Ilankai Tamil Sangam

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Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

Time Up for All Party Conning

The Morning Leader editorial, October 15, 2008

President Mahinda Rajapakse’s theatrics in the APC [All Party Conference], it appears, cannot go on for long. India wants a solution for Tamils and they are pressing for implementation of the 13th Amendment at least. The time for All Party Conning is nearing an end.

Convinced that he is on the verge of a military victory over the LTTE, President Mahinda Rajapakse is being regularly emphatic that there is no military solution to political problems and that such problems have to be resolved through political means. The LTTE and their fellow travelers will however be saying that what is being attempted is a military solution because if they are militarily defeated and made to surrender arms, the solution that will be proposed will be the victor’s dictates. History shows that all ‘political solutions’ after military victories are necessarily military solutions wrapped up in garbs of peace.

President Rajapakse’s consistent calls to this so called All Party Conference – as he did on Saturday – does not indicate the kind of solution he intends to present to the Tamil people. In fact it is fair to ask whether he wants or expects this assortment of impotent parties to produce a ‘solution’ at all.

In our previous editorial comments we have clearly stated that it would be ridiculous to expect these divergent groups to come up with any viable political solution because together they represent only a miniscule proportion of the Sri Lankan people. The country’s big political parties have no confidence in this conference and are not participating.

The UNP and the JVP which together represent a substantial section of the Sinhala constituency are keeping out. Although they did initially attend sessions of the APC, President Rajapakse’s political manoeuverings have resulted in a loss of confidence. The JHU that claims to represent the Buddhists — albeit marginally —too is now keeping out. The LTTE whose participation is absolutely essential if any kind of solution is to be reached has kept out of it from the very inception. The TNA which is described as a proxy of the LTTE has also been non participants.

The Muslim Congress has been in and out of the APC. Only a breakaway faction of the LTTE led by the gun toting Karuna Group now claims to represent Tamils. Thus the basic question arises: Who is representing whom? Or it could also be asked: Who is fooling whom?

Rajapakse wants to show to the outside world that, in his quest for a solution, he is attempting to be as democratic as possible and wants the diverse political parties to arrive at a consensus. However, even a schoolboy will realise that given the bitter political feuding between various parties and even intra party squabbles and the extreme polarisation of political parties, one has to be living in cuckooland to expect such a consensus to emerge. If ever such a solution is attempted it is obvious that leadership should come from the all powerful Executive President of the country. He should be able to weld the opinion of the major political parties in the south and then present it to the Tamil people.

What is President Rajapakse’s game plan? It is apparent that his basic objective is political survival. With real inflation running at a near 30 per cent he is keeping his political power intact with the propaganda gained in victories in the battlefield. A political solution necessitates the granting of rights to Tamils and devolution of power to the north and east. But such a move will not go down well with the Sinhala electorates, Rajapakse having advocated a very strong Sinhala line during the presidential election campaign. Thus his strategy appears to be to keep the pot boiling till he can claim a total military victory and then come out with his own pro-Sinhala solution.

But President Rajapakse has to contend with the Brahma in New Delhi – the creator of the LTTE and most of the Tamil militant groups. Only the New Delhi Brahma can be their destroyer too. But the New Delhi Brahma in the form of the ruling Congress Party is in trouble. Leaders Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh now desperately need the support of Tamil Nadu parties such as the DMK whose strong Tamilian ties stretch across the Palk Straits. And these parties are concerned and flexing their muscles to get India to move in and help the Tamils besieged in the Wanni as the Sri Lankan armed forces advance. They want New Delhi to intervene.

It happened in 1987 and what the LTTE will be hoping is for history to repeat itself now.

New Delhi has been talking tough to the Sri Lanka government and what it will do is anybody’s guess. But New Delhi too has its limitations. It is now on the brink of claiming Global Power status having being recognised as a nuclear power with the signing of the Indo-US nuclear power deal only last week. It will not be in keeping with the status of a Big Power seeking a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council to be seen intervening in the affairs of a small neighbouring country.

But survival and a return to power at the next Indian general elections, likely to be held in the first half of next year, is all important to the Congress Party and this party despite all its lofty ideals is like any South Asian political organisation as was evident when allegations were leveled in the Lok Sabha recently in a crucial vote which if they lost would have resulted in the collapse of the government. LTTE supporters in Tamil Nadu have the potential to do that.

President Mahinda Rajapakse’s theatrics in the APC it appears cannot go on for long. India wants a solution for Tamils and they are pressing for implementation of the 13th Amendment at least. The time for All Party Conning is nearing an end.