The Tamil nationalist demand for autonomy has therefore never been indifferent to the problems of development but has always in part been justified as a means to development on the basis that Sinhala majoritarian rule was intentionally impoverishing the Tamil-speaking peoples. The pro-government Tamil parties that stood at the election therefore all accepted the legitimacy of Tamil nationalist grievances but pledged that cooperation with the state would result in economic benefits, which, as some argued, would be a precursor to a resolution of the political conflict.
Ankajan Ramanathan, the successful Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) candidate in Jaffna even played LTTE songs at a past election rally – blurring the lines between what’s seen as pro-state and pro-Tamil nationalist. But the extent to which the new pro-government Tamil parliamentarians can actually deliver material improvements to their constituents’ lives remains to be seen, with severe restrictions on resources that can be distributed as patronage or “development”. The government has already excluded Tamil areas from the scheme to provide employment to deprived families and unemployed graduates.