By Ananth Palakidnar
Tamil Civil Society Forum (TCSF) Spokesman Guruparan Kumaravadivel commenting on the outcome of the Lankan Presidential poll to India’s The Hindu newspaper, has stated since the people in the North are skeptical about the new the President, Maithripala Sirisena, delivering on Tamil demands, the Tamil vote was against Rajapaksa and not an endorsement of Maithripala Sirisena.
The statement by the TCSF Spokesman was somewhat correct to a certain extent as on the polling day on Thursday (8), the voting in the Jaffna Peninsula was lousy in the morning and there were even intimidations in certain areas of the peninsula.
A grenade was thrown at a deserted house in the area, despite the stringent security measures adopted by the Elections Department Officials and the police personnel to ensure a trouble free poll in the North.
However, the people in the North without leaving any room for intimidation had safe guarded their voting right and used their ballots to overthrow the Rajapaksa regime.
The Tamil National Alliance announced its much awaited decision to support Maithripala Sirisena in the morning on the very day he held his first Jaffna election rally, 30 December. However, the TNA, despite its decision to support the new Maithripala Sirisena at the presidential poll, the alliance had gone all out to emphasize on the voters in the North and East the importance of taking part in the polling. Therefore, the TNA’s door to door campaign in the North and East had turned out magnificently with the voters in the two provinces becoming the ‘king makers’.
Realizing the Presidential poll boycott by the North and East voters in year 2005, on the insistence of the LTTE, which had allowed Mahinda Rajapaksa to become the President, the TNA was all out to ensure enthusiastic voting taking place in the North and East.
Before taking its decision to support
Maithripala Sirisena, the TNA had even held a closed door meeting with him to discuss its political stance and its future expectations.
However, since both presidential candidates didn’t mention anything on addressing the fundamental political issues as well as the humanitarian issues, the Tamil voters were sceptical about Sirisena and on the other hand they were also extremely worried that the return of Mahinda Rajapaksa would aggravate their problems further.
Therefore, not only the Tamil Civil Society Forum, but even the Jaffna University students’ Union, which comprises the student community that grew up during the peak period of the turbulent days, in a statement had said that the election would not change the fate of the Tamils.
The Jaffna University Students’ Union released its statement on 5 January, two days prior to the Presidential polls. “The Lankan Presidential poll on 8 January will no way help to bring about a permanent political solution for the Tamils,” the statement said.
The same view was even shared by the Tamil Civil Society Forum (TCSF), which comprises professionals, academics, political analysts and the representatives from the business community.
The TCSF Spokesman Guruparan Kumaravadivel in his statement to the Chennai Hindu said: “The Tamil people are skeptical about Sirisena delivering on any of the key Tamil demands – a political solution to the ethnic conflict beyond the unitary State, accountability for crimes committed during the war, demilitarization, release of Tamil political detainees, return of land taken over by the military and so on. Sirisena during the campaign had taken positions contrary to Tamil interests.”
Despite mentioning that it has no faith in the election with the attention paid to the manifestos of both candidates, the Jaffna University Student Union (JUSU) had emphasized that the Northern voters should take part in the polls and warned that their absence would allow the unscrupulous elements to tamper with the votes.
The statement of the JUSU said: “We do not have a drop of faith that this election will bring about a permanent political solution for us, the Tamil people since both of the main candidates are proponents of Sinhala Buddhist chauvinism.”
“Today, in this country, the Tamil people are living in a dark age, without good, stable political leadership, without freedom, and without rights,” the Union added.
“Our union severely condemns those seeking political gain by manipulating our people and youths with promises of money and job opportunities during election time,” JUSU added.
Criticizing the Sri Lankan State’s failure to come forward to find a permanent political solution for Tamils, even five years after the end of the war, the JUSU also condemned the economic attacks and the “threats to the existence and identity” of the Tamil people, through such State activities as colonization and land-grabs, as well as “unnecessary military interference.”
Warning that unused votes could be tampered with, the Union urged people to exercise their democratic right to vote, while stressing that the Tamil people must think carefully about how to cast their vote.
“The University Students’ Union will not waver from the principles of the Tamil nation, self-determination and self-rule, and will always give voice to the rights of the Tamil people,” the statement concluded.
Therefore, the statements of the Tamil Civil Society Forum (TCSF) and the Jaffna University Students Union have made to read the pulse of the Northerners despite their role as ‘king makers’ in the Presidential polls.
Expressing his views on the outcome of the presidential poll, the TNA leader R. Sampanthan, while extending his greetings to the new President, by attending his swearing-in ceremony in person at the Independence Square, in a statement to the media has said that since the North and East voters had been the prime factor in deciding the victory of President Maithripala Sirisena, he should give priority tos settling their political and the post-war humanitarian problems.
E.R. Thiruchelvam, a retired teacher from the Jaffna Hindu College, which is the Old school of Justice K. Sripavan, before whom the new President, Maithripala Sirisena was sworn in as President, said that the new President would have missed out on the issues with regard to the political aspirations of the minorities in the North and East in his manifesto, but he should correct himself and stand by the faith placed on him by the people who ensured his victory at the election.
Therefore, the statements of the Tamil Civil Society Forum (TCSF) and the Jaffna University Students Union have made to read the pulse of the Northerners despite their role as ‘ king makers’ in the Presidential polls.