NPC election: Results in retrospect by Udaya Gammanpila (JHU)
The much anticipated Northern Provincial Council (NPC) election is now over. People have different opinions about the results, looking at them from different perspectives. The most salient feature of the election results is the landslide victory recorded by the Tamil National Alliance (TNA).
Some were dismayed by the results. However, The Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) correctly predicted, not only the massive victory of the TNA but also the contents of its manifesto, several months ago. We had several reasons for our prediction
First, the wounds in the minds of the Northerners remain unhealed. During the war, our forces killed tens of thousands of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) cadres and wounded more or less the same number. For us, the LTTE were ruthless terrorists. For them, they were their own brothers, sons, relations, neighbours and friends. It is human nature to overlook the sinful acts of loved ones. They may be happy about the end of the war. However, they are angry with the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) for the loss of their loved ones.
We have given the Northerners almost everything they lost during the war. In fact, they have received more than what they had. However, we cannot give back the lost lives and time. Only time can heal these deep wounds. Hence, it would be impossible for the UPFA to win elections in the North in the near future.
Second, the TNA enjoyed a political monopoly in the North with the blessing of the LTTE during the war. In fact, the TNA acted as the political wing of the LTTE, under the patronage of S.P. Thamilselvan, the Political Head of the LTTE. Pre 2009, the media regularly carried reports on Thamilselvan summoning the TNA leadership to Kilinochchi to give instructions on its political activities. The LTTE, while killing the activists of other political parties, protected and supported the members of the TNA. Hence, no other party including the UPFA, JVP and UNP has a deep rooted network in the North similar to the grassroots network of the TNA.
Third, the aspirations and conduct of the Tamils Diaspora have made a significant impact on the political landscape in the North. Northerners are struggling to restore their lives to pre-war conditions by way of building houses and finding livelihoods. Tamils abroad still dream about establishing a Tamil Eelam and pursuing the cause while enjoying luxurious lifestyles in Western countries. They still have the confidence in Tamil Eelam because of the support they receive from the Western countries. They control both the voters and the political parties in the North, because the latter are financially dependent on them. While on the one hand providing the necessary funds for the TNA, on the other, many are the bread winners of the Northern families, as most of the Northerners depend on the remittance sent by kith living overseas their survival. Hence, the brother or sister in the West has become more influential in household decisions than the father, the tradition leader of the household. After sending funds to the TNA to realize their dream, they instruct the family members to support the TNA.
Resuming Eelam struggle
Fourth, Tamils have started dreaming about Tamil Eelam again because of the support from the Western countries for their cause. Only 23% of Jaffna voters cast their votes at the Parliamentary elections held in 2010. It increased three folds at the Provincial Council elections. Although the TNA was able to secure only 44% of the votes at the parliamentary elections, it was increased to 84% at the Provincial Council elections. In contrast, the vote bank of the UPFA has declined to 14% from 32% during these two elections.
Tamils decided to resume their struggle for a separate state because of the unbelievable support they are receiving from the West. Navi Pillay’s visit to Jaffna and her statements thereafter became moral boosters for this struggle. Hence, their mindset is now totally different from what it was in 2010. That is why Tamils have rejected the development offered by the UPFA and flocked around the TNA to win ‘self-determination’.
The JHU did not merely predict the massive victory of the TNA; we went further and predicted that they would abuse the powers of the Provincial Councils for the separatist agenda. That is why we urged the government to repeal the dangerous powers in the Provincial Council System, such as lands and police before holding elections. Unfortunately, the government did not listen to us. As a result, repealing such dangerous provisions have now become near impossible task.
Let us assume a scenario of gifting a dangerous toy to a kid. After realizing the danger, we now need to take this back. If we take it back before the kid starts playing with it, there won’t be a big issue. However, if we grab the toy, when he is plays with it, he will put up a fight, cry and earn the sympathy of the people around. Everybody would ask us to give the toy back to the kid. A similar scenario will arise, if we attempt to repeal the land and police powers when the NPC starts using these powers.
Foreseeing the above scenario, in May 2013, we proposed five amendments to the Constitution, to be made before the elections. Two out of them were accepted and approved by both government party leaders and the Cabinet of Ministers. Unfortunately, it was thereafter referred to a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) without being tabled in Parliament. At the very first meeting of the PSC, the JHU informed that five proposals of the JHU should be discussed and the stand of the Committee should be reported to Parliament before the Provincial Council elections. Although the PSC agreed to the condition, it did not follow through. Hence, the JHU decided to withdraw from the PSC on 9 September, with the intention of pressurizing the PSC to submit the interim report as agreed. However, that attempt has proved futile.
Later is better than never. Hence, the government should take immediate steps to repeal the dangerous provisions in the Provincial Council System. It may be late but still not too late