Sri Lankan Tamil issue no longer relevant in Tamil Nadu?

With the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Party winning 145 out of 225 seats, Rajapaksa is set to become PM for a second time.

Published: 08th August 2020 04:54 AM  |   Last Updated: 08th August 2020 11:49 AM   |  A+A-

Sri Lanka new PM Mahinda Rajapaksa

Sri Lanka PM Mahinda Rajapaksa (Photo | AP)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: None of the political parties in the State has issued any statement on the recent Sri Lankan Parliament elections in which incumbent Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa's party registered a landslide victory.

With the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Party (SLPP) has won 145 seats of 225 seats in the parliament, the Mahinda Rajapaksa set to become Prime Minister of Sri Lanka second time. Rajapaksa’s younger brother Gotabaya Rajapaksa was elected President of Sri Lanka in August last year.

Mahinda Rajapaksa served as President of Sri Lanka between 2005 and 2015. Many international human rights organizations have accused the Sri Lankan army under Rajapaksa’s government for killing thousands of Tamil civilians during the civil war against LTTE in 2009. With the death of LTTE supremo V Prabhakaran, the civil war which commenced in 1983 came to an end in the island nation.

Since then, the political parties in the State have been maintaining a stoic silence on Tamils issue. In August last year, when Gotabaya Rajapaksa, former defense secretary who  led the civil war in 2009 elected President of Sri Lanka major political parties remained silent, except MDMK and PMK.  

Political observers and activists said the issue is being forgotten and its relevance to State politics is becoming questionable.  

'Tharasu' Shyam,  political commentator said political parties can survive with the issues that are alive and has influence on the voters.

He says, "We must admit that the political space for Lankan Tamils issue is diminishing every day. Between 1983 and 1990, a large population of the State had a huge sympathy for Lankan Tamils. However, the significance of issue started diminishing with the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 and it remained non-electoral issue since then. Even after the death of Prabhakaran in 2009, the issue hardly had any impact in 2011 elections."

However,  Anti-nuclear activist and Chief of Pachai Tamizhagam party S P Udayakumar opined that no political party in the State has got genuine interest in the issue and blamed the activists for being shortsighted in their approach.

"Tamil intellectuals and civil society members should self introspect before pointing fingers against political parties or governments. None of the civil society members had any long term strategy to deal with this issue methodically,” Udayakumar says.

"Political parties’ responses appeared like knee-jerk reactions. We should have gained support of civil societies outside Tamil Nadu. In-spite of repeated suggestions, no concerted efforts taken by stakeholders in India or abroad to institutionalise activism in order to bring logical conclusion on this issue. An institution should have been set up to monitor the policy changes of military, government and political parties in Sri Lanka." He added that a few political leaders are only using the charisma of Prabharakan to woo the youth in order to build their own image.

Professor Ramu Manivannan of University of Madras said various issues of the Sri Lankan Tamils such as domestic prisons, lands and the missing persons will get addressed since the international voice will be more affirmative now.

"However, Tamils cannot expect justice from the government which is headed by the perpetrators who are very architects of the entire issue," Ramu Manivannan says.

He said the results are more or less a consolidation of power by one family. "This will have many serious implications as there won't be any pluralism in the government.  The government also doesn't subscribe to human rights which will result in confrontation with international bodies."

Stating that India has lost its foreign policy in Sri Lanka long ago, Manivannan added that China will have greater influence and presence in the island nation. "The Lankan government has to pay huge debts annually and it can be bailed out only by China."


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