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MR in tactical diplomacy with Karunanidhi

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 Secondly, the call was made in an interview given by President Rajapaksa to a popular Tamil language newspaper published in South India, wherein he also made it clear that he was even ready to discuss the Lankan devolution issue with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Karunanidhi

In an interview with a South Indian Tamil newspaper, President Rajapaksa last week made a renewed call on Prabhakaran to lay down arms and come for peace negotiations. If we recall the past, this could have been the hundredth such call for peace made by various successive Sri Lankan leaders. None, except Rajapaksa himself, would know whether it was a genuine call or a political ploy. However, this time it assumes special significance because of the context in which it was made.

Firstly, it was made at a critical stage of the war against separatism and terrorism when security forces have made significant advances capturing many strategic Tiger strong holds from Mavillaru to Pooneryn. The plea also came at a time when the whole country, including those who were cynical of the ability of the government forces to defeat the LTTE, are very supportive of ongoing military action.

Secondly, the call was made in an interview given by President Rajapaksa to a popular Tamil language newspaper published in South India, wherein he also made it clear that he was even ready to discuss the Lankan devolution issue with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Karunanidhi.

This call, made at the door step of Karunanidhi, is a clever diplomatic move which the popular South Indian leadership will find difficult to ignore. It is certainly bad news for the LTTE leadership, who does not believe in democracy or public opinion.
However, the big issue is that Prabhakaran is a wanted man in India in connection with the murder of Rajiv Gandhi. Found guilty by both Sri Lankan and Indian courts, he is in no mood to lay down arms or accept democracy as a way of life. He is also threatened by his armed rivals including Karuna and Pillaiyan.

Lack of a true rep
This leads to the question as to whom to devolve power and whom to negotiate with. If the Sri Lankan state is to devolve power to the north it needs to negotiate with a true representative of the Tamils. The biggest question is whether there is any political party or organisation which can be treated rightfully as the true representative of the people of the north.

This situation arose with the rise of armed militant groups in the north and the subsequent elimination by them of the democratic political leadership of the north, starting from the assassination of the then Mayor of Jaffna Alfred Duraiappah in 1975. This trend culminated in the assassination of the TULF leader A. Amirthalingam in 1989 and forcing democratic minded leaders such as Ananada Sangaree into political wilderness and converting the remaining Tamil leaders into Tiger proxies.

This leaves any democratically elected Sri Lankan Government with only one option if it really wants to negotiate peace. That is to militarily liquidate the non-democratic forces that are responsible for blocking the emergence of democratic groups as true representatives of the people of the north. This is exactly what is happening at the moment in northern Sri Lanka, whatever you may call it - the humanitarian operation as the government puts it, or, genocide of innocent Tamils as the LTTE and its supporters call it.

If this is not done, the Sri Lankan state will have to devolve power to an authoritarian outfit and it cannot be done legally, as such an exercise would be unconstitutional. If devolution is to be meaningful, there has to be several democratic political parties who are ready to assume the devolved political power on behalf of the people. In the absence of such a democratic set up, or, in the absence of any will on the part of the LTTE to convert itself into a democratic political force, actual devolution of power will not be possible even if there is unanimity in the south.

~ The Nation ~

 

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