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The Presidential election and the Tamils of Sri Lanka

A number of writers who identify themselves as ``Tamils", as well as  demented fellow travelers of the LTTE, like Kumar David have come up with arcane arguments telling Tamils how to vote in the coming presidential election in Sri Lanka. Here in Toronto, I hear interminable discussions of the topic, and cannot escape from the advise  of the wise . What is most painful to an old man like me is the feeling  of "deja vu" and "deja entendu’’, in all this chatter. The old specters of G G Ponnambalam and S J V Chelvanayagam are still here, one  calling the other a traitor, demanding and debating how to achieve the exclusive Tamil Homelands, or how to fan and pin the Sinhala polity. The answers seem to be strangly cloned from the old mould that failed.

The difference today seems to me that, instead of men wearing coats, neckties and trousers, today we have men wearing white verti and even pottu on their foreheads. The position of  Hindu orthodoxy is stronger than in 1949 when the Christian Tamils led the show. But their turn of mind is equally right-wing and reactionary. The individuals, with a few exceptions are as far away from the common village Tamils as was during the days of GGP and SJV,  allowing for the changed norms of social discourse. The Vellalar elites of yore who lived in Colombo and owned  property in  Jaffna are now replaced by others whose wealth  may be in Toronto, Boston or London, live in Colombo, Chennai or Singapore.

So, what have these  ultra-reactionary "Tamil leaders" decided? Did  they plan to support some socialist candidate who had all along  backed the "rights of the Tamils"? No.  Just as SJV, GGP and their Karuvakaadu clan  gravitated away from Colvin, NM and other socialist leaders who talked of "parity of status’’ for Tamil, today also we see the racist cabal of the TNA aligning with Ranil Wickremasinghe and Mangled Munasinghe. These individuals no longer represent their parties. There are merely a right-wing reactionary cabal, reflecting the narrow segmented interests of a small elite mercantile group. The TNA is a congenital component of this group. So it is not surprising that the TNA wants us to vote for the UNP-TNA common candidate - the very Sarath Fonseka whoallegedly  led a genocidal campaign against the Tamils!

The TNA, and their handlers in Scarborough  think that they  can eventually revive the "exclusive Tamil homeland" demands of the 1949 Arasu Kadchi resolution, or the more well known Vaddukkdodei resolution of 1975. It accuses the government of  "Sinhala colonization  in the Tamil areas". This was already one of GGP’s accusations against the British Raj in front of Soullbury, and rejected by him. The political program is "deja vu", but the problem has changed enormously. Have the Tamils NOT learnt anything? How is Sarath Fonseka to deal with the Diaspora - a dimension that did NOT exist in 1949 at Maradana or in 1975 at Vaddukkodai?

The Tamils of Sri Lanka that I know of are the poor Tamils. They would not have been admitted anywhere near some of our leaders. The Tamils have a hierarchical society, even today. The LTTE war, the refugee camps of terror and counter-terror did a lot to equalize our society temporarily. But the canker is still there. We see it even in Toronto,  where we have a  surfeit of Kovils, re-creating some very unpleasant aspects of Hindu orthodox society.

The old political programs of the  ILankai Tamil Arasu  Kadchi (ITAK), based on the Tamil-homelands concept  did not help  the Tamils. It decimated Tamil society by thrusting on it a war against the majority which is five  times its size.  The Tamils had a major  stake in the  free-market welfare state created during the Senanayake -Oliver Goonatillke era. The elite Tamils of the ITAK thought more about becoming kings in their piece of Eelam (Arasu) than about the welfare of the Tamils.

Today the Tamils have to vehemently reject the  Vaddukkoddai resolution, and go back to the "Ceylonese’’ concept of the Senanayake era, or embrace its modern form,  the "Sri Lankan Unitary State" that has been announced by Mahinda Rajapaksa. Contrary to the propaganda of our demented intellectuals, it is we Tamils - poor Tamils - who should shout Uchhahams of joy for the demise of the LTTE. We need to understand that there are no exclusive homelands, and we need to let Tamils as well as Sinhalese or Muslims live in every part of the country. We need a period of stability and consolidation rather than turmoil and change. We need integration, fast link ups of our northern cities with Colombo and other engines of economic growth.

As Dr Subramanium Swamy of India has stated, the Tamils must back Mahinda Rajapaksa. The Tamils must reject the TNA who should be tried for complicity in the war crimes of the LTTE. The Tamils of Sri Lanka must think of themselves as Tamils culturally.

As citizens, they can only be Sri Lankans.

The spectres of GGP, and SJV have to be entombed with that of Prabhakaran and the TNA at this election.

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