NPC to be encouraged to remain in the national fold.

    As President Rajapakse wryly commented “api hithuve tharang yaka kalu nae” (The devil is not as black as we imagined) It is left to the Rajapakse family – and only to them – to bring back the Tamils to the pre-1956 reality.

    Senguttuvan

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      Nice summary Sengu; brilliant actually! May fools change their ways and peace be given a chance to reign in our dear country.

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    I didn’t hear of drums beating the victory sounds in Jaffna and the north,neither have I heard of women making ‘paal choru’ by the way side.Niether have I heard flags tied to trishaws and cars sounding their horns to make all stone deaf.

    The calm has settled over hearts that grieved for so long.They now await in HOPE.

    Lets see who has to apologize to whom,who has to take the first step for reconciliation etc.
    After the war the latter was expected from the Tamils not only to the country but to each army guy stationed in the north.If weliveriya citizens went down on their knees they would have got clean water.Looks like they did.

    4 yrs after the war it didn’t look like the Tamils bowed their heads.
    Forcibly took from some their pride and the will to live.

    What will be the outcome after the victory?

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    Excellent piece. Great contributions by Sengu, Native Veddah et al.

    As per Pole Vaulter GL Peiris, the Govt is under severe pressure from the International Community to deliver on the promises of the GOSL. He and Dayan. J., knows that the international community learnt from the Balkans, how to squeeze both sides and force a solution in conflicts. The IC helped the GOSL to get rid of the LTTE, and now the GOSL is asked to deliver as promised.

    It will be wise for the GOSL to work with the Northern Provincial Council. Any attempt to undermine it will only further support the position of the Tamil Community.

    Interesting times are ahead for the motherland.

    Btw, shouldn’t the Sinhalese ask, where are our Vigneswerans, Sampanthans and Sumanthirans.

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      Welcome back, Visvajith. Did I read somewhere you are of Sinhala-Tamil parentage. If that welcome group can organise itself they can make a tremendous input to our badly-needed search for unity and reconciliation.

      Senguttuvan

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        Yes, you are correct. An interesting position to be in. We must gather our selves for the Nation,an Inclusive Nation.

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    Here is a chance for a political leader to turn into a STATESMAN – a
    far fetched propostion knowing the family track-record I guess.

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    Balachandran,

    It was a good account of what has transpired. But I have a differrent take on your assertion that the scale of victory for the TNA came as a surpise to UPFA. But I think they were ware of what to expect and as they had anticiptated much worse had done the ground work to rig the elections. What surprised me was the 8 seats they got despite there being 2000 foreign foreign monitors and the level of army involevment. for GOSL

    Your account below shows your inexperience:

    1)When I suggest we abolish the victory day, the immediate question that springs to mind is how do we replace it and with what do we replace it with? My answer to that question would be a “National Day of Remembrance”.

    You are talking about something which doesnt make any sense in the current context.
    We havent won the war. We have only emerged victorious under the noses of the Army .

    I may agree with the word Remembrance as follows: To remember individually in our homes that our fortunes took a turn for the better on the 22nd but we have a long way to go before we talk about Victory Day and Remebrance Day.
    That only appplies to nations and we are not a NATION yet.

    2)This approach will give every community the space they need to remember their loved ones who were lost during the war. At present the focus of the Victory Day is tightly fixated on the sacrifices made by the armed forces alone. We should not, however, forget the thousands of civilians who lost loved ones during the three decade long war.

    With your above observation what you are referring to again is something which doesnt make any sense in the current context. If it is any comfort to you I would say that the Remebrance day is not one single day but 365 days a years as every day that passes the mothers fathers the orphans and the widows remember their loved ones.

    3) Finally if we are to achieve sustainable reconciliation in this country, I strongly believe for starters, the abolition of victory day celebrations is an absolute prerequisite.

    Here again your inexperience shows through as what we need for a Sustanable Reconciliation is accountability (and not Abolition of Victory Day Celebrations) as those who were responsible for the Genocide( to be punished ) cannot be part of the Reconciliation Process.

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