Tamils group seen exploiting cast in Jaffna election

[TamilNet, Saturday, 03 January 1998, 23:59 GMT]
Community leaders in Jaffna and sections of the Tamil press deplored the spectre of casteism and a host of other social evils which they say are reappearing within Jaffna community, as the campaign for the local government elections gathers momentum in the peninsula. The Tamil groups are said to have selected candidates from castes which dominate constituencies in Jaffna.

The groups are doing this to corner block caste votes say knowledgeable sources in the north.

Some group leaders unofficially say that they are convinced that caste based candidates can rope in the bloc vote of his or her caste.

The careful selection of certain candidates in the Jaffna municipality bears this out argues a social activist in the north who did not wish to be identified.

The Tamil groups have also begun to distribute large quantities of arrack (an alcoholic drink) among potential supporters which has led to public brawls.

The political columnist of Sri Lanka's largest selling Tamil weekly tabloid 'Thinamurasu' says in the latest issue of the paper -

"Candidates have been put up for the local polls on the basis of caste and religious divisions. They (the Tamil groups) are seeking votes by telling people 'we have given a place to a person of your caste."

"Many kinds of candidates such as arrack sellers, hooligans and those dropouts who committed heinous crimes (Panchamaapaathahangal) while they were active in various groups have been put up as candidates."

"These are the local leaders whom the Tamil groups are going to present the Tamil people."

"The 1977 elections was a death knell to religious, caste and regional divisions. The world saw (during the 1977 election) the spectacle of all the Tamil speaking people standing up as one. 'Thanthai Selva' (S.J.V Chelvanayagam) who was a Christian stood high as the leader of the Tamil speaking people. Religion had to stand aside then. The TULF leadership failed to preserve this unity and continue the struggle for (our) rights..."

"The young men and women who were with the TULF at that time worked hard to oppose caste and religious differences. But what is happening today is terrible. The Tamil parties have begun to resurrect caste and religious differences to win the elections."


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