and the Tamil factor
The Tamil factor
will play a significant role in the two elections
scheduled to be held within the next two months on
either side of the Palk- Strait.
The four-party coalition led by Tamil National
Alliance (TNA) is seeking mandate from the Tamil
people of the north and the east to negotiate with
the Sri Lankan government on its programme to
alleviate the day-to-day hardships the people of the
two provinces endure and a political solution for
the Tamil problem.
In Tamil Nadu, Jayalalitha-led eight-party
opposition is seeking to dislodge Chief Minister
Muthuvelu Karunanidhi’s administration supported by
Sonia Gandhi’s Indian National Congress (INC).
The opposition coalition that includes the
communist parties - Communist Party of India (CPI)
and Communist Party of India (Marxist)- CPI-M – and
the pro- LTTE groups including Vaiko’s Marumalarchi
Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam (MDMK) hope to unseat
Karunanidhi on cost of living, corruption and family
It also hopes to make use of the Tamil factor to
push the Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam-Congress
coalition into the defensive and into embarrassing
In Sri Lanka and in Tamil Nadu, the ruling
coalitions led by the respective leaders - President
Mahinda Rajapaksa and Karunanidhi - exude confidence
and forecast massive victories.
Rajapaksa relies on his record of defeating
Velupillai Pirapaharan and ending the three-decade
civil war and Karunanidhi on his unassailable
achievement of implementing the impressive series of
“We have won the war against terrorism. We will win
the war of development,” is Rajapaksa’s slogan.
“We have served the people. They are with us,” is
Overall they seem right. But they face a set of
similar serious problems.
Most important of them is the cost of living which
is eating into the fragile living standard of the
people of Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu.
“People are finding it extremely difficult to live.
The prices of food materials are going up on a daily
basis,” says JVP propaganda secretary Vijitha
Herath, on the conclusion of the nominations
JVP’s politburo member Anura Kumara Dissanayake says
cost of living would be the main issue the party
would highlight. The UNP too says so.
G Ramakrishnan, state secretary, Communist Party of
India-Marxist, expressed similar views soon after he
signed an agreement with Jayalalitha to fight the
state assembly polls together in April.
He said corruption and family rule would be the
other major issues.
Corruption about the allocation of second generation
Spectrum (2G) which involve massive 17.6 million
Indian rupees has become a major issue in India
leading to the resignation of Telecommunications
Minister A Rajah from the central government. Rajah
was a DMK nominee. Jayalalitha is making capital out
Though issues linked to Sri Lankan Tamils cannot
determine the outcome of the polls they are of high
emotive value in Tamil Nadu.
The latest issue concerns the death of fisherman
Jayakumar (28) from Pushpavanam near Vedaraniyam on
‘Third party’ role
Fishermen, who accompanied Jayakumar, allege that
Sri Lankan Navy was responsible for the death. Sri
Lankan High Commissioner to India Prasad Kariyawasam
has denied the incident.
He said Sri Lankan Navy was not involved and said he
suspected the hands of a ‘third party’ in the recent
killing of two Indian fishermen.
The other incident is said to have taken place ten
On January 12 night, Indian fishermen alleged that
the Sri Lankan Navy shot dead Veera Pandyan (24)
from Jegadhapattinam of Pudukoddai and injured
With the alleged January 24 incident feeling is
running high in the coastal belt of Tamil Nadu.
Thousands of fishermen staged demonstrations in the
harbor town of Nagapatinam on Thursday sitting on
the roads and blocking traffic for several hours.
The demonstration was led by Ramakrishnan, a leader
of Tamil Nadu Fishermen Battle Organisation.
“For the past 12 years we have been asking for our
security as well as the security of our belongings
but the Indian Government has failed to do so,”
Ramakrishnan charged and added: “If the attacks are
repeated, then the fishermen would go to war with
the Sri Lankan navy.”
He said they would send 25,000 trained youth to wage
a war on Sri Lanka. And Tamil Nadu politicians are
encouraging the fishermen.
P Nedumaran, Pirapaharan’s guru, has suggested to
the Indian government to arm the fishermen.
Violent incidents are also being provoked in various
parts of Tamil Nadu:
* More than 100 fisherwomen of different
organizations besieged Home Minister P
Chidampaparam’s house in Chennai. They were all
arrested and later released.
* Hundreds of activists of Nam Thamilar Movement
tried to lay siege of Sri Lankan Deputy High
Commissioners office in Chennai.
About 200 of them were arrested.
The most disturbing incident was the attack on the
Mahja Bodhi Society, Egmore on Tuesday night.
Police said a gang of 10 men screamed vengeance as
they attacked the Buddhist premises. They also
destroyed the Buddha statue and attacked four
Tamil Nadu Government has expressed regret over the
attack on Maha Bhodi Society and had provided
security to Sri Lankan institutions.
It announced that it had arrested two of the
The death of Jayakumar is being politicised.
Jayalalitha visited Jayakumar’s home and offered his
wife Murugeswari 100,000 Indian rupees and offered
to help educate her children. Not to be outdone
Karunanidhi sent her 500,000 Indian rupees and
offered her a job.
Jayalalitha has called upon Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh to resign as he had failed to provide
protection for Indian fishermen. She had also called
for the return of Katchaitivu to India.
Such agitations are going to provide the environment
for LTTE supporters to reactivate their propaganda.
Caddalore incident provides an indication.
Ten organisers of the ‘Tamil Awakening Conference’
were arrested on January 22 for holding a conference
in support of the creation of Eelam in Sri Lanka.
They had on the stage Pirapaharan’s photographs and
the photographs of the Martyr’s Homes which were
destroyed by the Sri Lankan army.
The activists went on fast upon arrest attracting
Analysts, who observed the trend in the north and
east, during the last week say that the TNA-led
coalition might capture the administration of the
local bodies in those provinces.
The joining of Dharmalingam Siddarthan led PLOTE, V
Anandasanagare led TULF and N Sri Kantha-led TNLA
with the TNA has created a new enthusiasm among the
The rejection of all the nominations of the EPDP in
the Jaffna and Kilinochchi districts has eliminated
the opposition to the TNA.
Political analysts feel that March 17 local
government election may provide a new beginning for
Sri Lanka to work out a durable peace.