Bypass TNA, win over Tamils - Dr. Swamy
The Leader of India's Janatha Party Dr. Subramanian Swamy who visited
Sri Lanka on a two day religious pilgrimage last week says Sri Lanka
should not follow the Indian model in devolving power to theperipheries
and finding a political solution to the problems of theNorth East
Calling the defeat of LTTE a 'great victory over terrorism', Dr.
Swamysays President Rajapaksa deserves the highest honour of India
forexterminating a threat on his motherland.
He says the time is opportune to bring in a political solution
withina framework of a united Sri Lanka in Parliament. Dr. Swamy is of
the viewthat Sri Lanka has to take into account the recent history
andtreachery of the LTTE in crafting this home grown solution and the
TNAwhich is a LTTE trumphet should be by-passed if they try to
Question: What was the purpose of your visit to Sri Lanka? I
read it as a private visit but you have held meetings with Tamil
Aanswer: It was a religious pilgrimage but I had time, so I
met a few leaders of the southern Malai Indian Vamsa leaders.
Q: How many days were you in Sri Lanka, and what did you do
apart from visiting Kataragama?
A: Two full days. A good part of it was spent driving to and
fro the temple.
Q: You have said you are anti-LTTE but in favour of a
political solution. Why do you make this proclamation when many of the
south Indian politicians take a pro-LTTE stance?
A: That is what I told them. LTTE is anti-Indian and hence
President Rajapaksa deserves our highest honour of Bharat Ratna for
Q: The Government has set in motion a process to formulate a
framework for devolving power to the peripheries. But there seem to be a
tug of war between different stakeholders; the TNA, UNP and some of the
coalition partners of the Government. Conflict of interests and petty
politics have hampered every attempt in the past to find a lasting
solution to the problems of the North East people. Your comments?
A: Yes, that is the history. But two things are clear to me.
First, that Tamils have a right to devolution of power within the
framework of a united Sri Lanka. Second, the majority community has
broken past agreements such as with Chelvanayakam. Now as a hero of Sri
Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa must be assertive and within this
year's end, should push through the 13+ Amendment or something similar
or fail in Parliament trying to do that.
This is the view of Sri Lanka's well-wishers in India, US, Israel,
and China. This is our friendly view - and not a diktat - since Sri
Lanka is a proud sovereign nation.
Q: Do you think a federal system is an ideal structure for
devolving power in Sri Lanka?
A: No. But it can have a unitary Constitution with subsidiary
The central government must have overriding powers to dismiss
provincial bodies as also a central police that overrides provincial
police in national security matters.
Q: Should Sri Lanka follow the Indian model? There are some of
the local political parties who voice this proposition.
A: No. Sri Lanka has to take into account the recent history
and the treachery of the LTTE. I am also disappointed that Tamils voted
en bloc against Mr. Rajapaksa in the Presidential Elections, thereby
missing a chance to celebrate a great victory against terrorism. Tamils
should regard themselves as Sri Lankans first and Tamils second.
We have in India smashed this sectarian mentality of Tamils to regard
themselves as Tamils first when as Union Law Minister in 1991 I got the
DMK state government dismissed.
Tamils of Tamil Nadu then overwhelmingly supported the Centre.
Q: Do you think Sri Lanka should look for third party
mediation in the devolution process? This is proposed by the TNA.
A: TNA is a pro-LTTE outfit. By-pass them. Then Tamils will
also be with you.
Q: The Asian Tribune reported that you said India is indebted
to Sri Lanka for eliminating LTTE. But the Government has been battling
international wrath over Sri Lanka's 'war on terror'?
A: Nothing to battle. Financial orphans of the LTTE can make
some noise but it is of no consequence anywhere in the world except in
London's Trafalgar Sq.
Q: Do you think India should help cushion international
pressure on Sri Lanka? How do you describe current relations between the
two countries in this context?
A: The problem in India has been the covert support to the
LTTE by Ms. Sonia Gandhi and her Italian family. But if your President
is assertive on a reasonable devolution package with short time line,
then even Sonia can do little.
Q: Is LTTE still active in South India?
A: If any LTTE is left in India it is clandestine, covert,
burrowed underground and under aliases. Instead of puli [tiger] they
have become eli [rat].
Q: You are an Economist of Harvard breed. Do you think Sri
Lanka is on the right track economically?
A: You have had a head start in Quality of Life Index and
Human Development Index. So anytime you can revive your economy. India
will stand by you in the long run.