( 1998 August 05)
That the Buddha smiled is by now a familiar expression with respect to Indian nuclear testing. Recently during the time of the SAARC summit the Prime Minister of the land where the Buddha lived smiled in the land which has become the home of the Buddha Dhamma for the last two thousand three hundred years. The smile of the Indian Prime Minister Shri Atal Behari Vajpaee had nothing to do with nuclear power. According to a Sunday newspaper he had smiled after listening to the TULF delegation.
The delegation of the Tamil United Left Front, which was headed by Mr. M. Sivasithamparam included the TULF parliamentarians Messrs. R. Sampanthan, Joseph Pararajasingham and Neelan Thiruchelvam. According to the Sunday newspaper the delegation "highlighting the plight of the Tamils" had cited the arbitrary arrests of the Tamils. They have also told the Indian Prime Minister that travel to Yapanaya was limited It is learnt that Shri Vajpaee had very attentively listened to them and smiled.
I am not sure as to whether the TULF delegation told the Indian Prime Minister that travel to Yapanaya is limited because of the LTTE activities and that the trains cannot run beyond Vavuniyava as the railway tracks had been removed by the LTTE, and that with or without trains they would not go to Yapanaya as the LTTE is waiting to give them a grand welcome and that being humble servants of the Tamil people they are not interested in such welcomes. They would not have told the Indian Premier that the LTTE recently attacked the Dalada Maligawa nor that only the Tamils are arrested on suspicion as LTTE members not because they are Tamils but due to the fact almost all members of the LTTE happen to be Tamils. The TULF would not have mentioned that the former mayoress of Yapanaya was killed by the LTTE.
My fundamental question is not on what the TULF leaders did not tell Shri Vajpayee. They had no business to tell the Prime Minister of a foreign country, however friendly it may be to interfere in the internal affairs of the country. The Indian Prime Minister did not respond to what the TULF leaders had to tell him and he only politely smiled with them. As the President Ms. Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge has said the Indians know that the problem in the North and the East is an internal problem of Sri Lanka. The Indian leaders would like to forget the past, especially what took place during the Jayawardane era.
The unfortunate and infamous Indo - Sri Lanka agreement was a result of the western oriented foreign policy of the J. R. Jayawardane government. The Indira Gandhi government as well as the Rajiv Gandhi government overreacted to the JRJ foreign policy and made a blunder in nurturing the LTTE as well as the other armed Tamil racist groups. People like Dixit, who acted as if he was the viceroy, contributed much to the suffering.
One is bound to ask the question what would be the position of India if a political party or parties which claim to represent the Muslims in India were to meet with the Prime Minister of Pakistan to air their "grievances". The TULF leaders, Mr. Ashraff and the representatives of a Hindu Association in Yapanaya have also met the Indian Prime Minister over tea. There is no harm in having tea with a foreign dignitary. But to talk internal politics with him and, as some have done, to request him to intervene in our internal affairs is not something that should be overlooked by a sovereign country. To globalise the incident in the context of the "global village", which has the American President as the village headman, would America allow the Spanish speaking people in the U. S. A. to discuss matters arising out of making English the official language in that country with the head of state or government in a Spanish speaking country in the Americas.
Let us remember that the Indo Sri Lanka, or the JR- Rajiv agreement was not only a blunder but something which is defunct now. It is an irony of history that the agreement was not implemented after the so-called Indian Peace Keeping Force left the country. The IPKF discredited in the eyes of the Sri Lankans went back without fulfilling the conditions in the agreement. The moment the so called IPKF left the country the Indo Sri Lanka agreement was made defunct.
The LTTE was not disarmed and the Sri Lankan army was again entrusted with that task. The Sri Lankan army could have done that already, if not for the political interference and pressure brought by the so-called moderate Tamil Parties, the NGOs and the non national lobby in general The weak kneed governments by giving into these pressures have only managed to betray the country.
The so-called moderate Tamil parties do need the LTTE for their political survival. Knowing very well that individually they are under death threat they have to make sure that the LTTE is not defeated militarily. Their strategy of Federalism first and then a separate state can succeed only if the LTTE keeps on fighting for an Eelam in one step. The TULF is then in a position to pose as a moderate party and achieve Eelam after going through an intermediate Federal constitution, say for example, in the form of G. L. - Neelan regional councils. Only with the presence of the LTTE, they can pretend to be moderates and come out with their harmful "alternatives" like provincial councils and regional councils, which will eventually lead to a Federal state.
The "moderates" want the LTTE in order to establish the regional councils or the Federal constitution, come to power in the East and the North and then defeat the LTTE politically. But as long as Prabhakaran is alive these "moderates" can "rule" Yapanaya peninsula only from Kolomba, with the help of the Sri Lankan army. If not for the army they cannot even think of having mayors in Yapanaya.
The TULF and the others cannot ask the Indian Prime Minister to intervene in our internal affairs for the simple reason that Sri Lanka is a sovereign country. The Indo Sri Lanka agreement was a blunder and it is defunct now. People should not be allowed to make capital on blunders and defunct agreements. The only remnant of the disgraceful Indo- Sri Lanka agreement is the contemptuous provincial councils. It was under the Indo Sri Lanka agreement that the thirteenth amendment was drafted which paved way to the provincial councils. However these were established as a solution to the "grievances" of the Tamils and were based on concepts such as Tamil Homeland, Tamil nation and self determination. All these myths have been now exploded.
Tamil leaders themselves now admit that the homeland theory was a hoax. They now claim to have graduated from "grievances" to aspirations. They assert that the provincial councils do not satisfy their aspirations and now demand regional councils keeping to their policy of "little now and more later".
It is useless to discuss the homeland hoax. However I must say a few more words about "grievances" and aspirations. The strategy of "little now and more later" suggests that it is not "grievances" but aspirations that have motivated the Tamil racists to continue with their hostilities. The "grievances" and mythical histories were created in order to justify the aspirations. It is not a matter of graduating from "grievances" to aspirations but a case of Tamil leaders advancing from Ponnambalam aspirations to Prabhakaran aspirations through Chelvanayakam aspirations.
I have described these aspirations earlier but we can conceptualise them better under the headings given above. The architects behind the Ponnambalam aspirations were the three Ponnambalams, namely Messrs. Ponnambalam Ramanathan, Ponnambalam Arunachalam and G. G. Ponnambalam. Ponnambalam aspiration was to see that the Sinhala people did not have a majority at the centre, that is the Legislative Assembly and the State Council. Chelvanayakam aspiration was Federalism first and then Eelam while Prabhakaran aspiration is Eelam and nothing but Eelam.
The Bandaranaike Chelvanayakam pact, the Dudley Chelvanayakam pact, The District Development Councils, the Provincial Councils and the Regional Councils are all steps taken to fulfil the Chelvanayakam aspiration with the strategy of "little now and more later". The memorandum sent by the TULF to Shri Rajiv Gandhi falls within this scheme. The governments of the Gandhis depended on the myths created by the Chelvanayakam aspiration to teach a lesson to the JRJ government.
The Indian government now understands the folly of their past policy on Sri Lanka and appears to be determined to stay away from the internal affairs of the country. It is in the interests of both India and Sri Lanka that Shri Vajpaee should continue to smile whenever he meets the Tamil leaders over tea.