Chaos in the Tamil political scene
Posted on December 9th, 2017

By Manekshaw Courtesy Ceylon Today

I would rather obey a fine lion, much stronger than two hundred rats of my own species Voltaire

Turbulent weather prevailed in the Northern and Eastern Provinces in the past two weeks with the Department of Meteorology alerting the people in the two Provinces of a stormy atmosphere.

Special meetings were also held by the Government officials to discuss on the precautionary measures to be taken to deal with cyclone ‘Ockhi’ which had passed through areas covering the Southern part of South India and creating an inclement weather condition in the coastal areas of the Northern and Eastern Provinces in the Island.

However, cyclone ‘Ockhi’ had hardly done any damage in the two Provinces when it passed through the Bay of Bengal. Whereas the ‘cyclonic’ atmosphere prevailed in the North and the East, the Tamil political scene, in the past few weeks, has shaken the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), with gaps appearing in its unity.

The TNA which was formed in October 2001, is the second Tamil political alliance to be formed after the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) which was formed with the coalition of the Illankai Tamil Arasu Katchchi (ITAK) led by late S.J.V. Chelvanayakam and All Ceylon Tamil Congress (ACTC) led by late G.G. Ponnampalam, the grandfather of Tamil National People’s Front Gajendrakumar Ponnampalam.

The TULF which was formed in 1976 with the Vaddukoddai resolution calling for a separate Tamil State Tamil Eelam remained a formidable force in Tamil politics until the Tamil militants took the upper hand in the mid-eighties.

When the Tamil militants were active with their bases in India former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanithi took the initiative to bring the unity among the Lankan Tamil militants and an alliance was formed with Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization (TELO) Eelam Revolutionary Organization of Students (EROS) and Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF) with the blessing of Karunanidhi.

It was within a period of one year, the coalition of five Tamil militants which was known as Eelam National Liberation Front (ENLF) started in the early part of 1984 began to breakup with LTTE for its supremacy spearheaded a ruthless manhunt annihilating the cadres of rival militant outfits.

Therefore, it is evident whether among the Tamil moderates or the militants there was hardly any coalition or alliance that remained stable in the Tamil political scene.

TNA walks out criticizing ITAK

The EPRLF which remained as one of the four constituent parties in the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has walked out criticizing the ITAK which remains the major political organ in the alliance with eleven out of sixteen seats in the alliance not being accommodative of other constituent parties.

The latest situation is that another constituent party in the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization (TELO) announcing a few days ago that it was not in a position to work with the ITAK in the alliance anymore.

However, the ITAK Parliamentarians, Mavai S. Senathirajah and M. A. Sumanthiran being confident of preventing further splits appearing in the alliance, the TNA Leader R. Sampanthan has announced that the present crisis situation in the TNA would be sorted out before the nominations are submitted for the forthcoming Local Government polls.

In the backdrop of EPRLF and TELO being in conflict with the TNA a new coalition has emerged with veteran Tamil politician and Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) Leader V. Anandasangaree who had entered Parliament accommodating the EPRLF leader Suresh K. Premachandran.

Anandasangaree and Premachandran announcing their new coalition has even reached an agreement to contest the forthcoming LG polls under the TULF symbol ‘Rising Sun’.

Premachandran was critical of the TNA leadership from the time he had lost his seat in the Parliamentary polls in 2015.

He, with the coordination of Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF) leader Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam had even created the Tamil People’s Council (TPC) a year ago with the blessing of the Northern Chief Minister C. V. Wigneswaran and other civil society elites in Jaffna.

The TPC was even considered to emerge as a political front challenging the TNA.

However, Premachnadran’s new coalition with TULF leader V. Anandasangaree has angered TNPF leader Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam who has been a critic of the TULF leader.

As far as the present situation in the TNA is concerned with EPRLF and TELO threatening to walk out from the alliance, the ITAK which remains as a formidable political party with eleven out of sixteen seats of the TNA in Parliament and with 33 seats in the Local Government bodies in the North and the East, constituent parties cannot be a threat at all for the ITAK which has very well rooted deep in the political scene in the Northern and Eastern Provinces.

Therefore, in a post-war atmosphere with the failures of the Tamil moderates and the hardliners in the past, it could be very well realized that the new development appearing in the Tamil political scene is making the people in the North and the East to cultivate thinking as it was told by Voltaire: “I would rather obey a fine lion, much stronger than two hundred rats of my own species”.

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