A great chance for Lankan Tamils
The landslide victory scored by the Tamil National Alliance in the Northern Provincial Council has presented a fresh and perhaps the best opportunity in recent times for the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka.
After three decades of gruesome death and destruction that mauled almost every household in the north, the Tamils have now got a chance to get on their feet.
TNAâs chief minister-elect, C.V. Wigneswaran, is highly respected, not just among the Tamils but across the island, as a man of learning and capable of looking at issues without getting stuck in narrow politics and racial restrictions. The Tamil people could not have got a better advocate than this retired Supreme Court judge for securing their political rights and faster resettlement.
The TNA win gives New Delhi a chance to re-engineer its Lankan diplomacy, which finds itself in a cleft stick. As of now, the Tamils in Sri Lanka are not impressed with the Indian approach, blaming it for not being able to prevent the massacre of Tamils in the closing stages of the Eelam war, January-May 2009.
Indian allocation for post-war rehabilitation has gone up to `500 crore (2013-14), almost 10 per cent of the total foreign aid outflow, but there have been allegations that Colombo is diverting this money to other projects in Sinhala areas. Also, there are complaints that Colombo is not cooperating as it has delayed land allocation for the India-sponsored housing projects in the North whereas the Chinese are getting big support for their mega projects in the island.
Put plainly, China needs Sri Lanka to berth ships carrying home mineral wealth from its expanding network of mines in Africa. With Pakistan energising its ISI âwatchtowerâ in Colombo, India would have to depend on Mr Wigneswaran and his provincial government as allies to counter this threat to southern India that has been relatively peaceful all these years. There are ways to do this without causing injury to the norms of protocol.
President Mahinda Rajapakse can now attempt to show the world â in the first instance to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo in November â that his government has been able to complete an important democratic exercise in such a fair manner that the Opposition Tamil coalition won a huge majority in the battle-scarred North. But that is patently not enough. He would have to treat Mr Wigneswaran and his people with more seriousness, and deliver political rights, equal opportunities and lasting peace for the Tamils. Not least, the voices of bellicose politicians in Tamil Nadu, breeding on Eelam slogans, would have to fall silent lest chief minister Wigneswaran tells them off.