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Two elections 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 rule.
It also hopes to make use of the Tamil factor to push the Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam-Congress coalition into the defensive and into embarrassing situations.

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 welfare schemes.
“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 Karunanidhi’s mantra.
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 yesterday.
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 of it.
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 January 12.

‘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 days earlier.
On January 12 night, Indian fishermen alleged that the Sri Lankan Navy shot dead Veera Pandyan (24) from Jegadhapattinam of Pudukoddai and injured another.
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 Buddhist priests.
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 attackers.
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 statewide attention.

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 Tamil people.  
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.