If there is one factor which is important especially for minorities, it is unity. Unity among the people of the community is of utmost important if it was to move towards durable solutions for any issue, be it long term or short term.
The scenes at the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) not only brought people to the streets, but also brought out the frictions, and rifts that were hitherto more or less under wraps.
In the past too, there were reports of internal rifts between members of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) which were made public in subtle ways but were refuted on public platforms. The Northern Province was in utter chaos due to the developments, but what was saddening to see was the lack of unity among people and politicians. It was almost as if some were waiting for this to happen to add more fuel to it.
What resulted was more confusion among the people. Those who recognized the TNA as the sole representative of the Tamils of Northern and Eastern Provinces have now started wondering whether the TNA could represent the people given the cracks and infighting that have now come to the open.
Minority politics is not the same as politics in the majority community. The minority needs these representatives to represent them in various governing bodies so that their issues could be heard.
Tamil politics have had a very violent history which had prevented many moderate politicians from coming to the fore due to the gun culture that prevailed.
Today, we do not have that environment. But, we do see that each political party is trying to claim the ownership of the minority Tamils by putting down other political parties.
This is unhealthy for Northern politics. Why these parties cannot unite for the betterment of the people is a mystery.
If they cannot sit down, talk to each other and come to an understanding among themselves, how are they going to sit down and talk to representatives of the majority community to solve the ethnic question.
Leave alone the ethnic question. How can they help people address their daily struggles? It was the youngsters who came to the streets last week.
The youngsters need to be active in politics, but not to create divisions, but to find ways of working together for the good of the people.
We had a bitter past, but we don’t seem to have learned from it. It’s a shame that it had to come to this.
Published in the Nation on June 17, 2017