By Rajeewa Jayaweera –
The speech by Leader of Opposition and leader of Tamil National Alliance (TNA), Hon. Rajavarothiam Sampanthan (RS) in Parliament on February 19, contains assertions lacking in conviction and credibility.
There are those who believes, he and his TNA group to be moderates. Hence the need for his recent lament to be taken seriously given the fact, electoral gains by the more radical TPNF, EPRLF and Wigneswaran combine, in the last LG elections was at the expense of the TNA vote base.
Summarizing percentages of total votes received by respective political parties in recent LG polls, RS opines 44.69% polled by SLPP amounts to almost 2% less than 45.99% secured by UPFA/UNP combine. He further claims, 55.31% voted against SLPP if votes received by JVP (6.26%) and TNA (3.06%) was included. It is indeed a strange theory. It would have been acceptable had all these parties campaigned on a common agenda, a symbol and as an alliance. Let alone a UPFA/UNF alliance, even the UPFA, and SLFP could not contest under one banner in some councils. In such a backdrop, a comparison of 44.69% of SLPP as against 55.31% of others has no merit what so ever.
RS has deceitfully left out the fact, a larger number of Tamils in the North collectively voted against TNA. For example, only 35% in the Jaffna District voted for TNA whilst 65% voted against. It was no different in Killlinochchi and Mullaitivu where 53% and 58% voted against TNA respectively.
As matters stand, SLPP has emerged as the party with the single highest vote block in the LG elections, for whatever the reasons. To quote Sampanthan’s own words, “The people have delivered a verdict, and, in a democracy, the people’s verdict must be respected.”
RS then claimed, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa (MR) failed to obtain 50% of the vote in the 2015 Presidential, 2015 Parliamentary 2018 LG elections. He needs to explain his reasons for the comparison of a Presidential election which is necessarily a two-horse race with Parliamentary and LG elections held on party lines involving hundreds if not thousands of candidates. RS has suffered a memory lapse in that, MR did secure 50.2% in the 2005 Presidential election when he and his party, as proxies of Velupillai Prabhakaran, advised the Tamil population in the North to vote for Prabhakaran’s preferred candidate MR. Rajapaksa also secured 57.9% in the 2010 Presidential election. The drop to 47.6% of the popular vote in the 2015 Presidential election was the price he paid for his regime’s rampant corruption, disregard for law & order, cronyism, nepotism, and family bandysm.
Sampanthan’s was a desperate call for the rejection of Rajapaksa’s message supposedly stated during election rallies, of the possibility of Tamil Eelam blooming after LG elections due to the framing of a new Constitution.
He then laboriously explained the various offers made by Sri Lankan leaders to resolve the national question since the enactment of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1987/88. He referred to President Premadasa’s Mangala Moonasinghe Select Committee proposals followed by President Kumaratunga’s (CBK) Constitutional Proposals in 2000 and finally MR’s offer of “maximum possible devolution” during the inaugural meeting of the All Party Representatives Committee (APRC), and Experts Committee reports besides the Tissa Vitharana Committee report. He also referred to the transformation of the current parliament to a Constitutional Assembly to frame a new Constitution which included those of the Joint Opposition who did not object at the time.
During the speech, he freely admitted, proposals of all former Presidents went beyond the Thirteenth Amendment.
It must be borne in mind, RS and his TNA followers remained loyal to Prabhakaran’s terrorist agenda till the final hour, unlike the likes of Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan aka Col. Karuna Amman who renounced terrorism several years before the defeat of LTTE and TULF leader V Anandasangree who has consistently rejected terrorism.
Soon after the formation of Tamil National Alliance (TNA) led by RS in 2001, he declared LTTE as the sole representative of Sri Lankan Tamils and in fact, became Prabhakaran’s mouthpiece inside the Parliament of Sri Lanka.
TNA actively encouraged Tamils in the North to vote for Presidential candidate Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2005 thus paving the way for the result desired by Prabhakaran. MR ascended to the presidency with a slim majority of 180,786 votes.
Today is not about the lotus bud, MR and his attempts to stir up the Eelam boogey. It is about Sampanthan, his Eelam bud and the periodic outbursts of “a political solution within the framework of an undivided indivisible, single country,” the top hit in the TNA pop chart after May 19, 2009.
Since 2009, RS and the TNA have been obsequiously groveling before visiting foreign leaders and seeking their intervention, often huddled inside foreign embassies, unworthy of his position as Leader of Opposition.
However, they did not even once seek the assistance of foreign leaders or governments to convince Prabhakaran to accept peace offers from different Sri Lankan Heads of State.
What did RS and others in TNA do about CBK’s offer to hand over the North and East to LTTE Supremo Prabhakaran for ten years without the need for any elections and of MR’s offer which in his own words, “went beyond the Thirteenth Amendment?” Why were they not accepted, and the death and destruction taking place brought to an end?
What were the efforts made by these Tamil leaders to save nearly 300,000 Tamil civilian human shields held hostage by LTTE during the tail end of the conflict, and were finally rescued by the Sri Lankan armed forces?
Finally, did RS, who was an MP continuously since 2001 even once make a declaration in Parliament calling for “a political solution within the framework of an undivided indivisible, single country” before May 19, 2009, the day Eelam bud was ‘nipped in the bud’ (pun intended).? If not, why not?
Can we have some answers?