In the LTTE days, Uthayan was a communalist, unreliable newspaper in Jaffna while Valampuri was the staid, respectable newspaper that intellectuals subscribed to.
That is no longer so after the demise of the LTTE. As the Uthayan became more mainstream, Valampuri Editor, N. Vijeyasundaram, has moved his newspaper to the right and says Christians should become Hindus. He has been rewarded with a teaching position at Jaffna University. Even this was tolerated by many and his readership grew at the expanse of Thinakkural. As far back as in Christmas 2009 he claimed that Muslims were using dog meat in their shops. Protests from both sides grew and Jaffna got polarized.
Despite this background he became coconvenor of Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam’s and Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran’s Thamil Makkal Peravai (TNPF). The newspaper grew in extremism and readership especially during February’s local government elections, and has taken a turn for the worse in projecting an even more extremist communalist slant.
In two separate recent editorials Vijeyasundaram has claimed that Muslims have the highest fertility rate in the country and would overtake Tamils as the most important minority by 2030. He further claimed that Tamils are being converted to Islam and that Mullaitivu and Mannar will soon be Muslim areas. He also alleged that Muslim businesses are expanding rapidly.
Muslims are boiling and were seen today, September 1, burning copies of Valampuri at the 5-road junction where the Muslims are dominant.
A Jaffna-based observer commented, “The TNPF is reaching to the bottom of the barrel to get the support it needs to replace the TNA.”
At this critical juncture, Chief Minister Wigneswaran issued a statement dated 31 Aug, 2018. He said he has four choices before him: 1) To fold up and go home to continue his retired life (and by saying continuing his retired life he seems to be admitting to doing nothing as CM); 2) To join another party and stand for elections; 3) Starting a new party; and 4) To give up party politics and make the TNPF a mass movement for joining local and expatriate Tamils to put forward a solution for problems confronting Tamils.
The same observer felt if it is choice 4, we are in for great disruptions in Jaffna. (By Vishaakha Navaratnam)