The India-Sri Lanka Accord, which was signed with high hopes on July 29, 1987, is now under threat. Its main feature, a system of devolution of power to the provinces currently enshrined in the 13th Amendment (13A) of the Lankan constitution, is on the chopping block. A government-backed Sinhalese movement is seeking the abolition or the drastic pruning of 13A, thus threatening to nullify the Accord itself.
The movement against 13A and the Accord is based on the belief that they were an Indian imposition backed by armed might.
But, in fact, Lanka had contributed to the Accord substantially. Its basic features were the result of a series of talks held from August 1985 to December 1986 between the Sri Lankan and Indian governments in consultation with the moderate Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF).
Way back in 1940, the State Council (as the legislature was known in British-ruled Ceylon) had accepted the Donoughmore Commission’s recommendation to set up elected Provincial Councils (PCs) to solve the ethnic question. But acceptance did not lead to implementation.
However, in 1955, after Ceylon became independent, the Choksy Commission recommended Regional Councils. In 1957, the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam Pact envisaged elected Regional Councils.
But Bandaranaike reneged on the agreement because it ran into a Sinhalese political storm.