National unity and integration are essential prerequisite for any country to progress, more so for Sri Lanka tormented with ethnic and religious differences, as it failed to produce leaders who are well received and accepted by everyone, regardless of race or religion. Perhaps all this could change with the new Executive President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who despite been elected by an overwhelming majority of Sinhala Buddhist is the new Head of State, with the inherent limitation on the unprecedented huge victory is the inability to garner the support of Tamil and Muslim votes. Gotabaya Rajapaksa, as president has already indicated to his political parties that the new government to be formed after the Parliamentary Elections due in March/April next year must get two-third of the seats in parliament, to enable him to have a stable government. A very good request coming from a successful administrator turned politician as President, first time it has happened in the history of Sri Lanka. With a genuine commitment to promote national integration, the possibility exist for the new President to become a successful and practical leader. In addition to the support of Sinhala Buddhist population, the President is also well-respected by the Sinhala Buddhist community; and has a greater likelihood of winning the confidence and respect of Tamils and Muslims before his first term in office ends.
The new President has referred to ‘inclusive nationalism’ and as it is an issue that requires priority attention has already expressed his concerns about the 13th Amendment and planned to review it with the concerned political parties and other stake holders. With all Provincial Councils set up in accordance with the 13th Amendment dissolved and the administrative arm of the State continuing to function in all nine provinces; the defunct Provincial Councils have not inspired any hums from any quarter, including the Tamil speaking minorities, who were told by their politicians that it would solve all their ills, which never happened. For it was a half-backed system of power devolution enacted three decades ago in a scandalous rush. A formula that failed to produce even after a considerable period of time without achieving the promised inter-communal reconciliation, instead has been a recipe for political instability.
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has expressed hope that the new President will engage with them and indeed, it would be good for the President to meet the TNA and other parties so that he can listen to them firsthand and to tell them his plans to overcome issues of the minorities. Any outcome whatever they are cannot be about the Tamils and Muslims, but they will have to be about the Sinhalese too to arrive at a holistic solution acceptable to all.
The Tamil speaking minorities have had enough dealings with past politicians of all hues promising the undeliverable, to one and all, who hoodwinked them into believing that their grievances will be redressed and aspirations realized. Thirty years is long enough for these people to realize keeping the Provincial Council system as it is with all its short comings without synchronising with the rest of government administration made it a dead white elephant, made the Tamil speaking communities to stand and scream at their political leaders and wish all this to change under the leadership of the New President.