By S. Sivathasan –
A difference of 180,000 votes, voted out good governance and voted in mis-governance. This was in 2005. Ironically the very creator of this misfortune was destroyed by its own creation. This was accomplished in less than four years. Now in 2015, the destroyer seems destined for destruction. By whom? By a few multiplications of the self-same 180,000. But with a difference. It is a group of multi ethnic, multi religious, multi party adversaries knit into a single entity.
The wheel of fortune appears to move mercifully on. To reward the good and to cast evil aside. Yet a few among the most affected Tamil ethnic entity want to be lukewarm. Messages that emanate are incoherent, illogical and irrational. Can any good come out of this country? Cry some in in chorus. Whatever the electoral process, the incumbent President knows how to manipulate it, say many others. Whatever the election outcome, he will remain in power. If he sees any difficulty, his brother is there to mobilise the deadliest against democracy.
Such is the universal run of perceptions. Not without some sense, but with great unrealism. The source for this stance is, past happenings not being critically examined. There is besides deep rooted fatalism. A wringing of hands against factors over-mighty. But are they all immutably real? Don’t we see a sea change from November 20th? Are not the voters coming into their own by the day?
The lurking dangers may or may not be. There is a growing awareness that peoples’ power can defeat them. In a rare unity all ethnicities have joined. The different religionists are together. Political formations are in some coalition. Collective will has prevailed for a common candidate. Ground is plumbed for a fresh leadership to evolve. Wisdom can consolidate it. Unwisdom will break it. Few are optimistic. Some have reservations. Close to Waterloo, negatives don’t happen yet others believe.
In this medley emerges the thoughtless suggestion, best is for Tamils not to vote. Can anything more ridiculous ever surface? When the proponent of this madness is confronted, he turns spoilsport. He responds; vote for both and spoil the vote. It is easier still to stay at home remaining neutral when the South fights. Unsaid wisdom is from the burning Southern house pull out an ember to light a Northern cigar. How do these tactics help the Tamil cause? All the wiseacres become speechless. Though defeated arguing still is a fringe Tamil political party, TNPF joining the fray. How illogical, irrational, irresponsible and anti-Tamil they have all become!
Ignoring all these stupidities, Tamil leaders and heads of Tamil formations have come out in resounding numbers in favour of Maithripala Sirisena as the next President.
Figures are Eloquent
How do the two contrasting positions translate to electoral figures? Total Tamil registered votes is around 1.650 million. At a turnout of 75% 1.240 million votes can be cast. At 65%, votes cast will be 1.073 m. A difference of 10% makes for 170,000 votes. If we take the mean of 70%, there is a comfortable total of 1.155 million. It rises to 1.320 million when the turnout is 80%.
In the best of times our performance was less than half our potential. At its worst the achievement was a fraction. In December 2005, our contribution was NIL. For this act of default we paid in May 2009 with 40,000 lives. The arithmetic was; 1 life = a fistful of 5 votes.
Do the proponents of boycott realise the damage they cause? Even with no talk of boycott, we exercise our franchise at a fraction of potential. With it we will lose our all. Since most Tamils know it and are geared to acting wisely, they have refused to refrain from voting. Now we look forward with confidence.
But merely refraining from a boycott wouldn’t do. In the next 10 days they have to more than double the strength of those committed as of today. This gigantic task is with the political leadership.
Comparison with the Last Days of Ravana
When Ravana approached the end of his tether, there was a sequence of pitiable happenings. A devoted Brother (Vibeeshana) (Maithri?) deserted ranks and joined Rama. After battle was joined, he lost his brothers and able commanders in war. One day when he had lost all his personal armaments, Rama gave him a respite. “Retire today and come for battle tomorrow”.
Kamban the emperor among Tamil poets described the mental state of Ravana in the Ramayana. “Ravana the King of Lanka, was in lamentable mental travail, like one deep in debt”. How true in the current scene! The founder of the Dynasty, very nearly the ‘King of Lanka’, who quadrupled the Public Debt is now in deep trouble.