TamilWeek, Nov 27 - Dec 3, 2005
After the Presidential Elections: A wake-up call to all!


By Sathya

The outcome of the Presidential Election with all the excitement and
disappointments of a one-day match is in the opinion of Sathya a wake up call to
all, including Sathya whose hibernation was once again rudely disturbed.

Firstly, it was a wake up to the Tamil People. It was indeed a cruel irony that their
self-proclaimed “sole representative” was bent on defeating Ranil
Wickremesinghe, the Presidential candidate that the vast majority of the Tamil
people wanted to see emerge as the victor! Of course, it was not the love for
Ranil, but the fear of the Sinhala hardliners arrayed behind Mahinda Rajapakse
that propelled the Tamil voters in Ranil’s direction.

Ultimately, the Tamil people living in areas under the direct military-intelligence
and propaganda control of the LTTE were disenfranchised by the LTTE. It was
not a boycott by the Tamil people. It was instead a boycott call by the LTTE
backed by coercion, intimidation and force. So how come that the Tamil people
behaved in a manner that was diametrically opposed to that of their “sole
representative”, as evidenced by their preference when they came out in their
numbers and voted for Ranil in areas where the Tigers could not directly and
physically enforce their control? Well, that is the question that the LTTE will have
to ponder over.

Meanwhile, the decision of the LTTE to disenfranchise the Tamil voter at this
Presidential Election (in contrast to the creation of phantom voters at the last
General Elections!) could well be the third historical blunder of the LTTE – the
other two historical blunders being the expulsion of the Muslim people from the
“traditional Tamil homeland” compelling the Muslim people to distance themselves
from the Tamil national struggle and the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi which
compelled India to list the LTTE supremo and his intelligence chief as the most
wanted criminals in India.

If the LTTE reckoned that the International Community would empathise with it if
Mahinda Rajapakse is elected with the support of Sinhala hardliners, they are in
for another rude shock which is bound to follow the earlier shock treatment meted
out by the European Union by imposing a travel ban on LTTE delegations.

If Anton Balasingham, Thamilselvan or LTTE’s international lobbyists were to
complain to the West about the “hardliners” in Colombo, they are bound to be
admonished for not allowing the people that they claim to “solely” represent to
vote and ensure a victory for Ranil Wickremesinghe, their favoured candidate.

The writing is already on the wall with the comment by John Cushnahan, EUs
Head of the Election Monitoring Mission at the media briefing following the
elections that he would take up LTTE “discriminatory” and “unacceptable”
behaviour with the Council of the European Union.The second wake up call is to
Ranil Wickremisnghe. His policy of appeasement of the LTTE is not winning him
any votes amongst broad sections of the Sinhala people as well as the Muslim
people – not to mention the remnants as well as the fledgling Tamil democratic
alternatives to the LTTE. Further, the emphasis on negative peace (i.e. the mere
absence of war) with a so-called international security net to bail him out if things
go wrong and the notion of an agreement only with the LTTE, with the SLFP being
made a fait accompli is not exactly firing the imagination of the people in the South.

Ranil would also have realised that this is not the first time that the Tiger bit the
hand that fed it. It is imperative that Ranil should now put into practice his
campaign preachings about removing the peace process from partisan politics
and to extend support to Mahinda Rajapakse’s fresh approach to the peace
process based on inclusivity and human rights that goes beyond a mere “deal”
between the Government of the day and the LTTE.

The third wake up call is to Mahinda Rajapakse. He must put into practice and in
deed his stirring words following the taking of oaths that he no longer represents
his voters and allies, but all sections of the Sri Lanka society. He can neither
pursue the peace process, manage a mixed economy aimed at equitable growth
or for that matter govern the country if he allows himself to be held hostage to the
forces of ethnic and religious extremism and obscurantism in the south.

He has to put into practice and deed his words following the taking of oaths
ceremony that he stands for an honourable peace for all the Peoples of Sri
Lanka. While inclusivity in the peace process was sorely lacking in the manner in
which it was being managed by Norway, LTTE and the Government of the day
since the signing of the ceasefire agreement, Mahinda Rajapakse should
recognize that once the process of consultations aimed at a broad consensus is
advanced, there will come a time when the principle of “sufficient” consensus may
have to be put into place based on the principles of democracy, secularism,
pluralism. It is a consensus based on these principles that would ensure
sustainability and equality.

The fourth wake up call is to the JVP. The JVP must realize that democracy,
devolution and development are inseparably linked and that one cannot be
advanced without the other.

In fact power-sharing and resource-sharing could well be the key link between
democracy and development and is imperative particularly in a multi-ethnic, multi-
religious and multi-cultural country like Sri Lanka. Diversity and differentiation
rather than uniformity and homogeneity is the essence of Marxist ideology and
philosophy. It is incumbent on the JVP, if it is truly a vanguard of the working
people and the oppressed masses as it perceives itself to be, to take forward the
cry of devolution rather than dismiss it as being archaic and obsolete.

In this regard, statements by the JVP during the election campaign that if the
LTTE were to give up its demand for a separate state then the South would be
prepared to go beyond a unitary State is welcome and could well be the basis for
future negotiations. The responsibility now lies with the JVP as the vanguard of
the working people to go before the people with that message rather than wait for
a referendum and then call on the people to vote against devolution.

The role of a vanguard Marxist party (as the JVP perceives itself to be) is to raise
the level of mass consciousness, rather than to get bogged down in false
consciousness.

The fifth wake up call is to the religious organizations which are bent on playing
politics. Every religion has its essentials and non-essentials. While the essentials
of all religions are the same, it is the non-essentials like rites, rituals, and the
institutionalization of religion with their personality cults that divide Peoples along
religious lines.

State patronage to one religion in a multi-religious society leads to the alienation
of other religions, just as much as the proselytizing based on global financial
networks is the worst form of intolerance and threat to religious freedom and
harmony between religions. The despicable manner in which religious
organizations and personalities dabbled in politics during the election campaign is
a wake up call to the people who espouse those religions to be vigilant against
self-proclaimed messengers and servants of God. The final wake up call is of
course to Sathya to stop throwing brickbats at others and to start looking inwards
into the chasm that governs word and deed of Colombo-based “civil” society to
which he belongs! More on this at an “appropriate” time!
[DailyMirror]
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