Reds looking for Tamil votes : Somawansa mum on JVP’s change of stance


By Franklin R. Satyapalan

JVP leader Somawansa Amarasinghe yesterday declined to comment on his party’s motives for accepting the concept of federalism in the context of its implacable opposition to such an arrangement in the past. Queried on this matter, Amarasinghe politely declined to make any comment at this stage. A senior government minister who asked not to be identified said that he believed that the JVP had realized that they would lose sizeable  representation in future elections has adopted this stance with a view to winning support among Tamils to increase their popularity and voter base.

Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara, leader of the Democratic Left Front, said that the JVP’s decision was most welcome and he would like to congratulate them.

"Things are moving very fast in the country’s politics and we are reaching a decisive stage," he said.

Nanayakkara added that the JVP’s politics is based on a Sinhala nationalist ideology and the dictatorship of the proletariat and that party "must now address the dictatorship of its politburo."

He made the further point that the JVP must now go one step further towards democracy though their decision was encouraging. But the Tamil people are not ready to trust the JVP which has taken this decision in the context of its Sinhala vote base and support dwindling noticeably and they have to move on to get a following among the Tamil people.

This is one of the reasons that led them to the acceptance of the concept of federalism.

UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake said that it was up to the government rather than the JVP to strike an accommodation with the Tamils and resolve this problem after talking to the various Tamil parties.

ITAK General Secretary Mavai Senathirjah, MP, described the JVP’s stand "very progressive" and said should be wholeheartedly welcome by moderates on both sides of the divide.

"We are happy that the JVP has finally understood that the concept of federalism which had resolved many disputes in the world and united many countries could be an acceptable way of resolving the longstanding Tamil national question," he said.

Senathirajah also said that a third round of formal bilateral talks between his party and the government was scheduled for March 1. He also confirmed reports that his party wished to initiate talks with the Venerable Mahanayakas, national parties and intellectuals in the South which could be looked forward to at a later stage.

Asked about the local government election campaign, Senathirjah said "how can we talk of a campaign when the roads are inaccessible in the Vanni with our suffering people now badly affected by the floods.

He also said that his party would inquire into the truth of reports that the Vavuniya District Secretary had wanted remaining IDPs in the camps to sign an agreement that they would vacate these camps by February 15.

SLMC General Secretary M.T. Hassen Ali, MP, said that the JVP’s decision must be welcome as federalism has proved to be a successfully unified many countries that would otherwise have divided.

"I belief that some sections of the majority community have unfounded and unnecessary fears about the federal system," he said.

TULF leader V. Anandasangaree said that he welcomed the position taken by the JVP and pointed out that he too had been advocating federalism or the Indian model as an alternative.

"I earnestly hope that the government would grasp this opportunity to accept federalism or alternatively accept the Indian model which I am confident will be acceptable to the large majority of our Sinhala brethren.

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