COLOMBO: There appears to be an attempt by some political parties to whip up an India-sentiment among the Tamils of Sri Lanka’s Northern Province in the run up to the August 17 parliamentary elections with the aim of ending the dominance of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) which is perceived to be pro-India.
Authoritative sources told Express that this is being done by two pro-Tamil Tiger parties, the Tamil National Peoples’ Front (TNPF) led by Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, and the Crusaders For Democracy (CFD) led by Nadesapillai Vithyatharan.
The sources pointed out that these two parties had launched their election manifestos not only to enunciate their political plans but to revive memories of the “anti-Tamil” actions of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) when it was deployed in the Northern and Eastern Provinces from 1987 to 1990.
The TNPF launched its manifesto on August 2 at Valvettithurai, the hometown of LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran. It was on August 2, 1989, that 63 Tamil civilians were killed by the IPKF in reprisal for an ambush by the LTTE. TNPF cadres paid floral tributes at a site of the massacre and party chief Gajendrakumar made a scathing attack on the IPKF.
Similarly, the CFD released its manifesto at the site of the “fast unto death” of LTTE cadre Thileepan at Nallur in 1987. The LTTE had blamed India for not using its powers under the India-Sri Lanka Accord to force the Lankan government to accede to its demands. The LTTE used Thileepan’s death to whip up anti-Indian and anti-IPKF sentiments among the Tamils.
Sources suspect that the Mahinda Rajapaksa faction of the United Peoples’ Freedom Alliance (UPFA), along with a pro-LTTE section of the Tamil Diaspora, is behind the anti-Indian actions of the TNPF and CFD. The objective appears to be to weaken the TNA.
If the TNA’s representation in the post-election parliament is reduced, the rival United National Front for Good Governance (UNFGG) will find it difficult to form a government in case the polls throw up a hung parliament.
The pro-LTTE Diaspora, resident in the US, UK and Europe, has always been interested in weakening the TNA because it considers the latter to be pro-Indian.
It is suspected that the Northern Province Chief Minister C.V.Wigneswaran is tacitly supporting the TNPF. Wigneswaran is believed to have met pro-LTTE elements during his recent visit to the US and UK. Significantly he has said that he will be neutral in the elections, though he is a member of the TNA.