20 May, 2019

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Tangled Webs

By Tisaranee Gunasekara

“History, despite its wrenching pain,

Cannot be unlived, but if faced

With courage, need not be lived again.”

Maya Angelou (On the Pulse of Morning)

The Rajapaksas will not devolve power; not unless they are pushed to the wall, and left with no way out, not even a peephole.

Only an external power can generate such an irresistible force.

Will Modi-India be that power?

Over the years, the Rajapaksas had mastered the art of ‘Hoodwinking Delhi with a Sincere Face’. They developed a Dodgy Dance, made up of promises, pronouncements, evasions and denials, which enabled them to make slipperiness look like flexibility.

The Dodgy Dance worked to perfection with Congress-India. Will it work equally well with Narendra Modi’s India?

Mahinda ModiAccording to Indian Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh, devolution figured in the discussions between PM Modi and President Rajapaksa: “Early and full implementation of the 13th Amendment and going well beyond[i].

Colombo made no open denial. Instead its official statement emphasised that President Rajapaksa and PM Modi discussed reconciliation, fishermen and Sampur; any mention of devolution (13 or 13+) was conspicuous by its absence.[ii]

The Dodgy Dance has already begun.

The discrepancy between the two public stances did not go unnoticed by Indian media: “Interestingly while foreign secretary said that the 13th Amendment issue had been discussed ‘at some length’ there was no mention of this in the press release from the office of Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa[iii].

One of these weeks Sushma Swaraj will be winging her way to Colombo. Will the new External Affairs Minister feel a sense of déjà vu, as she listens to President Rajapaksa’s straight-faced and sincere assurances of unwavering commitment to 13+? Will she remember how she was treated to a blinding dose of Rajapaksa Maya, when she led a parliamentary delegation here, in her capacity as India’s Opposition Leader?

In April 2012, Ms. Swaraj and her delegation discussed devolution with President Rajapaksa. A Congress parliamentarian declared that “the team had taken up various issues with the Lankan President including devolution of powers to Tamil-speaking areas”[iv]. Going by her confident mien, Ms. Swaraj (a hard-as-nails political operative, according to all accounts) was obviously certain that she had managed to unravel the Gordian knot of devolution. The delusion did not last long. Just days later Agrarian Services Minister, SM Chandrasena stated, “Indian delegates are saying various things to the media. But our President has not made any commitment”[v].

Will the new Indian Foreign Minister find herself bogged down in the same mire of lies and deception as her predecessors? Take, for instance, the discomposing fate of SM Krishna, India’s foreign minister from 2009 to 2012. He discussed devolution with President Rajapaksa on January 17th 2012, and told a packed media-conference, ‘I discussed this matter [political solution for Tamils] with His Excellency the President this morning. The President assured me that he stands by his commitment to pursuing the 13th Amendment plus approach.”[vi]

Less than a fortnight later, President Rajapaksa denied it all: “Oh, No! How can I make promises like that? I have referred the issue to Parliament”[vii].

Mr. Modi and Ms. Swaraj are no pushovers. But, currently, Sri Lanka is not high up on their agenda. Mr Modi has innumerable national promises to fulfil and the multiple sub-continental crises are likely to occupy Ms. Swaraj’s immediate attention.

The Rajapaksas know that Indian pressure ebbs and flows. That was the way it was with the Congress. Will it be the same with the BJP? If not, the Rajapaksas will be willing to walk a few extra miles, to buy time on the devolution front.

Conceding on Sampur (or pretending to) has already begun: “A statement from the President’s Office said that Rajapaksa had directed the Attorney General and the Secretary to the Ministry of Power and Energy to expedite the project.”[viii] Buy influential friends in Delhi (with links to Mr. Modhi) via substantial economic concessions (tax breaks to sweetheart land deals). Be flexible on the fishermen’s issue, up to a deal with Delhi – which will boost PM Modhi’s image in Tamilnadu and render Chief Minister Jayalalitha a little irrelevant.

Anything but devolution.

The Rajapaksas have an unrivalled capacity to ‘to recount many falsehoods like the real thing’[ix]. Sooner or later, they will use their ‘hardline’ acolytes to unleash a cacophonous ‘national’ campaign against devolution. We might be treated to such riveting spectacles as Wimal Weerawansa fasting unto death, again, Champika Ranawaka threatening to resign or BBS/Ravana Balaya monks planning to immolate themselves….

If the Rajapaksas are unable to do to Modi-India what they did to Congress-India it will be because of the Chinese factor.

Unaffordable Devolution

The Rajapaksas want to keep all power in Rajapaksa hands. Devolution therefore is our. Sinhala supremacism is the politico-ideological plinth on which the Siblings have mounted their anti-devolution policy.

Familial politics are reinforced by familial economics. Selling/leasing land (preferably to foreigners) is a favourite Rajapaksa money-making method. If the 13th Amendment is implemented in full (let alone 13+), Rajapaksa-capacity to flog Lankan lands to any moneyed foreigner will be affected.

Plus the Siblings regard countervailing sources of democratic power as either obstacles to be overcome or threats to be defeated. Thus the fate of the Judiciary and the 17th Amendment, neither of which had anything to do with devolution, Tamils or minority rights. Because, as Basil Rajapaksa explained, “In other countries who are successful, they were successful because immediately one person he takes the decisions. In Sri Lanka, the main problem is that that is not there, more decisions have to be centralized”[x].

The Siblings labour hard to maintain the myth of an anti-devolution South. The Rajapaksas need the image of Sinhalese foaming-at-the mouth against devolution as an excuse to delay a political solution indefinitely. The anti-Accord riots were not spontaneous; they were engineered by the JVP and the SLFP, as Mahinda Rajapaksa, a leading incendiary, would well know. President Rajapaksa used his Sinhala-hardline acolytes to discredit the Majority Report of the APRC Expert Panel and to negate the APRC recommendations. A new APC will meet the same fate.

The UNP has very wisely offered to support any devolutionary measure to solve the ethnic problem[xi]. Will the Rajapaksas use their green-pawns to create faux ho-ha in the UNP, opposing more devolution in the name of ‘patriotism’?

JN Dixit once categorised the Thimpu talks as ‘a dialogue of the deaf’[xii].

In her statement, Sujatha Singh expressed India’s commitment to a ‘united’ Sri Lanka. This indicates the minimum and maximum limits of the devolutionary scale acceptable to any India. The Rajapaksas want no devolution. If the TNA leaders also place their demands outside this ‘Indian scale’, they will be seen by Delhi as part of the problem and not as part of the solution. Plus they will be giving the Rajapaksas an excellent card to subvert a political solution and maintain status quo.

The Rajapaksas’ addictive dependence on China means that someday Modi-India will have to focus on Sri Lanka. If democratic Tamils succumb to the malaise of maximalism, they may miss that historic opportunity. The path to a just and equitable peace will close.

And the Rajapaksas will win.



[i] http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/Modi-Takes-Up-13A-TN-Fishermen-Issue/2014/05/28/article2249558.ece

[ii]http://www.priu.gov.lk/news_update/Current_Affairs/ca201405/

20140527president_rajapaksa_pm_modi_meet_new_delhi.htm

[iii] Ibid

[iv] PTI – 21.4..2012

[v] Ceylon Today – 27.4.2012

[vi] Hindu – 1.2.2012

[vii] The Island – 30.1.2012

[viii] http://m.newindianexpress.com/top-news/316160

[ix] Theogony – Hesiod

[x] Sydney Morning Herald – 19.11.2012

[xi] http://colombogazette.com/2014/05/28/unp-offers-support-for-devolution/

[xii] Assignment Colombo

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Latest comments

  • 3
    5

    Excellent analysis as usual Tissaranee.

    Mahinda has achieved what Vellupillai could not. Sri Lankan Tamil polity is now India dependent. It was never like this before.

    Mahinda will have to choose between being and Indian Vassal or a Chinese Vassal. He will choose what will help him retain what he has and be happy to enslave the Sinhalese to either. Who ever will let him maintain his hold. The Chinese have better practice on this in Africa. But then India may be on the lookout for a podian to bash.

    • 6
      4

      No doubt at all you re the queen to express our strong voice against common enemy – Rajapakshe oligarch. May all gods be powered your strengths to be even more articulated and owing man to be marginalized from our sights atleast in coming months.

    • 3
      2

      So, will Rajapakse live forever? Is he immortal? When He dies????? Is the question. Let’s wait and see for how long he dance….

      • 4
        2

        bizi,
        Imagine MR dies and Ranil comes into power. Now, who are you going to blame for those “discrimination”,”human right violations”, “genocide” etc. etc.? Do you think Ranil will implement the 13th?

        • 2
          1

          All what is being said and done about Ranil W are for the political survial of MR.At least today media should play a patriotic role to transmogrify all myths. The day people will get this – he is the great leaders- the last of troica – born to lead this nation. Give us good kind of provable examples where RW has brutalized the nation.
          I am into investigate all the assets collected by Raja oligarchs during the last 9 years – I bet CBK has not abused people´s funds as that [Edited out] Victor Iwan drew helping MR to become the leader of the nation. Very same [Edited out] journalist to stay dead silence at today´s context is far from undrestanding. Latter is responded with the very same way as to why Vasu and other senior politicians further back highly corrupted MR regime. Not anythign those men are interested in PERKs only:: THEIR GENETICS are made to behave so.

  • 8
    9

    Hello there whats your name,

    The way universe works is when one challenges someone but loses the fight, you walk away keeping your dignity isnt it?

    Why are these Tamils coming back asking for devolution after trying to create a separate state? Imagine the other way around if Prabarakan won? Do you think TNA Sambandan will volunteer to give devolution?

    The tipping point was Tamil instigated “Final war”. After that there is no 13th amendment and no devolution. Ask your TNA buddies to grow some principles please.

    • 2
      7

      The LTTE was used as a horse by the Tamils to ride to a certain destination. If that horse is killed, then the Tamils will mount another horse and keep riding and continue the journey. They will not throw up their hands in despair and give up their quest for equality and justice like some people are hoping they will do!

      • 8
        4

        Ramasamy:

        I agree with the gist of your argument but the word you are looking for is LTTE is a means to an end. The end is to live in PEACE, SECURITY and above all with DIGNITY which is a God given right.

      • 4
        4

        Ramasamy,
        Are you one of those missing ex-LTTE terrorist?

      • 0
        0

        Rama,
        The reason why you lost was because you used horses/donkeys where as SL government used modern MIG fighter Jets.

    • 5
      5

      Vibushna You Sinkalam:

      I will tell you why the Tamils are asking for Devolution. First of all ask Modi why he is insisting on that and that is because he is in the same mould as Ghandi who you lot independence and secondly we are not the same people and nothing in common to share lives together. We speak a superior language and have a richer culture compared to your barbaric culture. Bloody butchers.

      • 2
        1

        “We speak a superior language and have a richer culture compared to your barbaric culture. Bloody butchers.”

        “Richer culture” you say? What are you referring to: Cousin marriage? Caste system? Give us an example on how your Tamil culture is richer than that of the Sinhalese?

  • 6
    6

    It takes two to tango. The former Indian Govt and Congress Leaders and foreign ministers were all playing a double game via press release etc to fool the Tamils, IC and Sri Lankans.

    Whether Modi will Tango with Mahinda is yet to be seen.

  • 5
    5

    ‘An election is coming. Universal peace is declared, and the foxes have a sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry’ – George Eliot, (Felix Holt)

    What TG is really saying is that MR is a superb politician. For once I agree with her.

    • 5
      5

      Paul:

      He is a superb politician only in the eyes of 20 Million Racists and those he cares to bribe. In the eyes of the rest he is a

      Thug
      Criminal
      Looter
      Briber
      Liar

      • 0
        2

        kalistani

        Countdown 79 days to go.

        Have you already given up on Amma’s Tamil National Army?

        • 1
          0

          Foreign:

          Sinkala Thivinukor Palam amaipom for the TNA to arrive. Seduvai Meduruthi Veethi Samaipom for the new arrival to cross.

      • 0
        1

        Kali, that is rich coming from a racist Tamil-only TamilEelam. You describe VP’s qualities very well. Unfortunately for you MR was the better politician.

        • 1
          0

          Paul:

          Don’t get worked up man you English. Sadly the 20 million racist agree with what you have uttered but not the World including your ancestors ( Joke). You are not English. You are another Thug from Hambanthotta.

  • 1
    3

    Any willy Politician can keep cheating – its citizen, the I/C etc -say
    5 years on something will show. The expeditious work on Sampur is either
    a sign of confusion or a hidden agenda.

    The more GoSL delays Devolution, the stronger turn it will take, as we
    are in a 21st century democracy.India does not need a head-ache from
    TN or SL.

  • 6
    5

    TG:

    I have not read the whole of your article but the Heading speaks Volumes. I agree that MR will not devolve power as he has dragged this for over 5 years. It is not in his nature and not only that it will interfere with his Agenda of Ethnic Cleansing and Colonisation.
    Now Modi has a point to prove to Jeyalalitha. We have known MR to be a Master of Deception and a Liar but now it is Modis turn to find out having invited him an stood with him . Up to now MR has got away by bribing his way through and we will see whether or not Modi is Mr.Clean.

    We are in for a treat.

    MR was given a 20 minute slot and told in no uncertain terms to Implement 13th Amendment and go beyond and to come up with an answer to what happened to the missing persons expeditiously . MR is now stuck between Strong Man Modi and 20 million Racist who would ditch him if he devolves power and that is when TNA will arrive in the Country. Please share it with Foreign Vedda who I suspect is Half Tamil because he sings “Sinthu Nathiyin Misai Nilavinile” very well.

    It follows Sinkala Thivinukor Palam Amaipom Sethuvai Meduruthi Veethi Samaipom”

  • 5
    3

    “thisaranee”,
    Don’t lose sleep over 13th amendment. That is not going to happen with MR or any other future President. People of Sri Lanka has to give their consent to implement that, which was set up during the LTTE terror reign. A referendum is due before any more discussion.

    This is my advice to the Tamils. Be Sri Lankans not Tamils. Get rid of this fake “discrimination” and “dignity” talk. For god’s sake more Sinhalese are “discriminated” and treated without “dignity” by other Sinhalese than Tamils. Learn Sinhalese compete with the Sinhalese and be progressive like the wealthy Tamil professionals and businessmen in the south. Did the Tamil diaspora refuse to learn English/Italian/French in their new countries?

    • 4
      0

      As far as my knowledge is concerned, no tamil asylum seekers live on Italy. As it is the case with turks living for decades long in Germany but being unable to speak German, tamils being unable to speak sinhala is not due to their failure but a result due to the ignorance of country´s politicians. German govt invest more in that areas today than in the past. Srilanken govt is said to be doing lot more to give priorities to the langague laerning atleast from recent past. Anyway, focusing on india where over 26 or more langagues are spoken, their common langauge has been English. So I hope at least Enlish would be made compulsory to both sinhalese and tamils in the country today. All these they should have introduced long back to the prevailing systems. I have no idea about the percentages, but I am informed now even sinhalese teachers should learn tamil langauge at least some parts of the country. Anywayy, even if the many would disgree with the facts, srilanka is still very poor country – those some call it to a middle income nation – only for their gains.

    • 1
      1

      More than half of the Tamils chose to live amongst the Sinhala I am sure this is NOT in spite of discrimination against them by the latter.

      Those who have sought asylum in Norway, even had to learn the foreign language(s) and accept the indignity of having their children taken into care because of ‘cultural’ differences.

    • 1
      3

      Eusense or eunuch!?

      Don’t write choka baila here! It is you and Rajapakshas who have lost sleep over 13A! There is no as your stupid harangue says a question of people’s consent-it is already law and in the constitution. The only question is whether it is adequate to solve the problems or create unforeseen troubles. Whatever the case is, 13A or another set of proposals that are capable of solving the minority grievances as well as dispelling the doubts of Sinhalese will have to be devised and implemented. It is as sure as sun rise that RW if takes over the rule will do this because without solving this issue there is no hope or future for this country. It is these SLFP, Monks and the Leftist caristers led by the SWRDB fucker who prevented it happening and led the entire country in the garden path for decades during which period it has been more than enough proved that sans a solution to this ethnic problem SL would perpetually be at war both locally and internationally-the uneducated Rajapakshas have been under siege by the diaspora, all the powerful countries in the world, all rights bodies in the world, UN, Tamil Nadu and India and from the internal intellectuals-and all this is due to what? It is not even JR but RW who for the first time in the history tried to solve the problem forever by starting peace negotiations and peace building ultimately leading to a bipartisan consensus blessed and aided by the international community. And it was not a solution to be created in the skies devoid of any mutual benefits and supportive kinetics but shrewdly intertwined with Regaining Sri Lanka master development plan of the whole of Sri Lanka fruits of which would flow to each and every citizen of the country, unlike the barren and looking down the barrel Mahinda Chanthanaya-what the fuck is that really in retrospect since the fucker took over giving the lie to all the bulls?

    • 1
      3

      “…Did the Tamil diaspora refuse to learn English/Italian/French in their new countries?”

      Eusense, You are right.

      Give these Tamil fellows Eelam and make Sri Lanka a new country for them. I am sure they will learn Sinhalese as you advise;

      and if they do too well, we can always standardise – ask them to get more marks than our boys.

      • 3
        0

        Ripvan,
        You got the idea, competition is the name of the game! But you don’t need to standardize because last time it was done, boys and girls from Colombo, Kandy and Galle were affected more than any other region.
        Anyway, you are a genius!. Why didn’t I come up with the idea of making a new country to make a bunch of Tamils learn Sinhalese???

    • 1
      2

      Eusense,
      *) Do you know why Lanka Muslims use Tamil as their home language but not Sinhalese?
      *) You said Sinhalese were treated without dignity by Sinhalese. So these Sinhalese tolerate it and live without dignity. How and why do you expect Tamil do the same and accept to live without dignity? You may have some say or responsibility of accepting live without dignity as Sinhalese.. But you don’t have rights to force SL minority Tamil tribe to live without dignity…Do you?

      • 2
        0

        avb,
        I don’t know why “Lanka Muslims use Tamil as their home language but not Sinhalese”. Can you enlighten me on that?

        When you lose your pride and honor you lose your dignity. One need to EARN dignity by personal or social behavior or activities. For an example if you practice terrorism, suicide bombing etc. you will harm your dignity. Nobody can just hand over dignity to you (though in the modern days you may be able to buy it with money).
        If there are Sinhalese living without dignity that means they haven’t lived up to the accepted level of the society. If they don’t attempt to improve themselves they wont gain dignity. That means they will have to live without dignity. The same apply to Tamils too!
        I don’t expect or force Tamils or anybody else to live without dignity. From where did you get that idea?

      • 0
        3

        I have the feeling EUSENCE OR EUNACH as the nation^s cespit declared it above – is born yesterday that is the reason why he seems to be so naive raising whatever the quetion in terms of the all discriminations seen in the country.

        • 1
          0

          leelawa,
          You just lost your dignity!

  • 3
    0

    .
    Indian PM’s and politicians come and go every 5 years….. Chinese rulers are there forever.
    MaRa can play with, buy time and fool Indians, but not Chinese.

    :-)

  • 0
    1

    ““History, despite its wrenching pain,

    Cannot be unlived, but if faced

    With courage, need not be lived again.”

    Maya Angelou (On the Pulse of Morning)

    The Rajapaksas will not devolve power; not unless they are pushed to the wall, and left with no way out, not even a peephole.

    Only an external power can generate such an irresistible force.

    Will Modi-India be that power?

    Over the years, the Rajapaksas had mastered the art of ‘Hoodwinking Delhi with a Sincere Face’. They developed a Dodgy Dance, made up of promises, pronouncements, evasions and denials, which enabled them to make slipperiness look like flexibility.

    The Dodgy Dance worked to perfection with Congress-India. Will it work equally well with Narendra Modi’s India?

    Mahinda ModiAccording to Indian Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh, devolution figured in the discussions between PM Modi and President Rajapaksa: “Early and full implementation of the 13th Amendment and going well beyond”[i].

    Colombo made no open denial. Instead its official statement emphasised that President Rajapaksa and PM Modi discussed reconciliation, fishermen and Sampur; any mention of devolution (13 or 13+) was conspicuous by its absence.[ii]

    The Dodgy Dance has already begun.

    The discrepancy between the two public stances did not go unnoticed by Indian media: “Interestingly while foreign secretary said that the 13th Amendment issue had been discussed ‘at some length’ there was no mention of this in the press release from the office of Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa”[iii].

    One of these weeks Sushma Swaraj will be winging her way to Colombo. Will the new External Affairs Minister feel a sense of déjà vu, as she listens to President Rajapaksa’s straight-faced and sincere assurances of unwavering commitment to 13+? Will she remember how she was treated to a blinding dose of Rajapaksa Maya, when she led a parliamentary delegation here, in her capacity as India’s Opposition Leader? …”

    Just look at the above gems and gold TG has correlated and produced! If you are sensitive and intelligent to their wonder of power and intellectual appeal, they could replace nukes as weapons against Rajapakshas. And had they been stringed in poems to describe such wonders of the world as girls, pearls and wonders of nature they would compete the best ever in the world! She adds feminine grace and elegance to bury-Rajapaksha revolution with surgical precision and sniper-targeting!

  • 0
    3

    Eusesense, the only Tamils richer than the ones in the South are the ones in the Diaspora (their millions and billions are in GBP, EUR and USD – worth a lot eh). That is why the Tamils in Sri Lanka want independence – so they can be as rich as the Diaspora not the Tamils in the South who can only be as rich as others in third world Sri Lanka. Obviously, your political points are complete nonsense which I won’t even bother to address.

    • 3
      0

      Alex F,
      You seem to be a confused fellow! Isn’t it the best option for the SL Tamils to move to where the diaspora are so that they too can make GBP, EUR, USD etc. etc.(worth a lot eh?). Or do you want them to have independence and be a third world state similar to Tamil Nadu?
      By the way, which of my political points do you have no answers for?

  • 1
    0

    Tisaranee,

    First I like your collection of Photos of President Rajapakse. This latest one say it all. Do you see the eyes and the smile. They say a lot.But I saw another photo where Mody looks more serious that showed he ment Business, and MR looks more of a defeated hen.

    Anyway Modi inaguration ceremony was one of the simplest and down to earth ceremonies I have ever seen. It was so simple, less extravagent and less expensive than most of the ones held under Rajapakses, which are more of a show off “pus vedilla” glamour with fake and empty show off drama.

    No absolutely not playing pandu with Modi. With over 1,700 Indian peace keepers sacrificing their lives and constant protests by Jayalalitha, Viko,Indian Tamils all over the world, Modi will take the needful action at the correct time. Lemon puff and king coconut water will not work this time.

    Take my word today. 13th Amendment will be implemented in Sri Lanka within the next six months. Modi plans to visit Sri Lanka between August/ September this year, and he wants to see results.

    MR could go for a Presidential elections early next year to save his face, but he will defenitely go for devolution of powers to the North and East. MR is getting weak politically by the day and his tricks are been exhausted. He is more worried of UNHRC War crime investigations and charges than autonomy to the North and East.

    Also MR is between BBS Sinhala Buddhist extremists and both International community and peace seeking local community which finally could lead to another 1983 like Progrom.

    Anything is possible in coming months. But 13th Amendment…yes it will happen, and the Executive Presidency will be abolished.

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