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TNA and Ranil on the Right Side of Argument, Wrong Side of History

TNA and Ranil on the Right Side of Argument, Wrong Side of History

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Published by: Thavam on Jul 12, 2013
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"Until the lion has a historian of his own, the tale of the hunt willalways glorify the hunter."– African ProverbSpeaking at a Vipakshaye Virodaya press conference in Colombo on Sunday, 7 June2013, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran asserted theParliamentary Select Committee (PSC) appointed to look into any changes to the 13th Amendment to the Constitution is not a Parliamentary Select Committee at all, butactually a 'President's Select Committee.' He stated the idea for a PSC to find a solutionto the national issue was formulated in September 2011 during bilateral discussions between the TNA and the government and that it was pushed 'in-between' talks.He further elaborated the government asked the TNA to put aside the discussions and join the parliamentary committee instead, with the assurance that agreements they had already reached during the talks would be taken to the PSC. He stated that after anagreement was reached between the President and the leader of the TNA on conditionsfor both to participate in the PSC, the government went back on its word, exited the bilateral discussions and asked the TNA to just attend the parliamentary committee.Sumanthiran said, that was the reason the TNA did not attend the PSC, and that thismatter was even raised in Parliament by the Opposition Leader. "Now after two yearshave passed they are saying the Parliamentary Select Committee is being established
and are asking us to join it," he said. "We are not that stupid to attend such a selectcommittee just shaking our hands."The only negative aspect of the whole press conference was the very premise on whichit was held. Vipakshaye Virodaya is a farcical front that is being utilized by its mainplayer, Ranil Wickremesinghe, the Leader of the Opposition and the United NationalParty (UNP), for his own insular reasons. It is a platform, which is being used by theUNP leader to show the country that he is not alone in his fight against thegovernment. But in his mad rush to search a national stage, Ranil does not seem tocare that he is being identified and teamed up with those who have been totally discarded by the electorate. Other than the UNP itself and the TNA, there is no Vipakshaya in the truest sense of the word. Members of all other factions that gatheron this platform could hardly fill two buses today.Timing is criticalGood arguments have to be brought out on good platforms and at good times. Timingas well as placing is very critical in political calculations in today's world. And aboveall, credibility of those who argue must stand above the rest. Sumanthiran's efforts would surely fail for those reasons alone. Wickremesinghe, by aligning himself withthe TNA and other three-wheeler party leaders is not only lending this 'commonplatform' a sense of desperation and despair, he is jeopardizing the electoral chances of his own Party, the UNP, by alienating it from the Sinhalese Buddhist majority of thecountry. This imprudent tactic so adopted by the UNP leader has cost the Party sodearly and the growing sense of dissatisfaction towards it has been shown in successiveelection results over the last couple of decades. Political leaders must have the capacity and foresight to engage in the right kind of politicking at the right time and the rightplace. In this sphere, Wickremesinghe has shown a remarkable deficiency. Not only has he displayed that he does not have the capacity to lead from the front, he has gonea couple of steps further and shown that he even doesn't care. That is a very patheticsituation for a political party such as the United National Party which over its entire
history has exhibited extraordinary powers of resiliency and resistance. Yet, taken in the context of the current political background, one can understand theunfortunate position that the UNP has to adopt, especially with regard to theThirteenth Amendment and its proposed alterations. But the examples are aplenty andRanil could have learnt, if he had the desire and capacity, from his Uncle JR himself. When the Lanka Sama Samaja Party brought a no-confidence motion in Parliament inthe mid-nineteen seventies, J.R. Jayewardene adopted a very unorthodox strategy inmanoeuvring his meagre number of seventies MPs to speak one language inParliament and vote in a diametrically opposite way, thereby confusing the thenSirimavo Bandaranaike Government as well as the whole of the Opposition-politics.MP Sumanthiran's basic argument on the validity and legitimacy of the Parliamentary PSC is sound and solid. Fundamentally, this is the same argument that SirPonnambalam Ramanathan professed in 1931 when the British colonial powersgranted Universal Franchise to then Ceylon: Sinhalese majoritarian rule will crush allaspirations of the Tamils and continue a 'rule of dominance' amounting to totalsubjugation of the minority ethnic group in the North and East. Sir Ponnambalamforesaw what was to come and his vocal eloquent opposition was recorded in SriLanka's pre-Independence history as a landmark position taken by the Tamil leaders of the time.That's all history now. Ever since Independence, the Tamil cause that had beenadvocated by their various political leaders, from G. G. Ponnambalam, S.J.V.Chelvanayagam, A. Amirthalingam and now R. Sampanthan, have been based ondevolution of political power to the regions and the unit of devolution has now assumed even a larger area – a province as opposed to a district and with land andpolice powers.Material conditions

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