25 October, 2020

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TNA vs LTTE – The Northern Provincial Council Stakes

By Harim Peiris

Harim Peiris

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has been publicly reiterating and recommitting himself to finally holding the long delayed and often postponed Northern Provincial Council (NPC) elections in September this year, almost four and half years after the war ended in May 2009. Thereafter despite presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections, in 2010 and 2011, various excuses were contrived and trotted out to postpone the holding of the Northern Provincial Council elections, an election the regime is almost guaranteed to lose to the TNA, if even a semblance of a reasonably fair and free election is held.

That President Rajapaksa personally and his political grouping the UPFA have no political traction with the Tamil people has been repeatedly borne out by the three post war election results and the NPC election would be no different. However, the Rajapaksa regime, never one to shy away from a political fight, is gearing up to fight the election tooth and nail, fair or foul, in the same way it fought the Colombo Municipal Council election, another election it was guaranteed to lose, despite the best efforts of the urbane Milinda Moragoda, the multi ethnic cosmopolitan people of the City of Colombo showing very little affinity or attraction to the regime’s ethno nationalism centered populism.

However, the presidentially declared NPC election raises some important political issues, which require some examination.

LTTE spokesman as UPFA chief candidate

Firstly, according to news reports and political insiders the UPFA is gearing to have its slate of Tamil candidates in the North led by senior LTTE cadre and spokesman Daya Master as its chief minister candidate. Daya Master was to the LTTE, before its demise, what Kheliya Rambukwella is to the UPFA. That the Rajapaksa regime should base its outreach strategy towards the Tamil people by bringing into its ranks the senior LTTE cadres in its captivity denotes besides the absence of a political message of substance to the Tamil electorate, that it also accepts that the LTTE was popular with the Tamil people, otherwise why run its leaders as government candidates? If the LTTE resonated with the Tamil people, we have a political problem, which requires a solution, a proposal for which seems to elude the regime.

By contrast, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which government spokesmen and their allied media like to constantly keep calling LTTE proxies, have since the end of the war distanced themselves from the LTTE in serious and practical ways. Firstly the TNA does not in its democratic politics accommodate any former LTTE leaders (in sharp contrast to the government) and its leader R. Sambanthan has repeatedly stated, for those honest enough to listen, their commitment to finding a political solution to the grievances of the Tamil people within a united Sri Lanka. The democratically elected TNA political leadership, as opposed to the self-appointed Diaspora types, post war quickly and mercifully realized that the politics of separatism of the LTTE could not be pursued without the armed capability and the terrorism of the LTTE. Post war, the old, traditional, upper caste Tamil political leaders of the ITAK also quickly realized that they were no longer under the gun of the LTTE and that Sambanthan and MA Sumanthiran need not fear suffering the same fate of Appapilai Amirathalingam, Neelan Tiruchelvam or Sam Thambimuthu, among a host of other Tamil political leaders.

Vigneswaran as potential TNA CM nominee

In an election the TNA is almost sure to win, in anything short of an electoral sham, the TNA’s choice of seeking to bring in Justice (Rtd) C. V. Wigneswaran as the chief minister for the North is a very astute move on the part of the Tamil political leadership. Firstly, bringing in Justice Wigneswaran as Chief Minister is a continuation of the TNA practice of inducting genuine Tamil community leaders not associated with any militant past into its post war political leadership, as was done in bringing in human rights defender and leading lawyer Sumanthiran as national list MP shortly after the end of the war. Now with the TNA having stayed the course of seeking post war reconciliation through a political solution, it seeks to bring to the leadership of the Tamil community, a most distinguished jurist, with impeccable personal and professional integrity. Though the good judge has not yet formally consented, the contrast with Daya Master cannot be greater. Perhaps the argument to make to the judge, is that it is better to light a candle or in the case of the Northern chief ministership, a flaming torch, than curse the darkness.

Muslims of the North

The Rajapaksa regime has a problem with the Muslim polity. The extreme Sinhala Buddhist nationalist elements that are totally at home in the government and the extremist organizations, which with state patronage have been happily attacking mosques, Muslim businesses and even Muslim women on the streets in their religious attire and this has made Muslim political leaders within UPFA ranks unhappy. Every Muslim political leader is in government with none in the opposition. Despite this the Muslim community is under serious assault. From Rauff Hakeem to Rishard Bathurdeen and counting others such as Athahulla and Hizbulla, the entire Muslim political leadership is in the UPFA, but now, rather quite unhappily so. This should present a golden opportunity for the opposition both the UNP and especially the TNA to woo Muslim support. The UNP just does not seem to have the energy or imagination for any such move, while the TNA seems unwilling to take on the more extreme nationalist elements within the Tamil community, in not promoting justice and reconciliation with the Muslim community, especially in the coastal areas of the Vanni and in the Mannar District. In a situation where the Government is trying to divide and rule in the North, the TNA should have the political sagacity to solve through direct dialogue with the Muslim leadership, the vexed issue of land problems in Mannar, mainly brought about by LTTE period settlement of Tamil people on traditional Muslim lands.

The Northern Provincial Council elections are overdue and an important step in restoring and reestablishing democratic governance in the former conflict areas. It is in the interest of the Sri Lankan State and post war normalization that democratic elections to the provincial assembly in the North be held and a democratically elected provincial administration established.

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Latest comments

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    An article written with good insight, a realistic understanding of the Northern situation and with intellectual honesty. Thanks.

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    Lets hope the TNA will be able to convince Rtd Judge Wigneswaran to contest the Chief Ministership of the Northern Provice.He will certainly win and is no match for a scoundrel like Daya Master if there is a fair and proper election.

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    Much is hoped from this election which can also result in the loosening of the military stranglehold in the North. Let us hope that it is free and fair so that no one can be accused of undermining the sovereignity of the people.

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    Dear Mr.Harim Peris,
    I accept with your genuine opinion.Regarding Muslim resettlement ,no tamil politicians will go against it but only resisting settling new persons from other districts by misusing the power .when there are 11,000
    of local families stranded without lands and houses giving several acreage of newly cleared lands to outsiders make local people anxious.is
    But to be neutral this informations must be scrutinized by a neutral body.

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    Why would Sambandan need periya LTTE when he lent his TNA sujects to Prabakaran to form the LTTE Home Guard Battalions ?.

    Besides wasn’t Sambandan and his troopers were hand picked by the late Supremo to sent to the Parliament ?.

    Don’t some inhabitants say Sambandan was the Godfather?.

    Is this Keheliya Rambukwella of the TNA?.

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    The government is persisting on making the same mistake it did soon after decimating the LTTE in May’2009. It has failed in its attempt to tailor a Tamil leadership to its measures and cast it in a mould convenient to it. The result is that old divisive politics has been brought back to reign supreme. Corruption and political violence have become identified in the Tamil mind as an important facet of UPFA politics!

    The perverse decision banning the singing the national anthem in Tamil was another expression of this stupidity.

    The confusion that has been created on the land issue is another dimension of this stupidity. The issue has been unnecessarily politicized and made the hunting ground for politicians, while the war-affected continue to be victims yet of LTTE highhandedness and the subsequent identification of all Tamils as Tiger supporters by the government.

    The government is assuming the noise of sections of the Tamil Diaspora, in favour of ‘Neo-Tigerism’, is that of most Tamils here in Sri Lanka. The government is apparently deaf and blind to ground realities of a subtle nature. Most Tamils here curse the LTTE day in and day out for having brought them to their present state. To induct ex-LTTE persons as UPFA candidates is another extension of the stupidity of this government. The Tamil people are not under the illusion that there are grass-eating Tigers!

    The extreme paranoia relating to security concerns is another dimension of this stupidity. Four years after the war, security concerns must be addressed through greater subtlety, sophisticated intelligence gathering and emphasis on winning the hearts and minds of the Tamils. The gross expressions of security concerns should be wound down and replaced by the above approach fast.

    A clear line must be drawn between the Tigers and the majority of the Tamils living here. The government cannot continue to hunt Tigers, while seen running with the Tigers and their likes. There are instances where one is wont to wander as to who is using whom!

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

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    Mr. Pieris, your credentials for this article would be – Adviser to Mrs Kumaratunge?

  • 0
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    The facial resemblance between Harim Peiris and Namal Rajapaksa is striking. A slight cock-up in the photo library methinks ;-)

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    A good analysis. I hope the decision makers will consider the points made by you and nominate decent people who command the respect of the population to contest this election.

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    Is daya master the best that the UPFA can do.Quite pathetic.I thought KP would be a better choice.I don’t think anyone has any regard for daya master who was just a spokesman for the LTTE.In other words someone in the LTTE now dead and gone leadership would have told him what he has to say and he will say it repeating like a parrot.He is no leader.Better if Gota first send him on that leadership couse.At the rate people are taking that course it will be a poblem one day because Srilanka will have so many leaders and no followers,so when one leader tells another to follow him,that fellow won’t because he will say he has also followed Gota’s leadership course.Even Douglas would be better than daya master because though he has faults nobody can say he is not a leader.However if Wigneswaran is contesting there should be a quality candidate educated to his stature to counter him.For the rajapakshes to find a candidate like that will be akin to looking for a needle in a haystack.

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    Shankar says Daya Master is no match for Vellala Vigneswaran.

    VV was drinking wine and enjoying fine cuisine while Daya was dodging bullets and trying to save his life.

    He done more service to the LTTE leader than he is given credt for.

    His translations must have been top notch for the Foreign Ministers from Foreign lands to bend down to Praba and please him which ever way he wanted.

    Daya, KP and Mrs Chelvam could have opted for atleast a little bit of Vellala life in Colombo if they wanted to.

    But they decided to live among the captives and share their pain ,

    The trio wanted to help them as much as they can, while Vellalals were engaged in fine dining and drinking wine.

    Now they are on excursions to captives land to convince them that Eelaam is better than Prabakaran.

    It will be interesting when Vellas are piched against non Vellalas at election rallies.

    Surely non Vellalas like Day Master must have better chemistry with his fellowcaptives than the wine drinking Vellalas..

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      Adoi sumana modaya,
      Rajahpakse thugs never going to win any election in north, if its cotucted by fair.and free.

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      Sumanasekera,you are a caste conscious fellow.You must be not govi,so you are suffering with a chip on your shoulder,am I right?Don’t have this inferiority complex,just erase your caste from your mind completely,then you will find that nobody cares for it anymore.

      As for your contention that daya master will beat vigneswaran,why don’t you wait for the result patiently,then go and have a think about what i said at this time.KP will give a better fight to vigneswaran,but he will also lose because of the way te government has behaved.Authoritarian stle is not conducive to winning the hearts and minds of people.It is more suitable for dictatorships and winning through rigged elections.

      You say daya master was dodging bullets.Is it in the bunkers he was in 24/7.Some say he was a traitor who saved his arse by giving information about the leaders whereabout etc.I don’t know really so i will give him the benefit of the doubht,but certainly it is very suspicious as to why he has been given special treatment by gota.

      daya masters contribution to the LTTE was nil.If as you say foreign governments kowtowed to prabha at one time,it was not due to daya master but due to the fact that they thought they needed prabha to come to the peace talks.Once they knew that he was just using the peace talks for his own ends they lost interest in him.

      You seem to hate the vellalas.That is because you are a karawe and now you are singing the praises of your cousins the karayar.Both the karawe and karayar are the ones who started the insurrections and that gives rise to the belief that this may have not been a ethnic war at all but a simple power struggle by a once powerful and favoured caste under the portuguese which lost that status under the british who favoured the govi and vellala,and this karawe/karayar caste simply could not make it under the ballot due to their inferior numbers.

      YOU can write and write praising the rajapakshe’s mate,but they will always trust a karawe like you as much as they will trust a rattlesnake.Sort out your problems with the govi before venturing to soothe the feelings of your long lost relatives the karayar.However much you use your brain and cunningness to inveigle into the houses of the govi they won’t even let a cat from your house into theirs.

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        Shankar says Daya Master is a traitoor, because he was hiding in the Bunker 24/7.

        Being the tranlator or interpretor, DM had to be with his Boss,all the time to keep the lines open to Stokholm , London and Ottawa.

        So both must be Traitors , Right?.

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          Sumane,read it again mate.I said that he is considered a traitor because of the special treatment given to him by Gota and also there were rumours circulating that he was a mole in the LTTE giving vital information and then crossed over before the war ended.I also mentioned that personally I would give him the benefit of the doubt because the word traitor has been bandied about so often that now it has lost its credibility.Practically everyone who supports the government is labelled a traitor.

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            Sumanasekera is none other than Leela who writes under a different name

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    Dear Shankar,

    It is an honour to put me in Karayar caste because it is a good upgrading.

    I would have preferred if you put me in the thoroughbred Caste at least temporarily ,which most of our rulers came from, until the current one.

    You guys evidently didn’t have such a class as I understand and the Vellalas was “it”.

    Caste in the South has been demolished totally now thanks to the current incumbent.

    Bandaranayakas , however must be given credit for opening up the Education to the rural poor, who make up the great majority of the population and paving the way for the so called lesser caste folks to get ahead.

    Three hundred Thousan plus ex captives are surely not Vellalas except the few moneyed ones in Jaffna and its suburbs.

    TNA Vellalas who lived in comfy suburbs all along now make visits on the weekends to liberate them.

    Surely there must be people who are aware that these liberators didn’t do much when they were in dire strait.

    Unlike in the South non Vellalas in poor rural areas were denied any chances of a decent education let alone getting into the Colombo political landscape.

    Now is the opportunity for them to get the things moving and give Karayars and the rest a “go” to join the Vellala A List.

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      Dear Sumane,If you are not karawe,you must be salagama or durawe,certainly not Govigama because you are very caste conscious and suffering with a chip on your shoulder.It is a disease in you and best you cleanse it and get cured,because if you don’t believe in caste then you don’t need to worry about others who do.If they have the disease that is their problem not yours.

      What do you mean that mahinda is not in the thoroughbred caste?Does he not claim he is Govigama?

      Can you tell me how mahinda has demolished caste in the south?

      I thought it was kannangara who is credited with free education if my memory serves me right and not Bandaranayaka.banda was credited with starting the race ball rolling and untying the bhuddhist extremists that sir John kotalawela described as dogs that he tied up.

      You are shedding tears for the karayar and blaming the vellalas for their current plight of losing everything,but why don’t you look at yourself too and ask the question, why did you kill upto 40000 of them as alleged in the UN Darusman report.Why did you incarcerate them in barbed wire camps for years.Why did you rape and killtheir women on a mass scale.Why did you kill their children including prabha’s.Why are you taking their lands and supplanting it with army camps and sinhalese settlers.The list can go on and on,but you also shed crocodile tears for them and blame the vellalas.These are done by you,not the vellalas,besides the karayar went on a all or nothing gamble and it failed,so they also have to take some self responsibility too.You are just trying to make the vellalas the scapegoats and trying to cerate the rift between the two.As for your claim that the vellalas are responsible for the karayar not getting the free education benefits as you claim it is laughable,which world have you been living in,the vellalas were never doing the administration of the north and east,it was done by yours truly the sinhalese leaders,Now only tamils are demanding devolution to try to manage their own affairs,but that too is being denied to them by the Rajapakshes.

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    Thanks Harim for a well eluducated article.

    However, some are still scepticle if the much awaited/overdue Northern Provincial Council Elections will be held.

    The May Day rally speech of Wimal Weerawansa may provide the clue to the strategy to scuttle same. The 13th Ammendment as it stands now that provides for land and police powers will be used to lodge a case in the Supreme Court. Thereafter, the current “CJ” will stall the process…

    I for one hope my prediction does not come to pass…and that the people of the North who reside there and have a legitimate right to live there, the Tamils, resettling and resident Muslims and Singalese will finally have a chance of voting in the 1st Provincial Council!

  • 0
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    Thanks Harim for a well elucidated article.

    However, some are still scepticle if the much awaited/overdue Northern Provincial Council Elections will be held.

    The May Day rally speech of Wimal Weerawansa may provide the clue to the strategy to scuttle same. The 13th Ammendment as it stands now that provides for land and police powers will be used to lodge a case in the Supreme Court. Thereafter, the current “CJ” will stall the process…

    I for one hope my prediction does not come to pass…and that the people of the North who reside there and have a legitimate right to live there, the Tamils, resettling and resident Muslims and Singalese will finally have a chance of voting in the 1st Provincial Council!

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