Does India really want a Chief Minister at its door-step?
Posted on February 17th, 2012

Chandre DHARMAWARDANA, Canada

The assumption that everyone is making is that India wants Provincial Councils and devolution of power to the North of Sri Lanka. The 13th amendment WAS indeed Rajiv Gandhi’s baby. The idea of having a Chief Minister in a controversial “ƒ”¹…”Tamil Homeland’ made up of two merged provinces, with regional control in the hands of Prabhakaran’s nominee was the knee-jerk solution of Gandhi, in response to the armed Eelamist uprising in Sri Lanka.
Gandhi, instead of thinking afresh, simply miniaturized the Indian model and pushed it on an unwilling and weakened Sri Lanka. However, today India may have realized that creating a powerful Chief Minister at its door-step is a nightmare even to itself.

Rajiv Gandhi

Dr. Subramanian Swamy
The assumption that the 13th amendment is in the Indian interest is simply taken `for granted’. However, it is increasingly evident that neither India nor Sri Lanka wants an all powerful Chief Minister at their common door-step.
The Indians initially hoped to hijack Tamil nationalism to its own ends by arming a compliant bully to jockey Jayawardena’s Yankee doodle into submission. It succeeded in the short term, but the bully committed patricide and began to tower over Tamil Nadu itself. So New Delhi knows from experience that such a Chief Minister could easily become an ally of Tamil Nadu politicians and work against the center.
Worse still, the Jaffna Chief Minister could attempt to set the center against Chennai and play his own game. The Chief Minister can even do a Perumal-like unilateral declaration of independence, and cause consternation and embarrassment to the center. Such possibilities spawn dangerous ideas in ambitious Tamil-Nadu politicians who have been tantalized by the Tiger.

Vomiting out the 13th amendment

Sri Lanka does not want a Jaffna Chief Minister who could become a puppet of Delhi or Chennai. It wants a Chief Minister who would at least cooperate with Colombo. The TNA, with its Eelamist land-owning upper-caste politics, has shown no sign of that. Sri Lanka has to formulate a home-grown solution that takes account of Lanka’s needs and Delhi’s needs, and balance the minority and majority rights without threats from terrorists and extremists.
Many NGOs support the 13th amendment and claim that its full implementation would be an important `confidence-building measure’ (CBM). One may think that Tamil nationalist parties, the EPDP or the TNA, would support it. However, Mr. Sumanthiran of the TNA has reiterated that “ƒ”¹…”… the 13th amendment is not a proper scheme. We have rejected it’. It was such rejected policies that were followed by Kumaratunga and Wickremasinghe. Furthermore, the CBM policy looks only at Tamil sensitivities ignores the Muslims, the Sinhalese, as well as the over-politicization of governance caused by Provincial Councils.
The crux of the 13th amendment is the Provincial Council with its Chief Minister. Governance becomes a Kafka’s castle of Provincial Councils, Municipal Councils, Urban and Village Councils, Pradesheeya Sabhas etc., in addition to a national electoral structure with over-arching presidential powers.
The voters are fed up of this highly politicized system, with its foreign implanted 13th amendment that breeds patronage and lifts local crooks to high positions. Of course, there are others, the NGO advocacy groups etc., who support the 13th amendment claiming middle ground, and this assures them of foreign support. On the other hand, if India stops supporting the 13th amendment, Western governments and the NGOs would have no leg to stand.
The TNA’s total vote was a mere 2.99 percent. Political realities do not support the TNA’s proposed referendum limited only to the Tamil population (less than 10 percent) to decide on “ƒ”¹…”self-determination’ for the proposed `Tamil homelands’.
What about the Tamil-speaking Muslims? A “ƒ”¹…”yes’to such a referendum that includes the many Tamils living in the South would trigger a cry to move the Southern Tamils to `their homelands’. The TNA is mum about such dangerous outcomes, and perhaps hopes to profit from recreating the 1983 racial mayhem.

LLRC recommendations

LLRC took the manthram of the 13th amendment as an ‘Indian reality’ as well as a ‘liberal-socialist reality’ that must be honoured. The LLRC did not learn a lesson from the APRC’s end in the trash can. The task of the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) is to review the LLRC and put political reality back in place. Given that the TNA has rejected the 13th amendment, the PSC’s task is simply to get the other parties to do the same and clear the path for the President. Since the 13the amendment was crafted jointly with India, it is best to get India to expunge the ghost of Gandhi and create a clean slate. What the country needs is depoliticization rather than political devolution.
This can be achieved by administrative decentralization rather than devolutionary re-politicization. Hence, in the meantime, the government should appoint a task-force to execute the non-controversial recommendations of the LLRC without further delay

4 Responses to “Does India really want a Chief Minister at its door-step?”

  1. Vijendra Says:

    SL government with a majority in the parliament should not waste time in getting rid of this Indian imposed “poison pill”. SL is too small to have so many politicians at the national and provincial levels. Besides it is not required, and is a great financial and administrative burden. I hope the Rajapaksa government, who had the guts to go through with the LTTE menace and defeat it convincingly, will have sufficient courage and will power to get rid of the Indian imposed 13th amendment and make Sri Lanka one country with one central government.

  2. Kit Athul Says:

    Mr. Dharmawardean and Vijendra, Don’t even think about logical reasoning with India. It is because if the 13th (which I call Rajive Gandhi Amendment to the SL constitution) is nullified, India has no hook on the Northern Province. Do you think India will give this up, after sacrificing Rajiv and spending over two million US dollars for IPKF? Following is true and I got it through a reliable source. Since October 2011 INDIAN RAW has spent Six million US dolars to people who wants the 13th implemented. Example Fisheries minister Senavirathne, he wants the land rights and police and land power with mineral rights. Three weeks ago almost all newpapers in SL had articles slinging mud at the Rakapkese family. Why? Indian RAW paid generously to the editors. Do you know why the land acquirement bill is at a stand still? It is because KRISHNA told openly last week, if this law is passed we do not have a foot hold in your country. We own the Trincomalee Harbor and the Prabhakeran air strip. Jawaharl Lal Neru, in 1938 wrote a constitution to create three TAMIL ONLY States in Ceylon that will be amninistered by Tamil Nadu. Clment Atlee, when he became the prime Minister reject it out right. Mr. Dharmawardena, DO YOU MEAN TO SAY INDIA WILL GIVE UP THE 13th? NEVER, NEVER EVER. If you non concur, then you are living in a dream world. Please wake up!

  3. Ben_silva Says:

    We need to have an unbiased analysis of external threats and should develop strategies and capabilities to deal with such threats. The defence acadamy and Universities ought to have researchers dealing with the external environment. I understand that India and other countries study conditions in Lanka, whilst some in Lanka live like frogs in a well. We live in a war zone and need to develop appripriate survival strategies. We also lack grass root networks to deal with serious threats such as the 13th A.

  4. kavdayako Says:

    Kit Athul has come out with a conspiracy theory. It is precisely because INDIA can use RAW very effectively that it does not want the old Rajeev Gandhi concept of having a control stick via a chief minister in Jaffna.

    I think Prof. Dharmawardana has given a clear explanation of why India has not pushed the 13th amendment more strongly. If it really wants the 13th amendment implemented it would have twisted the arm of the Government long ago. Today it finds the “13th Amendment” to be a convenient ‘manthram” that it can use when ever it wants to appease the Tamil Nadu LTTE loby, or when the TNA gos to Delhi and makes a fuss.

    But Delhi knows that having a Chief minster in Jaffna controlled by the Tamil Diaspora is a terrible thing. Don’t forget that Father Emmanuel of the tamil Diaspora was not even ALLOWED to enter India when he recently tried to arrive in Chennai.

    I think we need to follow the suggestion of the writer and do everything possible to get the Parliamentary select committe (PSC) to recommend the removal of the 13th amendment from the constitution. The govt. has a 2/3 majority and it can do so. But the PSC must pave the way for the president. I think this article by Prof. Dharamwardana appeared in the Daily News, probably reflecting the fact that some government high ups think in this manner.

    That is a very good sign, as WE DON’T WANT the 13 th amendment. But there is the Tissa Vitharana types, Marxists, Colombo lobby etc, who want the 13th. We need to fight them. I see this article by Dharmawardana as a sign of that fight.

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