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The Toady’s Throne in Jaffna

by Sachi Sri Kantha, April 19, 2010

Secondly, plausibility that the Jaffna district’s Tamil voters are on the same wavelength as that the Sinhalese voters south of Jaffna is disproved, as the votes earned by Devananda were mainly from the Sinhala armed regiment stationed in Jaffna, and not from Tamils. As I presented earlier, the number of votes polled by Devananda (28,585) in the April 8th election was less than President Rajapaksa received (44,154) in the January 26th election, though contesting with the same UPFA banner. Devananda had been a cabinet minister in the SLFP-government from October 2000 to December 2001, and again from April 2004 to March 2010. What does he have to show that his toadiness was manna to Eelam Tamils for over 7 years? Jaffna voters cannot be hoodwinked.

The wheel turns, and it is the turn of the toady in Jaffna now. In the last general election held in April 8th, the foremost Tamil toady of today Douglas Devananda received the highest number of preferential votes in the Jaffna district.

First, I should provide a definition of who is a toady. Here is one in my collection, which provides the historical context of this term. According to the Atlantic Monthly (April 1989, p. 104),

“a toady, one who is known for his fawning, sycophantic behavior, was originally called a toad-eater and ate toads for a living (‘I inquired of him if William Utting the toade-eater…did not once keepe at Laxfield; he tould me yes, and said he had seene him eate a toade, nay two’ – J. Rous, Diary, 1629). A toad-eater was typically in the employ of a charlatan who sold nostrums that were said to be so powerful and universal that they could even act as antidotes to a dread poison allegedly found in toads. To prove the efficacy of his cure-all, the charlatan would compel his obsequious assistant to eat a toad (or to pretend to eat one). The toad-eater would then feign convulsions and death, whereupon his master would administer a swig of the elixir and restore the toad-eater to health.”

The dots, italics and spellings were retained, as in the original. From the historical context, it is not difficult to guess, (1) who is the charlatan? (2) what is the elixir of interest to Tamils? To evaluate the recent performance of Devananda on April 8th, one has to compare it with the voting pattern of Jaffna district at the presidential election of January 26, 2010.

Of the registered electors in the voting list 721,359 (One has to ignore the question whether this number true or false, as it is the officially stated number of the Sri Lankan election agency), 185,132 (25.66%) polled in the presidential election on January 26, 2010. Sarath Fonseka received 113,877 (63.84%) of the votes, while President Mahinda Rajapaksa received 44,154 (24.75%) votes. The voters in Jaffna district snubbed President Rajapaksa convincingly. Soon after the results, it was reported in the media that Devananda told his supporters that he was going to resign his minister post for being the reason for Mahinda Rajapakse’s defeat in Jaffna peninsula in the presidential election (January 30,2010). But, it was not for real. It turned out that this toady Devananda was playing a game and did not actually resign his minister post.

Douglas Devananda – the EPDP Leader

In the April 8th parliamentary election, the number of registered electors in the voting list of Jaffna district was 721,359 [the same as in the presidential elections]. 168,277 (23.33%) went to the polls. The United People’s Freedom Alliance (headed by the SLFP) received 47,622 votes. The party of Devananda (Eelam Peoples Democratic Party) was not on the polling roster. Among those 47,622 votes, Devananda received 28,585 votes (15,569 votes less than what was received by President Rajapaksa). From a convincing comparison of numbers, one can infer that Devananda piggybacked on the SLFP label and the votes of Sinhalese military/armed forces voters who are stationed in Jaffna district, to place himself in the front of preferential vote receivers.

Five Phases of post-Independent Tamil History

Here is a convenient five phase division of post-Independent history of Tamils in the blessed island. Each phase was led by a distinct personality.

Phase 1 (1948-1955): Period of cooperation and double-cross: leader G.G.Ponnambalam Sr.

Phase 2 (1956-1976): Period of confrontation and friction: leader S.J.V.Chelvanayakam.

Period 3 (1977-1982): Period of confusion and double-talk: leader A. Amirthalingam.

Period 4 (1983-2009): Period of chivalry and pride: leader V. Prabhakaran.

Period 5 (2010- ongoing): Period of comedy and cowardice: leader Douglas Devananda.

I’m aware that some dimwits may point out that among the five Tamil leaders noted, Prabhakaran was different in being never elected to the Sri Lankan parliament in a election. But, in history, leadership need not be earned by an election. Ask George Washington, Mahatma Gandhi and Mao Zedong. Between 1983 and 2009, Prabhakaran was the de facto leader of Eelam Tamils, as recognized by the Sinhalese government, India’s mandarins and other states. On the contrary, many 20th century dictators, charlatans and crooks (Hitler, Nixon, Marcos, J.R. Jayewardene, to name a few) have chosen to tag the leadership label on themselves, after being elected by people.

Now, back to the Tamil toady. One week before the election date, the following news circulated. “Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) candidate Ramanathan Ankajan, contesting Jaffna electorate and his supporters were attacked around Wednesday midnight between Aanaipanthi and Aariyakulam on Jaffna-Point Pedro road by a group of armed men alleged to be of Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP), sources in Jaffna said…Conflicting interests between the candidates of SLFP and EPDP who are contesting jointly in ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) ticket may be the cause for the attack, the sources added. There were no army soldiers or police present at the location during the attack, the sources added…” [Tamil Net, April 1, 2010].

To satisfy the sentiments of his charlatan boss, the toady announced, “The Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) General Secretary and UPFA candidate Douglas Devananda who has obtained the highest number of preferential votes (28,585) from the Jaffna district, said his victory has highlighted the Jaffna people’s desire for co-existence with the rest of the country” [Sunday Observer, Colombo, April 11, 2010].

Devananda’s logic lacks internal consistency (self confrontation) and plausibility (agreement with Tamils’ experience). First, it lacks internal consistency because after the January presidential election results, this toady told his supporters that he was going to resign his minister post for being the reason for Mahinda Rajapakse’s defeat in Jaffna peninsula in the presidential election. That did not come to pass. Secondly, plausibility that the Jaffna district’s Tamil voters are on the same wavelength as that the Sinhalese voters south of Jaffna is disproved, as the votes earned by Devananda were mainly from the Sinhala armed regiment stationed in Jaffna, and not from Tamils. As I presented earlier, the number of votes polled by Devananda (28,585) in April 8th election was less than President Rajapaksa received (44,154) in the January 26th election, though contesting with the same UPFA banner. Devananda had been a cabinet minister in the SLFP-government from October 2000 to December 2001, and again from April 2004 to March 2010. What does he have to show that his toadiness was manna to Eelam Tamils for over 7 years? Jaffna voters cannot be hoodwinked.

To sum up, among the two Sinhalese parties, the UNP and SLFP, one should acknowledge that a section of Eelam Tamils (prominently in the Eastern Province) have voted for some UNP candidates for personal reasons and local influence. But the SLFP has been the chief culprit of installing and promoting Tamil toadyism. When its founder S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike split from the UNP in 1951, there were a few Tamils who sided with Bandaranaike for personal reasons. But they parted with him in 1956 on the language issue. For the whole of the 1960s, there were no prominent Eelam Tamils in the SLFP. In May 1970, Sirimavo Bandaranaike installed the first toady, C. Kumarasuriyar, in the cabinet. In 1994, her daughter Chandrika Bandaranaike installed the second toady, Lakshman Kadirgamar, in the cabinet, and in 2000 she invited the third toady, Douglas Devananda, to play second fiddle. With the demise of Kadirgamar in 2005, Devananda was promoted to the first fiddle position. But, Eelam Tamils have never warmed up to his performance of toadyism. Let us enjoy the burlesque show!

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