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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2902

TNA Fighting to Stay Relevant

By Shivanthi Ranasinghe

With just a month more for the presidential election, all the political parties fielding a candidate are busy with the campaign. The Tamil National Alliance on the other hand is fighting to stay relevant. They had presented the presidential candidates with 13 points if the candidate is to expect their support. It is obvious to anyone with even a marginal political sense that these demands are just words of bravado. Despite the many candidates in the arena, not a single one can even afford to be seen giving a hearing to these extremely absurd demands.

This the TNA, more than any other entity, understands perfectly. They just need to show their constituents that their fight has remained unwavered. However, TNA’s demands are very much akin to Lasantha Wickrematunga’s case. These only make an appearance when an election is round the corner.

When the Yahapalana Government came into being, the TNA was appointed as the Opposition. Yet, the TNA only represented two of the nine provinces and had just 16 seats in Parliament. The Joint Opposition that comprised of over 55 MPs from eight provinces on the other hand were ignored over a mere technicality. Despite the disparity in numbers, both alliances were allocated the same amount of time to speak. Thus the representatives of over 48 laks were muted. This travesty was celebrated as a triumph of democracy.

For nearly five years, the TNA was in cahoots with the Yahapalana Government. They must have been the only Opposition that worked for the survival of the Government. In fact, they appealed to India - one of the “Regime Change” partners - to safeguard the Government that was fast becoming unpopular.

When Maithripala Sirisena pulled the rug under the Yahapalana Government and had it toppled for 52 days, TNA too lent its weight for the Yahapalana Government to get back into its feet again. However in the process they lost their mantle as the Opposition. The Government they helped get reinstated also did not back them up and the Opposition Leadership was finally handed to the rightful owner, the JO.

At that point, the TNA could have joined and strengthened the Government. They however opted to sit with the Opposition and support the Government, which makes them neither the Government nor the Opposition.

During these five years, either as the Opposition or as agents of the Government in the Opposition, the TNA did not achieve anything. Their constituents did not see any betterment to their lives despite the very favorable conditions. The Government in power is genuflecting to the West who in turn find it fashionable to commiserate with the woes of the Tamils in the North and East.

Every single delegate from the West made it a point to run straight to Jaffna, sometimes as soon as they land in the country. There they met with the political leaders, activists and any weeping mother or widow. However, none of these representatives made it their business to redress the real issues that confronts the people in these two provinces, which was both social and economic.

Socially, the perverted influences from the Tamil Diaspora in the west and the rising narcotic trade are creating huge problems for the people in the North. As these elements are directly connected to the underworld in the West, these sympathizers are well in a position to take concrete measures to address this issue. The dire economy of the region also can be easily solved through well placed investments. However, there straightforward solutions are of no interest to those who shed crocodile tears by the bucket.

The people in the North are especially confined to few economic options. Fishery is one of their main revenue earners. Yet, their income is daily robbed by Indian poachers, who come in trawlers. They not only haul away a significant portion of the daily catch, but also destroy the seabed as well. The Indian Government had steadfastly refused to address the issue, which should send a strong message to the people in the North as well as the politicians who run to India for every matter concerning Sri Lanka.

The Indian Government will only work for the Indian people. When countries like Nepal and Bangladesh are working with an independent mind towards their sovereign nation, the Sri Lankan politicians tiptoe around India as if walking on eggshells. The Tamils also need to realize that their one and only Government is the Sri Lankan Government and reject any interferences or influences from other governments.

None of the solutions that India had pushed Sri Lanka into had served any purpose to any community in Sri Lanka. When India sheltered, financed and trained Tamil youth in the ‘70s and ‘80s, it was to keep the Tamil Nadu happy and distracted as well as to get a control over geopolitical situation where the tide was rising against India. India was getting increasingly apprehensive over the US presence in the region. When India directly intervened against the military operations against the LTTE in late ‘80s, they in effect challenged US, who in turn took the hint and looked the other way.

The white elephant Sri Lanka was burdened with was not the Hambanthota Port, but the 13th Amendment. This was amply demonstrated by none other than this Government who simply refused to hold the Provincial Council elections. Over the past years, each council had become defunct as elections were not held. The greatest irony is that it was the Rajapaksa Administration who held Provincial Council elections in the North for the first time, paving the path for the likes of CV Wigneswaran to politics.

It is however a pity that the opportunity was grabbed by those whose entire lives had revolves around Colombo and not from someone in the region. This is however a matter for the Tamil community to resolve and hopefully they will in the future find representatives from the North who will address their issues as opposed to representatives from Colombo, whose thinking is severely disjointed from the ground realities.

Today, the TNA who did not make a peep as way of protest against the postponement of the Provincial Council elections is pledging support to the candidate who will promise them federalism. For good measure they had also demanded that all “Tamil political prisoners” must be freed whilst prosecuting those accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity and genocide. They may be hoping to confuse their constituents into believing that those who they term as “Tamil political prisoners” and those who would be found guilty of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity are two different entities. In reality, it would not be so.

Therefore, these are just words that they play, hoping to create enough confusion. If the results of the local government elections are anything to go by, then it is obvious that they stand exposed as politicians who had dwarfed themselves through their own self-serving ways.

- Asian Tribune -

TNA Fighting to Stay Relevant
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