In a strange coincidence, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and Leader of the Opposition R. Sampanthan will participate together in a public event on Saturday, which marks the 40th anniversary of the Vaddukoddai resolution.
The two leaders will be in the ancient Indian city of Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh to take part in the valedictory event of the Kumbh Mela.
Forty years ago, Mr. Sampanthan — then a member of the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) — was one of those who supported the demand for Tamil Eelam (independent country for Sri Lankan Tamils) while Mr. Sirisena’s political mentor Sirimavo Bandaranaike was the all-powerful Prime Minister.
‘Sacred fight for Eelam’
The Vaddukoddai resolution, which talked of “the sacred fight for freedom” in support of a sovereign state that encompassed people of the Northern and Eastern provinces, was adopted against the backdrop of growing restlessness among Tamil youth.
The TULF, then an umbrella organisation of Tamil parties such as S.J. Chelvanayakam’s Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi, G.G. Ponnambalam’s All Ceylon Tamil Congress and S. Thondaman’s Ceylon Workers Congress, had adopted the resolution. “We stopped talking about the content of the resolution ever since the India-Sri Lanka Agreement was signed in 1987 and the 13th Constitutional Amendment [which envisaged the establishment of elected provincial councils], was adopted. We have moved away from that position,” Mr. Sampanthan told The Hindu.
Pointing out that a majority of the parties had agreed to work within the framework of a “united, undivided Sri Lanka,” Mr. Sampanthan, now heading a coalition of parties called the Tamil National Alliance, said the present process of constitutional reforms would “bring about finality” to the Tamil question. The Tamil people needed “greater power sharing, greater autonomy,” he said.
Northern Province Governor Reginald Cooray, considered a moderate among Sinhalese-Buddhist political leaders, however, said there were similarities between the Vaddukoddai resolution and those adopted by the Northern Provincial Council. Yet, he added, “ordinary Tamil people” were concerned about their livelihood more than anything else.
According to M.K. Shivajilingam, considered a hard-liner within the TNA, Vaddukoddai was still relevant as it provides the right to self determination.
However, Uday Gammanpila, who belongs to the Mahinda Rajapaksa camp, said Tamil politics had not moved an inch since the resolution was adopted all those years ago.(The Hindu)