Perumal’s entry into TNA
Leader of the Tamil Socialist Democratic Party Annamalai Varatharaja Perumal has come forward to join the Tamil National Alliance and has pointed out that it was the need of the hour for all Tamil political parties to come together and fulfil the political aspirations of people in the North and the East.
Illankai Tamil Arasu Katchchi (ITAK) which is popularly known as the Federal Party being the premier political organ in the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), Varatharaja Perumal was enthusiastically involved in the political activities of the ITAK when he was young.
He had even been arrested more than once when the Tamil militant activities were taking shape in the early seventies.
Later in the early eighties Varatharaja Perumal joined the Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF) under the leadership of K. Pathmanabha who had developed contacts with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) while he was a student in England and trained himself in guerilla warfare in Lebanon.
Pathmanabha formed the EPRLF along with Varatharaja Perumal, Suresh Premachandran and Douglas Devananda when several Tamil militant movements were mushrooming in the North.
The EPRLF was the first to be known internationally when the outfit kidnapped American engineer Alan and his wife in Jaffna in 1984. Alan was working in a foreign funded water project in Jaffna.
The kidnapping ended when Ronald Reagan who was the US President at that time, made a move by contacting the late Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and it was her involvement in the EPRLF which had even received Indian military training that resulted in the release of the Alan couple at the Jaffna Bishop's House five days after they were kidnapped.
The mastermind behind kidnapping the Alan couple was EPDP Leader and Jaffna District Parliamentarian Douglas Dvananda who was the leader of the EPRLF's military wing People's Liberation Army (PLA).
The EPRLF led by K. Pathmanabha was adopting military strategies with a political approach instead of solely depending on the militant activities like the LTTE.
The EPRLF had politically motivated several cadres including former North and East Chief Minister A. Varatharaja Perumal.
The EPRLF's political stance had even led it to accept the Indo-Lanka Peace Accord with the introduction of the Provincial Council system in the Island.
Perumal who was an Economics Lecturer at the University of Jaffna before joining the EPRLF and later remained as one of the political think/tanks of the outfit became the first Chief Minister of the merged North and East Province in 1987.
He who took his oaths as the Chief Minister of the North and East Province had served for nearly two years when he was forced to seek asylum in India as the IPKF withdrew from the Island.Now, with his return to the Island two years back, with the total annihilation of the LTTE, Perumal is of the view that more than the ultra-nationalist elements in the Southern part of the Island, it was the disunity in the Tamil political scene among Tamil moderates as well as the Tamil militants that had led to miss several golden opportunities in finding a durable political solution to the ethnic question in the North and the East.
Varatharaja Perumal after falling out with his onetime colleague and present EPRLF leader Suresh K. Premachandran formed his new party called the Tamil Socialist Democratic Party a year ago and strongly believes that by aligning with the progressive forces in the South only a meaningful political settlement could be reached for the Tamil question.
Perumal being an economist lambasted the Northern Provincial Council stating that it had hardly done anything, since its formation, in developing the Northern Province.
Pointing at several countries which were devastated by war including Vietnam, Perumal says that the post-war development in those countries was remarkable and they have strengthened their economies in an appreciative way.
Following the request made by the Tamil National Alliance leadership Varatharaja Perumal has come forward to join the TNA unconditionally.
Perumal, who started his political career in his school days as a supporter of the ITAK and later engaged in militant activities, believes that extremism in politics whether in the North or the South is not going to take the country anywhere.
He is also of the view that because the entire country had suffered immensely due to the three decades of separatist war, post-war development cannot be confined to the North and the East.
Perumal points out that as the separatist war had led to the economic downfall of the North and the East and the country at large, an overall development process could only pave way to put the country's economy on the right track.
As far as the present turmoil in the TNA due to EPRLF Leader Suresh K Premachandran falling out with the TNA hierarchy is concerned, Perumal strongly believes that the TNA is heading on the right track under the leadership of R. Sampanthan and said that he was looking forward to working with the TNA as it has been accepted by the majority of people in the North and the East.
Varatharaja Perumal being a political stalwart very well understanding both sides, the Tamil militants as well as the moderates with his thinking of accommodating the progressive forces in the South, his entry into the TNA could be expected to spearhead the Tamil political scene from orthodoxy to fit into the new world order towards gaining economically oriented political goals.
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