17 July, 2019

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Rejoinder To A Rejoinder: The Politics Of ITAK

By Shanthi  Sachithanandam

Shanthi Sachithanandam

I must thank  Dr. Kalaichelvan  for buttressing the argument in my earlier article with the following conclusion in his article, although it was arrived in a  rather long winded  manner. I quote him, “The more serious issue here is that the Eelam Tamils should sincerely conduct introspection into our social fabric and honestly confront the evils of our society, in order to transform into a progressive and ethic-based democratic body politic. Effectively, there should be a process of reconciliation must be happening within the Tamil body politic, and any attempt to discredit and ignore the dissenting voices, wont succeed and in fact it may endanger the whole architecture of Tamil nation building project.” That is exactly the point I was putting forth.

But then I also sense his anger at what he sees as my attempt to “scuttle the new political consensus that is emerging from the Tamil body politic” which is why he has gone to some lengths in describing the  “polemic” and “pedantic”  aspects of my article. A political consensus is a mirage that does not exist anywhere, neither amongst the majority nor amongst the minority. Making an apparently lofty call for political consensus is, I consider, a crude attempt at silencing dissent. In order to propel the debate forward  I would like to help by throwing in some food for thought, doing a Ram Jethmalani here. Ram Jethmalani was a lawyer who campaigned assiduously  for transparency and accountability in the Bofors (Arms) deal in India in the 1980s. As part of his campaign he used to pose just ten questions daily published in the Indian express, to the then Prime Minister Mr Rajiv Gandhi. In addition to multiplying the readership of Indian Express, these questions also raised awareness of the people on the issue and led to many retractions by the Congress government. So here they come.

  1. Can a 800 c.c car run a Grand Prix? Similarly, could a three member team be substituted for a party  apparatus that could organize the political and voter education of the Sri Lankan Tamils, as well as work amongst the Sinhala community, all the while bringing the world Tamil community together on international advocacy issues?
  2. Why is it that caste affiliations, family affiliations, and regionalism play very important roles in the selection of candidates for any of the elections in the North and East rather than merit, capacity, past record of service rendered, and integrity? Why do you think political parties fuel these differences that undermine our unity and credibility?
  3. Why is it that consultants who work with bilateral and multilateral aid projects in the North and East, confirm the Sri Lankan government’s assertions that funds allocated for the development of those areas are being taken back because the elected councilors do not have the capacity to spend them?
  4. Despite seeing the caste conflicts, incidents of violence against women, and the inter- ethnic conflicts that have arisen in various parts of North and East, why haven’t our political parties been the vanguard of a movement for social transformation?
  5. Why are the other constituent parties of the TNA now  raising questions related to decision making processes and also transparency and accountability in the way funds  received by ITAK have been spent?
  6. Why is it that the central committee members of ITAK complain openly that they are not informed of important decisions within the party?
  7. Why is it almost impossible to see any active party youth groups anywhere in the North and East? Why are the old leaders still in the saddle?
  8. Why is it that except standing for elections, conducting Talks with the government, and organizing demonstrations here and there, no new activities and strategies have been evolved by the party for the past fifty years?
  9. Could spending a substantial amount of time in India for personal reasons help us to meet all of these challenges in Sri Lankan politics?
  10. When a political party does not respect the principles of power sharing, transparency and accountability within its own structures, and subscribes to exploitative social relations within its support base, could it have the moral authority to demand a just solution from the Sri Lankan government?

Despite such gaping holes in Tamil politics, the Tamils continue not only to vote for this, but also to not making any attempts to find alternatives for themselves. It is Dr. Kalaichelvan who has explained this as  “The backward culture of Tamil body politic is simply the reflection of the society that holds this body politic”.  I will refrain from commenting on this and leave the conclusion to the readers.

Negotiations are possible only if there is the capacity to force a solution. A true non violence movement  brings that capacity to the table.  “Talks” pretends to trust the good sense of the other side, which is meaningless in power politics. Thusydides in his ‘A Comprehensive Guide to Peloponnesian War’ has said that  “Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.”   In negotiations, the strong are made acutely aware that they will pay a high political cost if they fail to reach and honour a mutually acceptable compromise. The Sinhalese leaders unilaterally abrogated the B-C Pact and D-C Pact because they knew Tamil politicians were incapable of enforcing a cost to treachery. The fact that Sinhalese did what they wished, and Tamils suffered what they must, only confirms that Greek wisdom. The speech of Mr. Sambandan saying that if those pacts had been implemented this country will not be in this position today, has a pathetic ring to it seeking excuses for the powerlessness of the ITAK.  As for “The ITAK/TNA talking with the government of the day could be the only sensible policy translation of a non-violence politics” is indeed hilarious.

I think I have explained adequately about the basis of a non violence movement in my previous article so do not wish to dwell more on that subject. Finally, I cannot possibly conclude this response without referring to his outbursts regarding the so called “ Jaffna  bourgeois elite”. Wherever they maybe, in North America, Europe or Australia, perhaps Dr. Kalaichelvan should address his concerns to them.

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Latest comments

  • 0
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    Go Shanthi! I’d vote for you.

    We need gutsy Tamil WOMEN to be the change in the moribund Tamil political culture, and then transform the Moribund Sinhala political culture.

    DEAD ON, BE OF GOOD FAITH and the world will be yours!

  • 0
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    Hope this discussion can lead to better leadership and more women leaders in Tamil politics and Politics in general in Sri Lanka.

    Sri Lanka Tamils in particular need dynamic WOMEN to lead them. Women in Tamil society have been kept down my the violence and LTTE dictatorship as are the Sinhala women today by the Rajapassa dictatorship who only appoints foolish women like Upavithra Vaniarachchi.

    Now is the time of Women who are the back bone of Tamil Society and social fabric during war years while the men killed each other – to lead the way to a better place. 33 percent reservations so that capable women is a must.

  • 0
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    How dare Mr. Kalaiselvan refer to Shanti as “ Jaffna bourgeois elite”?? He is obviously incompetent. If he knew the abc of politics, he would recognize her as a Comprador elite.

  • 0
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    I agree with Lakshmi,Cassandra and Nathan.
    It is high time women enter the fray in the north.
    The old fossils of the male gender should retire from active politics.

  • 0
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    So whatever happened to ‘Vizhuth’ and its’ Chairperson ‘Shanthi Sachchithanandam’?

    Maybe ‘Vizhthu’ should address these 10 questions and if that organization survives only on the basis of ‘funding’ from INGOs that probably not doing a Ram Jethmalani on ‘Vishuthu’ itself?

    There has been web presence of ‘Vizhuthu’ every now and then over the past several years, and now nothing.

    So all this social transformation requires INGO funding?

    If thats the case ITAK and political parties have to be allowed to be the ‘legislators’ job they are being paid to do, rather then expecting or forcing them to become ‘liberators’.

    • 0
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      How much Rajapakse getting from CHINA?

  • 0
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    It is the women who are the backbone of the north and east that are rising from amidst the ashes of war! They are also the abused, exploited and forgotten. They are the most vulnerable, but also simultaneously the most resilient. They are our hope for the future.

    Dr.RN

  • 0
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    Four days passed and no sign of response from ITAK for Shanthi’s valid questions. Come on Sumanthiran, please answer to these questions or let your minion in London to answer.

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