Mistaking the Tiger for Tamil (Once Again)
[b]Mistaking the Tiger for Tamil (Once Again)[/b]
By Tisaranee Gunasekara
[i][b] "Surely he wandereth from the way,
His reason lost…"[/b][/i]
[b]Æschylus [/b]([i]Promêtheus Bound[/i])
So the first round of the battle between the LTTE and the Mahinda Rajapakse administration went to the Tigers. It could not have been otherwise given the delusions that the new President and his allies seem to be labouring under. Once Mr. Rajapakse took his ‘here I stand, I will move no further’ stand on the unitary state his camp behaved as if the battle against the Tigers was already half won. It was as if the worst crime of Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and Ranil Wickremesinghe was not that they were soft on the Tigers but that they were soft on federalism. Once Mahinda Rajapakse took his stand against federalism loudly and clearly (not to say proudly!) his allies and supporters were in a triumphant mood; ‘that would teach the Tigers they cannot mess with us’ seemed to be the gist of their thinking.
Then the Tigers attacked, and for a couple of days blood flowed freely. The hitherto jubilant Rajapakse camp was forced to confront the reality - that the LTTE has not been tamed by the new President’s uncompromising stand on the unitary state. Then came the announcement that the Rajapakse administration wants Norway to act as the facilitator once again. Having no room to retreat on the devolution front, the President had to concede on the appeasement front. Mahinda Rajapakse, the JVP and the JHU have one illusion in common with Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, Ranil Wickremesinghe and the local and international peaceniks – the belief that federalism is what the Tigers are really after. The Sinhala supremacists think that federalism is what the LTTE is actually after since in their fevered imagination it is akin to Eelam; the Tiger appeasers believe that the Tigers would settle for federalism only if there is a Southern consensus in favour of it, soon. It is this illusion that is sustaining the federalism vs. unitary debate and enabling the LTTE to further the Eelam cause irrespective of who is holding office in Colombo.