By Thambu Kanagasabai –
The next Presidential Election has pitted two candidates both belonging to the same party, Sri Lanka Freedom Party. One is sitting and the other a choice from circumstances, arising from the divisive and divided opposing parties and groups who got united for the common purpose to defeat Rajapaksa’s family empire and their foot hold in Sri Lanka, while seeking personal revenge for the past acts of revenge.
As far as the Tamils are concerned, Tamils have no reasons to cheer about this election. However, one thing remains clear for them. There are thousands of reasons to oppose Mahinda while there is no one reason to support Maithri who is nothing but a proxy representing opposition parties, which are temporarily united with their communal politics, Buddhist –Sinhala concept intact coupled with an agenda to liquidate or destroy the political power, strength and identity of minorities, Tamils and Muslims along with their religions.
The past history of experiences of Tamils from 1956 need not be recounted here. The various communal riots and pogroms of Tamils amounting to genocide which commended from 1956 and still going on as structural genocide in the east and north are staring at the faces of Tamils. This agenda is the common goal of all south political parties. And if anyone thinks, there will be a change for the better with a new Maithri or old Mahinda they are sadly mistaken. It will be nothing but a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
The one common thread running through the victories of UNP or SLFP parties in the general elections is the communal propaganda with cries of “Tamils are planning to divide the country” bogey of Tiger” Buddhism in danger” though protected by constitution. Currently the main planks of south parties’ propaganda have been nothing but only based on sellout to the Tamils. The south parties are searching for any hints, expression, remarks or clues emanating from the opposing parties or TNA which touch on “solution to the problems of Tamils” whether “13” or “13 plus” which is a hollow solution for Tamils.
Mahinda and company are facing daunting task to win the election due to the gathering strength of opposing parties and organizations.
Thanks to his family rules, and the dictatorial attitude with bribery, corruption, acts of revenge and degrading his Ministers and MPs as non- entities and dumb heads. He and his clans are frantically searching for any communal issue for their support. And it will not be surprising if they cling on to the cry of opposition parties and minorities conspiring to give in to the Tamil’s demands of separation. It is to be noted that TNA has already given a written undertaking to parliament upholding the unitary Govt. and renouncing separation not with- standing the 1976 TUF resolution in Vaddukoddai.
Past experiences of promises, undertakings, joint statements, pacts and agreements being consigned to garbage, while some torn, some gathering dust, some forgotten or discarded as quickly as possible.
Example: Banda – Chelva facts, Dudly- Chelva agreement, Indo-Lanka Accord, 13th Amendment, joint agreement with UN’s Ban-Ki-Moon, promises to Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi, various Foreign minister of India during the war and after the war beside seductive and deceptive promises to TNA, Sampanthan, Wigneshwaran and others including foreign dignitaries which are varied and many. They have been conveniently forgotten and buried. Regarding the opposition candidate Maithripala Srisena there is nothing to tell at present, except he is described as a good man. The danger lying behind this “Good Man” qualities is the inability on his part to take bold action on his own as he will be tied up with and bound by the other seasoned cunning politicians like Ranil, Chandrika along with the Buddhist extremist groups who are emerging forces to scuttle any moves of president or Govt. if they feel anti- Buddhist or anti Sinhala.
Ranil behaves gently and does things harshly behind the doors and the young budding leaders like Sajith Premathasa will not deviate from the path of other leaders.
Choice For TNA And Tamils
The bitter haunting experiences of the past suffered by the Tamils and their political leaders leave us with only two options.
1. TNA to stay neutral by not supporting any candidate.
2. North and East Tamils be allowed to exercise their democratic rights to choose one of the candidates or none.
Following methods in the elections will reflect the mood of Tamil voters:
1. Complete boycott of the election.
2. Going to vote and casting for none of the candidates with any signs there by spoiling the ballot box and showing their disapproval of any candidate.
The best course of action for TNA is to allow the Tamil voters to use their democretic rights on their own will, freedom and decision as per the dictates of their conscience. Tamils are politicaly matured enough to make decisions except a few who live on the crumbs falling from the Government tables. Others are fully conscious and well informed citizen who cannot be fooled or cajoled anymore with deceptive smiling faces and mouths dishing out dishonest pledges.
TNA therefore should consider requesting the Tamil voters to exercise their voiting rights freely by voting for any candidate who they feel will not take them down the hill or not to vote for anyone or simply show their disapproval by abstaining from voting. Abstaining to vote is also an exercise of the democratic rights which allows FREEDOM of decision regarding voting. The options being normal voting or no vote or abtention. It is to be noted that UN and other bodies allow and recognise by abtenction by states during voting periods for any resolution or staying nutral.
If TNA chooses to support any candidate either directly or indirectly, it will be another unpardonable historical blunder as happened in the past when the militant leadership requested the Tamils to boycott the election instead of allowing them to exercise their democratic rights of voting to any one according to their conscience. The fall out of the miscalculation is now a sad history. It will be therefore prudent and wise for TNA to leave the voting option and decision to the beleagured Tamils. The Tamil voters surely remember the proverb “Once bitten twice shy”, and are wise enough now not to trust any pledges doled out by Mahinda or Maithiri in any part of the Island. This appears to be the prevailing opininon of majority Tamils worldwide.
However Tamil voters won’t regret if the intelligent Sinhala voters remove Mahinda and his family rule, to restore demorcracy, freedom of assembly and expression and independent judiciary, restore law and order while cleansing the country of bribery, corruption, nepotism and favouritism.
But for the Tamils the old proverb whether “Raman or Ravanan rules” applies always. They have to live up with a Sinhala – Buddhist rule like a “New wine in the old bottle”.
*Thambu Kanagasabai LL.M (London) – Former Lecturer in Law,University Of Colombo