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North and South Trust Deficit?

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The 100 day ‘unachievable target’ is a reality now. People knew it as a clever election slogan, but undeliverable. Sri Lankans are quite used to these political gimmicks, and they know that politicians any way perform like actors away from true facts of life. The concocted current regime with ‘two prime ministers’ (people still do not know what happened to the former PM, D.M. Jayaratne) and same with ‘what happened’ to the former Cabinet. What is strange and hitherto unknown in any democracy is the fact of people voting for an executive president and getting a new PM and a new Cabinet while the incumbent PM (Jayaratne) and the active Cabinet (former) became suddenly dysfunctional. Some argue this as the reason why perhaps all the budgetary concessions did not trickle down to the public; it might be the case that the interim Cabinet is also dysfunctional or at least the business community feels that it is half baked and un-mandated, hence their decisions are also dysfunctional. It is in this context of a political limbo that ‘a trust deficit’ between the North and the South is yet again existing.  The protest by the Tamils to the ‘mild president Sirisena’s’ visit to London is a moment for this regime to assess what TNA is really after.

TNA’s politics
The TNA is also arguably a concocted alliance, a bed fellow of the decimated LTTE. They were forced to accept the most bizarre political puppetry and to collude for its own survival with the infamous and the democratically untenable declaration that the LTTE is the ‘sole representative of the Tamil people’. The TNA manifesto on February 25, 2004 presented in Killinochchi clearly displays how much it was glued uncritically to the terror sponsored by the LTTE (see the picture with the slain Tamil Chelvam). They, in this manifesto reiterated that there is the ‘Sinhala Nation’ and the ‘Tamil Nation’, (conspicuously a separatist notion where Muslims are incorporated as a Tamil speaking group and not necessarily as a community with a distinct identity and it would be interesting to consult the Muslim parties on the TNA’s political prescription of the identity of the Muslims in the island). The manifesto further says, “In this political environment the Tamil organizations got together and resolved on May 14, 1976 to establish a sovereign independent Tamil Eelam based on our inalienable right to self-determination. Independent Tamil Eelam received its mandate as a result of the overwhelming support given to the TULF by the Tamil speaking people of North East in the general elections of July 1977”.The TNA is now free from the fear psychosis that engulfed them because the life threatening factor has been annihilated. However, ten years later the TNA obviously has to act differently if they wish to be a democratically viable alliance in this country. Recent resolution by the Northern Provincial Council chief minister, Wigneswaran about ‘genocidal acts’ by the ‘Sinhala nation,’ seems to be an obvious return to the 2004 TNA manifesto where it clearly declares to “find a political solution to the Tamil national problem based on the acceptance of the fundamental proposals regarding Tamil homeland, Tamil Nation, Tamils’ right to self-government (autonomy)” (TNA manifesto 2004). This tribalisation of ‘Tamil-ness’ is what is problematic with the Wigneswaran resolution.

The Chief Minister backed by the TNA clearly needs to assess their current political options with the new regime born on 08 January 2015. The voice that comes through powerfully exhibits a serious ‘trust deficit’ on the part of the TNA. When the chief minister came to power he was symbolic of a man who could bridge this ‘trust deficit’ with well-earned associations with the political shakers and movers. Today the TNA needs to change its idiom of ‘Tamil nation’ and ‘Sinhala nation’ which is divisive and it de facto displays the same shameful political DNA and the uncompromising hardware of the LTTE and its terror campaign. Sri Lankans including Tamil citizens wish to have a TNA willing to renounce the LTTE’s brute instincts and jungle rules.

Wickremesinghe proposition
The new PM even though the writer is of the opinion that he is an un mandated man to hold office as PM of a government and a Cabinet (which is also un-mandated for all practical reasons), yet was bold and forthright to  declare that for the first time the Tamil people of this country have voted for a president in an overwhelming manner. This ‘voting gesture’, PM said, indicates their willingness for national politics, and not the politics of ‘a Tamil Nation’ or ‘a Sinhala Nation’. Wickremesinghe’s best idea since his automated rise to be the PM can be his willingness to bridge this ‘trust deficit’ between the Tamils and Sinhalese ever since the ‘1956 Sinhala Only Act’.  The TNA and the chief minister also cannot act without consulting their constituencies, but it seems they have opted to hear the vociferous and the West-pronged wings of the Diaspora that has no idea of the ground situation. The TNA has some ‘schizophrenic and nebulous foreignness’ that makes them stand aloof from the political significance of this country. It is the same political blindness and paranoia that made those trips to ‘seek advice’ from the Tamil Nadu’s renegaded political Cong shells (including the wing-clipped Jayalalithaa, noisy, but powerless Vaiko and the futureless Karunanidhi). People know that India is not Tamil Nadu. Hence, they would welcome warmly the Indian PM and this time it will be unlike the last visit of Rajiv Gandhi a quarter of a century ago. The reaction of the people then was obvious. This visit of  PM Modi to the North  would help bridge the ‘trust deficit’ alongside the Wickremesinghe proposition despite his provocative comment on ‘shooting the Indian fishermen in Sri Lankan waters.

Modi’s visit   
Indian Prime minister and his party was challenged by Arvind Kejriwal  of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) who was sworn in as   Delhi’s 7th  chief minister in February 2015; despite the so called ‘Modi wave’ of the Bharatiya Janatha Party (BJP) that secured a landslide victory in May 2014. Modi is a seasoned man for victory and defeat due to his humble origins and rise to power in Gujarat despite his obnoxious silence as its chief minister over the three-day period of inter-communal violence in 2002 (now known as Gujarat violence or the Gujarat pogrom in the media). It is similar to J. R. Jayawardena’s silence in July 1983 in Colombo as Sri Lanka’s president. These remain like sword of the Damocles in their political lives, never forgotten, ever hanging.

The Indian leader’s visit has to be productive in terms of cultivating Sri Lanka’s bilateral relations on many grounds. Hence his appearance in the parliament where he addressed the country’s peoples’ representatives is significant. Here he knew that he addressed the National State Assembly (NSA) and not the TNA’s bifurcated view of a ‘Sinhala nation’ or the ‘Tamil nation’ but Sri Lanka as a sovereign state. India cannot violate that sovereignty of Sri Lanka as a State. Modi possibly cannot push models of governance to this Sovereign state of Sri Lanka. Some suggest regionalism, UN’s Balkan jeopardy of the Kosovo prototype, unresolved South Sudan model or the resource plundered East Timor blueprint. These will not help North South ‘trust deficit’. People in Sri Lanka want Prime minister Modi to continue to be a friend of Sri Lanka as a man who can contribute to bridge the North South ‘trust deficit’, also perhaps urge the TNA to consider the ‘Wickremesinghe proposition’. Urge the Muslim parties and other parties in the South as well to be engaged in national politics and not tribalize or ethnicize politics, the root cause of ‘trust deficits’. People believe that Modi is gone back with a good learning curve and with some ‘take home material’ at a time when the power of the Union territory of Delhi is no longer under the BJP but with chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal of the AAP. What a turn of events less than just 10 months of the ‘Modi wave’. A lesson for all politicians!


Resolution by the Northern Provincial Council chief minister, Wigneswaran about ‘genocidal acts’ by the ‘Sinhala nation,’ seems to be a regression to the TNA’s LTTE phase.

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