Vijayakala’s remark, Rohana W and Pirabakaran

Vijayakala’s remark linked to political tug-o-war (Daily News Editorial)

Much brouhaha is being created by a remark attributed to State Minister of Child’s Affairs Vijayakala Maheswaran. Addressing a function in Jaffna, Vijayakala, the wife of slain ex-MP, T. Maheswaran, had reportedly spoken in favour of a resurgence of the LTTE under whom the Tamils, according to her, lived with dignity, it was reported. When all hell broke loose, Ms. Maheswaran insisted that she was quoted out of context. Pressed for an answer, by State Minister Ranjan Ramanayake, who, in a telephone conversation with Vijayakala, stated that the State Minister’s remark had placed the UNP in a difficult position, the latter replied that if ever she made such a statement it was intended as a vote buying exercise.

That just about sums up the position in the North. Although the LTTE militarily is defeated, the Tamil youth still harbour nostalgic feelings about the outfit. This, the Tamil politicians are well aware of and play on these sentiments of the youth to become popular. The fact that Chief Minister Wigneswaran, who is not shy of defending the LTTE, has a huge following among the Tamil youth voters in the North compared to the likes of the Sambanthans and Sumanthirans amply demonstrates this reality. Vijayakala too has no alternative but to follow a similar line, if she ever hopes to enter parliament again as an elected representative of the Tamils.

The whole scenario bears resemblance to the JVP. Like Prabhakaran, Rohana Wijeweera too was a mass murderer and the difference lay only in the numbers killed. However, the late JVP leader is still deified in certain quarters and the rathu sahodharayas religiously commemorate their leader, each year, on the day of his demise, like they do Prabhakaran. It is irrelevant here whether Prabhakaran was the greater monster, for wanting to divide the country, while Wijeweera, on the other hand, waged a class struggle. Militant sentiments tend to stay ingrained even though the movements may have been destroyed.

Both, the Joint Opposition and UNP have taken exception to this remark on the grounds that the utterance was against the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution, to which an MP swears by to renounce separatism. The Speaker gave an undertaking that he would go through the speech and action taken, if warranted, when the JO MPs raised a ruckus in parliament.

The JO has clearly seized on the situation to draw a red herring to shift public attention away from the New York Times story detailing how Mahinda Rajapaksa received US $ 7.6 million from China for his election campaign. There is no other reason to overreact the way JO did in parliament when its MPs invaded the Well of the House and cast ugly remarks at the Speaker, even when latter assured them he would deal with the matter in consultation with the Prime Minister and the Attorney General. Such conduct also was not without racist overtones that is sure to push the Northern Tamils towards further estrangement, and deal a blow to the current reconciliation efforts.

What was, after all, made was a statement, given the political context in the North, like what is happening in the South, where politicians play to the sentiments of the majority community to harvest votes. A noted lady film star MP in the Mahinda Rajapaksa government, during the last presidential election campaign, held a media conference displaying a so called Eelam map to indicate that the country would be divided if MR lost the poll. That is the name of the game, be it in the North or the South. Communal politics is being resorted to by both sides, for better effect. Vijayakala’s remark too should be treated in that vein. Hairsplitting on the constitutionality of the remark won’t alter the fact.


Be that as it may, the Joint Opposition, especially Mahinda Rajapaksa, is least qualified to raise issue against Ms.Vijayakala’s stand. The State Minister’s remark was just that, a remark made in the heat of the moment. If this remark did cause such a stir, had the UNP did what Mahinda Rajapaksa did, there certainly would have been an upheaval of cataclysmic proportions.

JO MPs now making a big song and dance about a statement made by a female politician from the North should not blind themselves to the fact that it was their leader, Mahinda Rajapaksa, who, not only made Karuna Amman, one time LTTE Eastern Commander, a government minister, but also an office bearer of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party.

This, with the full knowledge that he (Karuna) ordered the slaughter of 600 policemen in cold blood, the bombing of the citadel of Buddhism, the Sri Dalada Maligawa, in Kandy, and machine gunning of dozens of novice monks in Arantalawa. (Plus the massacre of 113 worshipers in two mosques in Kattankudy and abduction and murder of more than 75 Muslims in Kurukkalmadam –TW)

Besides, it has been the proud boast of Mahinda Rajapaksa that he totally eliminated the LTTE, leaving no room for its resurgence. This was the constant refrain during the last Presidential Election campaign. Why then has the JO got so worked up about Ms.Vijayakala’s remark? Was Rajapaksa not entirely truthful when he declared he had completely wiped out the LTTE?

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