President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga was consistent on one matter. That was the opposition to the chauvinistic policies of the SLFP. She always felt that the policies of the SLFP at that time were responsible for racialism raising its ugly head several times in Sri Lanka. Having studied at Sorbonne she identified her policies with the socialist policies which were in vogue at that time. After she came to Sri Lanka she was in a minority, as she quite openly and frankly displayed her opposition to racialism, and the narrow Sinhala Buddhist policies of the SLFP. No one can ever say that she propagated the cause of the majority at the expense of the minority. When her mother openly declared her intention of safeguarding the Sinhala Buddhist values which propelled her to power, Chandrika was different. Later with her charismatic husband Vijaya Kumaratunga, she left the SLFP never to join it again. She was considered a radical Marxist by the petty bourgeoisie of the SLFP.
When J.R. Jayewardene thought he could end the Tamil terrorist insurrection by signing the Indo-Lanka Peace Accord, the SLFP at the behest of the JVP took to the streets. JR had very few friends who were supporters of the Indo-Lanka Accord. Most Sri Lankans considered it was a wholesale sell out of our sovereignty to an alien country. R. Premadasa with six other powerful Cabinet Ministers including National Security Minister Lalith Athulathmudali boycotted the arrival of Rajiv Gandhi in Colombo to sign the Indo-Lanka Accord.
The Bandaranaikes who were close family friends of the Nehrus headed by the Opposition Leader Anura Bandaranaike boycotted the occasion. JR had looked for other avenues of support. He found his adversary Vijaya Kumaratunga was the only leader in the opposition who had the strength and the courage of his convictions to support the Accord.
After the Presidential Elections Vijaya Kumaratunga almost single handedly challenged the Presidency of J.R. Jayewardene, who by this time began to have illusions about being a monarch and ruling as long as the Constitution permits. Even if the Constitution did not permit him to rule for more than 12 years, he was so enthralled with power, that he thought that the Constitution could be amended to make him President for life. Vijaya Kumaratunga who did not come from the ruling class and had always openly declared his humble beginnings shook JR to such an extent that he (Jayewardene) felt that the next Parliamentary Elections could not be won if Vijaya Kumaratunga led a united SLFP together in a grand coalition with the Marxist parties.
JR knew that with all the changes he brought about in making the country a modern developing democracy and the standard of living of the masses improving with the market policies he introduced, he could only get a bare 52% of the national poll. In order to prevent the SLFP winning the Parliamentary Elections he quickly decided to have the infamous Referendum to ensure he would continue to have the two thirds majority in Parliament and the SLFP would be utterly in disarray. He seriously thought he could keep the electoral map folded for a number of years. He was puzzled why the people backed a person like Vijaya Kumaratunga who had openly said that he had no illusions of becoming the President of this country. In order to ensure that a peaceful referendum should be held without any serious opposition, the Naxalite plot was hatched. Vijaya Kumaratunga was arrested and detained under the infamous Emergency Regulations.
It is also ironical that the great helmsman J.R. Jayewardene had to enlist the support of his adversary Vijaya Kumaratunga to take the blows that he got from divisive elements in his own Government including the Prime Minister and Lalith Athulathmudali and also the SLFP headed by Anura Bandaranaike. It must be said this was the time the SLFP shamelessly embraced the JVP and murderous DJV. As far as the SLFP was concerned they knew they had no chance of making any dent in the popularity of the UNP Government.
The supporters of the SLFP had been caned to submission. The SLFP became leaderless and was adrift like a rudderless boat. The DJV virtually dictated what the SLFP should do. They were neither farsighted nor did they have a leader who had the visions of the future or were able to think how detrimental it would be to have anything to do with a fascist clique like the JVP. The manner in which the leaders of SLFP responded to the killings conducted by the DJV hit squads on the UNP and the leftist supporters of this country made every one feel that the SLFP no longer had an existence of its own. What happened near the Bo Tree in Pettah? The whole country knew that the DJV and the JVP were responsible for the massive riots that took place with the signing of the Accord.
SLFP, the main opposition party indirectly supported such radical extremism. It must be said that JRJ could have used the Emergency Regulations and detained the entire leadership of the SLFP when they assembled under the Bo Tree at Pettah when the rioting that spread in the entire South began from that spot.
There was no other time the Government of JRJ was more unpopular than at the time he signed the Peace Accord. Though JRJ loves history and had boasted proudly that he is a great student of history, he forgot or he conveniently forgot to remember, that no invading Army nor any foreign Army had been ever popular with the natives. Whatever benign overtures a foreign Army displayed towards the natives, the natives always hated them. The Indo-Lanka Accord which brought in the IPKF was hated not only by the Tamils but also by the Sinhalese in the South. Vijaya Kumaratunga was able to convince his Marxist friends including the leaders of the LSSP and the CP of the necessity to end the war and devolve power to the minorities. Chandrika Kumaratunga never ever changed her policies on this matter concerning devolution and allowing the minorities to have Governments of their own under the Provincial Councils.
J.R. Jayewardene was a statesman who realised that the LTTE cannot be defeated by waging war. He thought that the Indian Army could effectively destroy the LTTE if they did not subscribe to the Indo-Lanka Accord. He always felt that whatever opposition there was in the South, if he was able to bring peace to a country ravaged by war, he will become victorious again.
Rajiv Gandhi wanted an international scapegoat to boost his political image in his country. The Punjab Accord had collapsed. In order to boost the ego of the Indians as a superpower in the sub-continent, it was a popular perception and that the countries around India needed to be bullied in order to keep the image of the Indian supremacy alive. Ms. Indira Gandhi was popular with millions of illiterate Indians because she terrorised the Sikhs and invaded the Golden Temple.
There were stories that she would instruct the Indian Army to invade and capture Sri Lanka to punish J.R. Jayewardene who compared her to a cow and her son to a calf which was the symbol of the Indian Congress Party. Rajiv Gandhi had similar intentions. When the Punjab Accord collapsed he ordered food parcels to be dropped in the Jaffna peninsula to prevent starvation in the peninsula. This was done in order to subjugate the Sri Lankan Government and to stop the Vadamarachchi Operation. The Vadamarachchi offensive was stopped at the behest of J.R. Jayewardene who thought the Sri Lankan Army was incapable of defeating the LTTE. He truly believed his Army could not arrest Prabhakaran as Prabhakaran would escape to Tamil Nadu which afforded him and the terrorists sanctuary.
Rajiv Gandhi thought that the Indo-Lanka Accord was the best for the Tamils in this country. The Indo-Lanka Accord gave much more than the District Councils which the Tamils clamoured for earlier. And with the majority of Tamil terrorist groups supporting the Indo-Lanka Accord, he thought that a solution acceptable to the most extreme Tamil radicals would be found in the Indo-Lanka Accord, Prabhakaran was airlifted from Jaffna to New Delhi by the Indian Air Force, and he was virtually forced by the Indian Prime Minister to accept the conditions of the Indo-Lanka Accord. There were huge pictures of the ceremonial handing over of weapons by Dulip Yogi, the leader of the LTTE political wing to General Sepala Attygalle on behalf of the President of Sri Lanka.
J.R. Jayewardene, R. Premadasa, Vijaya Kumaratunga, Gamini Dissanayake and Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga were leaders who either by conviction believed in devolving power to the peripheries, or were leaders who were virtually forced to accept the demands of the Tamil terrorists by the sheer power of their terror to devolve power and protect the minorities. After they were convinced they sincerely believed in their convictions, and firmly resolved to end the ethnic strife in Sri Lanka. The war has claimed thousands of lives of Tamils and Sinhalese. There was no end or no way in which we could believe that within a short time our war efforts would bring results. They all knew that the LTTE was quite different from the JVP which though similar in organisation was very crudely put together. The JVP could not produce a single suicide killer. There was not a single person who was willing to sacrifice his life for the so called liberation struggle. The LTTE was different. They knew and they believed that the Indian Army would effectively put and end to the LTTE war machine.
At the beginning it was not necessary as Prabhakaran himself had agreed to the conditions of the Indo-Lanka Accord, and Prabhakaran had ordered the weapons surrender. What they did not know was that they were dealing with the most ruthless terrorist leader in the eyes of the Sinhalese, but the greatest Tamil hero that the Tamil nation has produced after the legendary Veera Pandyan Kattabomman.
Prahhakaran was not only a military leader but also a political strategist. He gave the impression to Rajiv Gandhi that he would subscribe to the Indo-Lanka Accord as long as he was the guest of the Indian Government in a hotel guarded by the Commandos. He instructed them to hand over the weapons.
Rajiv Gandhi thought he had perhaps achieved what he could not achieve in Punjab. The world community hailed him as a great and inspiring leader who came, to the aid of a minority community. He did not reconcile to accept the fact that Sikh separatists would respond to the Central Government of India and to the Indian Army in the same manner that the Tamil separatists responded to the Sri Lankan Government and the Indian Army. Rajiv Gandhi was unable to understand the basic truth of a terrorist organisation which in the eyes of its members is the only national liberation movement. He believed in the idle boast that India had the fourth largest Army in the world. He believed that numbers mattered more than anything else.
The fourth largest Army had defeated Pakistan in two wars. The RAW believed that Sri Lanka could be captured within eight minutes of setting foot in Colombo. Not only Rajiv Gandhi but also the top military elite of the Sri Lankan Army and President JRJ too believed in this. There was one man hidden in the Wanni jungles who really knew the actual strength of the Indian Army, because Prabhakaran and most of his terrorists were trained by the Indians.
What Prabhakaran did to the Indian Army was no different to what Sanath did to the Indian bowlers. The fourth largest Army came a cropper on the assault launched by the best military strategist, according to my reckoning, that the world has produced in the last twenty years. He is Velupillai Prabhakaran. His political sagacity was not second to his military strategy. He led Rajiv Gandhi and a number of Sri Lankan leaders up the garden path, killed Rajiv Gandhi for the contribution the Indian Army made of converting a group of smugglers into a ruthless fighting force.
He killed Premadasa for having invited them to Colombo and giving them a reprieve and permitting them to rebuild its attack force.
He killed Gamini Dissanayake for being a true friend of the Tamils, being a person who believed in a devolution of power to the minorities on a wider scale than even the Indo-Lanka Accord permitted. He killed Lalith Athulathmudali for the launching of the Vadamarachchi offensive. Rohana Wijeweera, his counterpart in the South was captured and shot like a dog. But Prabhakaran goes on.
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