By Chaminda Weerawardhana –
Rajavarothiam Sampanthan MP (RS) has been appointed as the Leader of the Opposition of the Eighth Parliament of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. MP because 1970, RS also deserves the title ‘Father of the Home’. Even analysts not usually sympathetic to the political ideology of Tamil self-determination concur that RS has a track record of acting with decorum and dignity in debate. This also applies to his celebration colleagues, who, unlike several a Sinhalese and Moor MP, conduct themselves gracefully inside and outdoors Parliament.
TNA: the strongest ‘Tamil’ voice?
Because the War’s end, the RS-led TNA has been successful at each and each election held in the two provinces. The absence of credible political alternatives, other than the EPDP that tarnished its reputation by way of its [in Tamil eyes] unholy alliance with the Rajapaksa regime, UNP’s Vijayakala Maheswaran issue in Jaffna and the SLMC in the East, there is no political movement in the two provinces that can equal, in any substantial terms, the TNA’s electoral strength, the reasons for which ought to form the subject of a separate article.
Some Sinhala nationalists query RS’s positions on the rights of his community, his emphasis on ensuring the Tamils’ political aspirations and proper to live as equal citizens. That RS’s voice on the rights of his people wants to be heard, respected and honoured is a offered. It is the principal signifies by way of which, post-war, the dignity of Tamil society can be restored and much more importantly, the Tamils’ position as full-fledged citizens of Sri Lanka can be enhanced and enlivened. These becoming elected to Parliament by Tamil voters have every correct to raise issues that concern their voters, constituencies and electoral districts.
New duty of ‘national’ relevance?
For the very first time in his political profession, RS has been granted a position of national relevance inside the legislature. His parliamentary responsibilities have been doubly redoubled overnight, going way beyond these of an MP representing a certain district, and a celebration leader representing a offered demographic. From now on, RS has the duty of the complete Parliamentary Opposition upon his shoulders. As he described to the media on the way out of the Property quickly following becoming appointed Opposition Leader, he is completely conscious of the nature of his new role, and has the prospective to perform properly.
RS, this writer believes, is also competent to identify the most advisable forward method, when reconciling his function as the ‘leader’ representing his ethnic community in parliament, and his national function as Opposition Leader. Reflecting along that line, the most advisable path appears to be that of upholding a ‘policy-based’ method, strongly raising troubles affecting the day-to-day lives of the folks of the Northern and Eastern Provinces, even though simultaneously juxtaposing these with a central focus on problems of national concern.
TNA and JVP: troubled (& ‘shared’) legacies?
Sinhala nationalist components in national politics despise each TNA and JVP. Concerning the latter, they continuously evoke that party’s armed resistance of 1971 and particularly 1988-89. The TNA is branded as obtaining been pro-LTTE – the ultimate blasphemy in Sinhala nationalist eyes.
As the second half of the post-war decade unfolds, it is essential for Sri Lankans to collectively reflect upon the fundamental motives that prompted young individuals (from each Sinhalese and Tamil communities) to take up arms and resort to violence against the Sri Lankan state.
In the case of the Sinhalese, key contentious concerns involved class pressures, socioeconomic disparities, lack of possibilities and the grossly unequal distribution of resources. These concerns also concerned Tamil youth, who, in addition, had been ethnically catalogued through university entrance regulations, issues of political representation, difficulties of working out their fundamental civic rights, as nicely as ethnicity and language-primarily based discrimination. For numerous Tamil youth (whose militant outfits sooner or later became the Colombo government’s worst nightmares), discontent also stemmed from discrimination from within the Tamil neighborhood, its class, and very especially caste hierarchies. Therefore their intense anguish at those sophisticated, educated, English-speaking, liberal and more typically than not higher caste Tamil intellectuals and politicos who, in their eyes, had been of an uptight disposition, and had been intent upon ‘preaching’ them – the lesser beings – on conciliatory middle paths and the vices of violent resistance.
TNA: from ethnic politics to national politics?
The TNA and the LTTE are two incredibly different entities, and anyone creating a correlation in between them (the ‘TNA is pro-LTTE’ argument) is only making a display of political and sociocultural illiteracy. In the course of the LTTE’s heyday, as Tamil representatives in the national legislature, the TNA could surely have upheld a self-determination-based discourse, for which they can’t be blamed. Today, the TNA is in the procedure of – and in fairness has been significantly effective at – locating its pleine place in post-war Sri Lankan politics. The TNA has expressed its commitment to a united Sri Lankan state, and in guaranteeing the rights of Tamils inside that framework. Apart from its ‘men of the people’, such as Mavai Senathirajah MP, the TNA has equipped itself with professionals such as Messrs Sumanthiran and Vigneswaran, and upon being elevated to a national-level function, has expressed a commitment to uphold that role’s ‘national’ dimension to the fullest.
TNA and JVP: possibilities of functioning collectively?
The Eighth Parliament gives a unique chance for the TNA and the JVP, the two principal opposition parties, to start a cordial and open-minded dialogue, and perform towards sharing shadow cabinet responsibilities. The JVP has a golden chance to stand by its regularly repeated commitment to national unity and inter-ethnic coexistence. The TNA has a golden opportunity to perform with a national-level party that, regardless of its modest size, occupies a decisive position in the polity, and is composed of educated young leaders, all of them representing not Colombo’s privileged high-tea cliques, but the larger Sinhala (and fairly often Buddhist) neighborhood. The JVP’s composition and inclusivity could also send a crucial message to the TNA, on the importance of going beyond Vellalar gentlemen’s politics, to a political strategy that far better accommodates and represents the Tamil social spectrum, and performs towards elevated respect for parity.
To the cynical observer, some of the aforementioned observations may possibly appear to be somewhat devoid of realism.
However, inventive thinking is the crucial path forward for each the TNA and the JVP, to say the least.