COLOMBO: Sri Lankan Tamils are taking AIADMK chief J.Jayalalithaa’s electoral promise to help them secure a “separate Tamil Eelam” with a pinch of salt. They see the lofty declaration about Eelam in her manifesto as a grand political ploy to silence her Tamil nationalist rivals.
However, the Lankan Tamils appreciate her bold steps to highlight their plight and presently want her to take “constructive” steps to get New Delhi to help secure for them a federal constitution with power devolved to the Tamil-majority areas.
M.A.Sumanthiran, MP and spokesman of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), pointed out that the Lankan Tamils no longer demand a separate Tamil Eelam, but want a political solution in line with their expressed aspirations within a united and undivided Sri Lanka.
“However, we see Jayalalithaa’s demand as an expression of the genuine and emotional support of the people of Tamil Nadu for the Lankan Tamil cause. We hope that she will be able to tweak it in a constructive way to help promote the Tamils’ cause in line with their aspirations,” Sumanthiran told Express.
Suresh Premachandran, leader of the Eelam Peoples’ Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF), said that Jayalalithaa’s declamation on Tamil Eelam stemmed from a “correct” understanding of the Lankan situation, wherein successive governments have failed to meet the just demands of the Tamil minority.
“However, even if she cannot deliver on the electoral promise, she should at least put pressure on New Delhi to put pressure on Colombo to yield to the Tamils’ longstanding demand for federalism with devolution of power,” Premachandran said.
Selvam Adaikalanathan, MP and chief of Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization (TELO), said that the declaration of an intent to help secure Eelam would nudge Colombo to realize the gravity of the situation and meet the Tamils half way by giving them a federal constitution.
“Her stand could be taken as a pressure tactic,” Adaikalanathan said.
Mano Ganeshan, cabinet minister and leader of the Tamil Progressive Alliance (TPA), said that one should not take “seriously” what was said in the heat of an election campaign.
“What is to be noted is that Jayalalithaa has not uttered a word on the Lankan question after winning the elections” Ganeshan said.
V.Thanabalasingham, Editor-in-Chief of Thinakkural said that Jayalalithaa’s election manifesto and the resolutions she moved in the State Assembly on the Lankan Tamil issue were primarily meant to outdo and silence the pro-Eelam lobby in her state. Nobody could do more, he pointed out.
“However, given the changed geo-political realities and New Delhi’s close ties with Colombo, there is little or no likelihood of Jayalalithaa’s being able to change India’s Lanka policy,” Thanabalasingham asserted.
In an editorial on Monday, Tamil daily Virakesari said that Jayalalithaa should take into account the realities in Lankan Tamil politics, with the main political outfit, Tamil National Alliance, giving up full independence and fighting for federalism instead.
The TN Chief Minister should take “constructive steps” to see that New Delhi gets Colombo to meet the existing demands of the Tamils, Virakesari said. And she should realize that nothing can be done in Lanka without New Delhi’s wanting it, the paper added.