That secret pact
For the second successive election, the paramount
issue of a Sri Lankan poll will be whether the UNP has a secret pact with
the LTTE or not. At least that's what the PA hopes the paramount issue
will be. Though the government's frontline political operators have run
to the Mahanayake prelates with "new evidence'' of such a pact, these wizened
old monks have refused to be impressed, and have instead said they are
only agreeable to 'studying the evidence'.
The incontrovertible fact is that this is all concocted propaganda aimed
at whipping up the sentiments of a nation justifiably wedded to the notion
of a unitary Sri Lanka. The chief advocates of the brand new "evidence''
of a secret pact were those who, not so long ago, branded as "traitors''
all those who wanted the LTTE militarily crushed. These peace activists
launched sudu nelum movements and got moving various other bandwagons to
push an effort which stopped short of embracing the LTTE as the bosom buddy.
In that innocent era, President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga said
she will cede the North to the LTTE for ten years, and Foreign Minister
Lakshman Kadirgamar paraphrased these sentiments earlier this month by
saying that this Government will give more devolution to the North and
East than federal India has given to their huge states.
But, the issue of the elections is not what the PA or the UNP will do
if elected. Any elected Government will have on its hands a stubborn LTTE,
an ineffectual army and an unyielding intractable South.
What's disturbing is the unfortunate use of the LTTE problem as a vote
catching instrument. The Government has an almost nauseous ability to use
the LTTE problem the way a beggar flashes his wounds for alms and sympathy.
Though the PA has every right to alert the people of possible dangers
of the UNP being in truck with a pro-LTTE Tamil alliance, adducing spurious
evidence about a secret pact to hoodwink the masses, is to dishonestly
throw dirt on the eyes of an innocent public.
The UNP refuses to be dragged into the argument, to make this the main
campaign issue. The UNP leadership seems determined and quite rightly so,
to retain good governance, the economy and management as the key issues
of the campaign.
On the other hand, the UNP displays some measure of arrogance in insisting
that this question of a deal with the LTTE is a non-issue that can be wished
The vast mass of the country's electorate consists of those, especially
from the rural hinterland, who want to save their motherland even if they
have nothing to appease their hunger with. They are quite different to
the westernised urbane elite. It is their love for the Motherland, and
their sacrifices to a great extent which has sustained this war despite
all the military reversals sustained at a tremendous cost to life, and
to the exchequer.
It is therefore extremely insensitive to fan or to ignore the insecurities
of a people who genuinely care for their motherland. Today's politicians
of course have consistently shown that they are deaf to the sensitivities
of the people, and that they cannot rise above the rabble rousing instincts
of the cheap politician. They have been unable to forge a joint approach
to meet the terrorist menace and the mania for separation. They have sung
different tunes at various times to ensure their own political survival,
and the nation has become moribund in the process.