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Selected Writings by Sachi Sri Kantha
On Killinochchi constituency and Anandasangaree
4 January 2007
(dated Dec.26, 2006) on my
tribute to V.Navaratnam are well taken and I appreciate his insight of a
‘triangle’ in the political careers of Pundit K.P.Ratnam, V.Navaratnam and
V.Anandasangaree. Sure, between 1956 and 1959, Chelliah Rajadurai was not the
“First MP” for Batticaloa constituency, since it was a single member
constituency then. Just for clarification, I wish to note that the Batticaloa
constituency from1956 to 1959 was an area-wise larger constituency which
incorporated chunks of the newly delineated Amparai constituency (1960).
Now, to Kilinochchi constituency, which was also a newly delineated one in 1960. Has anyone noticed that the rump TULF leader V.Anandasangary has a website now (www.anandasangary.com), in which his early political career is traced in bits and pieces; of course, for political convenience! Even during the non-violent agitations of Federal Party and TULF (from mid 1950s to mid 1970s), Anandasangaree’s contributions were abysmally low, which proves Prof.Veluppillai’s assertion that Anandasangaree “was never a Tamil nationalist.” Despite all the bouquets he is being showered with (since March 2004) in the Colombo’s parochial press, Anandasangaree’s political career has been like that of a person having two feet in two boats at the same time.
An interesting vignette, which substantiates this fence-sitting strategy, appears in the bio-sketch of Anandasangaree in the reference book, ‘Eighth Parliament of Sri Lanka 1977’ (compiled by H.B.W.Abeynaike for Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd., Colombo). To quote, “He has [also] been Chairman of the Karachchi V.C.[Village Council] from 1965-68, and Chairman, Kilinochchi T.C. [Town Council] in 1968. He was unseated for holding membership of two local bodies.” Anandasangaree’s recent pretension to be a writer [or ‘Man of Letters’] is nothing but a joke. But, his website provides a sample of press notices about his scribblings to media-recognizable politicians and other notable individuals. A total of 29 items are categorized under ‘Letters’ column. Whether Anandasangaree has received any legitimate replies from his correspondents is something for someone to find out.
The ‘Monthly Archives’ of Anandasangaree’s website chronologically begins in November 1960, which records the Kilinochchi constituency’s result of July 1960 general election. Then, the next entry advances to March 1965, which records the Kilinochchi constituency’s result of March 1965 general election. Then, there is a 23 year gap, followed by the next entry in February 1988! This 23 year long ‘Rip Van Winklian’ hibernation tells as much about Anandasangary’s politics. Or else, he probably now doesn’t even wish to be reminded of his tenure as Kilinochchi MP representing the Tamil Congress(TC, 1970-77) and Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF, 1977-1983). For the benefit of readers, I provide below Anandasangaree’s career record in the general elections from 1960 to 1977, as a candidate of LSSP, TC and TULF in Kilinochchi.
1960 March Election
Total electorate 13,991; Total votes polled 9,079; A.Sivasunderam (FP) 3,741; A.C.Ponnambalam (Ind) 2,582; P.Arumugam (Ind) 1,386; V.Anandasangaree (LSSP) 1,114; C.Saravanamuttu (Ind) 136; Majority of winner 1,159.
1960 July Election
Total electorate 13,991; Total votes polled 7,437; A.Sivasunderam (FP) 5,338; V.Anandasangaree (LSSP) 2,011; Majority of winner 3,327.
Total electorate 18,738; Total votes polled 13,366; K.P.Ratnam (FP) 5,922; V.Coomaraswamy (TC) 4,076; V.Anandasangaree (LSSP) 1,804; C.Saravanamuttu (ETOM) 831;K.Selvanayakam (Ind) 390; R.Vethanayagam (Ind) 97; Majority of winner 1,846.
Total electorate 23,793; Total votes polled 18,089;V.Anandasangaree (TC) 9,049; M.Alalasundaram (FP) 8,392; K.A.Jerome (Ind) 253; A.Sivasunderam (Ind) 196; K.Kanagaratnam (Ind) 139; Majority of winner 657.
Total electorate 26,670; Total votes polled 21,314; V.Anandasangaree (TULF) 15,607; C.Kumarasuriyar (SLFP) 4,006; N.Kanagasooriar (UNP) 1,497; Mrs.I.Gnanasangari (Ind) 76; Majority of winner 11,601.
A hagiographic notice which appeared under the name of Prof.Bertram Bastiampillai to felicitate Anandasangaree’s 70th birthday (Colombo Daily News, June 18, 2003), informs us that Sangaree joined the Tamil Congress “in May 1966, after a solid grounding in socialism.” Apart from “a solid grounding in socialism” (whatever that means to anyone!), it was indeed a shrewd political move by Anandasangaree which served him well to make his entry into the parliament in 1970. After entering the parliament, during 1971, Anandasangaree was wavering and sitting on the fence, while his two nominal Tamil Congress colleagues C.Arulampalam (elected from Nallur constituency) and A.Thiyagarajah (elected from Vaddukoddai constituency) were lured by SLFP’s patronage packets. Sensing the then prevailing popular mood among the Tamils and with a long term objective of being an MP, Anandasangaree professed his support to the TULF, formed in 1972. But his active participation in TULF’s extra-parliamentary anti-government agitations was lukewarm at best, and was only for media notices.
The above-presented election results for Kilinochchi also illustrates another vignette on the MPs who strayed from the FP, following their entry into the parliament. Majority of the Tamil voters were no fools and were hardly enthused by ego-oriented, self-serving politics. Just check the case of A.Sivasunderam, who was Anandasangaree’s and K.P.Ratnam’s predecessor. He was the FP MP from 1960 to 1965. Later when in 1970, he contested as an Independent, Sivasunderam was swept out of the ‘House’ by the voters. The same happening occurred to Anandasangaree (in the 2004 general election), as well as to the other ‘black sheep Tamil MPs’ who were evicted from FP, on disciplinary grounds; such as M.Balasundaram (once MP for Kopay) and C.X.Martyn (once MP for Jaffna). These ‘black sheep Tamil MPs’ were thrashed by the Tamil voters subsequently for their misbehavior. But, V.Navaratnam’s plight was different. Though he was evicted by the then FP hierarchy on disciplinary grounds, in the subsequent elections he contested in 1970 and 1977 (as I had provided the results in the eulogy), Navaratnam was not thrashed by the Kayts voters; probably because voters felt that Navaratnam had presented a valid case.