A group of lawmakers from Sri Lanka’s Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has reached out to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking his intervention to ensure the implementation of power-sharing commitments made by Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe. The TNA believes that the safety, security, identity, and existence of the Tamil people are closely tied to India’s national security, particularly in the southern neighborhood.
In a letter addressed to PM Modi, TNA leader R Sampanthan emphasized the urgent need for action, urging the Indian Prime Minister to use his influence during President Wickremesinghe’s upcoming visit to New Delhi on July 21, 2023. The TNA expressed their desire for the Sri Lankan President to fulfill the commitments made to India regarding power-sharing with the Tamil people of the North-East in Sri Lanka without any further delay.
The TNA’s plea comes against the backdrop of unfulfilled promises made by successive governments in Sri Lanka regarding power-sharing arrangements. Throughout the years, proposals for constitutional reforms and extensive devolution of power were put forward but failed to materialize. The TNA’s letter highlights the government proposals for constitutional reforms in 1993, as well as constitutional bills in 1995 and 1997 under President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga. Additionally, it mentions the establishment of committees in 2000 and 2006 by then-President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Despite these efforts, power-sharing remains a distant aspiration for the Tamil community.
The TNA expressed disappointment with the Sri Lankan state’s failure to fulfill its commitments and its attempts to obstruct the implementation of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution. The Sri Lankan government’s resistance to devolving land and police powers, along with legislative manipulations, have further eroded confidence in the state’s willingness to honor its obligations under the Indo-Lanka Accord. This lack of progress has created a crisis of confidence in resolving the National Question, leaving the Tamil people without the expected safety, security, and empowerment.
Highlighting the inseparable relationship between the Tamil people’s well-being and India’s national security, TNA leader R Sampanthan acknowledged India’s focus on cooperative federalism and devolving power to the states. He stressed the importance of making the states in India stronger and expressed his firm belief in cooperative federalism. The TNA believes that a secure and empowered Tamil community in Sri Lanka contributes to India’s own security interests.
In their letter to PM Modi, the TNA sought his assistance in pressuring President Wickremesinghe to honor the commitments made to India regarding power-sharing with the Tamil people. The TNA’s appeal signifies the pressing need for external intervention to address the long-standing issue of power-sharing in Sri Lanka. The Tamil lawmakers’ plea reflects the frustration and concern of the Tamil community, highlighting the urgency and importance of resolving this issue to achieve a more inclusive and equitable society for all citizens in Sri Lanka.
The TNA’s appeal to PM Modi serves as a reminder that the fulfillment of power-sharing commitments is crucial not only for the Tamil people but also for the stability and security of the region. As Sri Lanka and India continue to strengthen their bilateral relations, the resolution of the power-sharing issue would be a significant step toward fostering trust and ensuring the well-being of the Tamil community in Sri Lanka.