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SLEEP OVER IT

The Tamil Eelam remains a theme for a dream. Even before M. Karunanidhi, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader, stated this as the reason behind his recent attempt to reconvene the Tamil Eelam Supporters Organization after three decades, Sri Lanka had been aware of such a possibility. The Tamil diaspora has used its collective might to push the Mahinda Rajapaksa government against the wall, within international fora and outside, and Sri Lanka believes that the undying obsession with the Eelam is the reason behind it all. Sri Lanka’s undying suspicion of the motive behind the worldwide call for an investigation into war crimes and the push for reconciliation has prompted the Rajapaksa government to backtrack on almost all the promises it had made after the 2009 war. It no longer vouches for the devolution of powers or for the implementation of the 13th amendment of the constitution in any form. It insists that the lessons it has learnt and the reconciliation drive will unfurl at a pace that the country sets for itself and the minorities will have to settle for a unitary form of government. The political process in the disturbed areas has, expectedly, slowed down. The government recently dissolved the provincial council in the east prematurely and has now postponed the elections to the northern provincial council to 2013 on the plea that electoral rolls have to be revised. Meanwhile, suspicion about the role and intention of the Tamil minorities in the post-war period has led to steady militarization of the areas that have borne the brunt of the war and have suffered the most from the decades of violence unleashed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. It goes without saying that the effort of prominent personalities such as Mr Karunanidhi to revive the dream of Eelam is feeding the doubts and insecurities of the majority Sinhala population in Sri Lanka.

It is only natural for governments to remain captive to collective dreams and nightmares. But the role of political leadership also enables and empowers them to steer the people away from these limiting circumstances. As Sri Lanka’s most immediate and most powerful neighbour, India can help the island nation rebuild, restructure and reach glorious heights. But to do that it is imperative for both nations to see that their bilateral ties do not become victim to domestic political compulsions or to figments of the imagination.