Joining the government as ministers will protect the Indian Origin Tamils (IOT) in a rapidly communalising and worsening security situation in Sri Lanka, says Arumugan Thondaman, the leader of the biggest Indian Origin Tamil party, Ceylon Workers' Congress (CWC).
Speaking to Hindustan Times on Friday after being sworn-in as the Minister for Youth Empowerment for Social and Economic Development, Thondaman said: "Indian Origin Tamil youth face problems when bombs go off. They get harassed by the police.
More generally, our community faces problems in getting identity cards. These problems can be sorted out if the CWC becomes part of the government. We can influence the government."
The Indian Tamil leader went on to say that the CWC, like the other Tamil parties, was for a negotiated settlement of the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka and would like the war to be stopped.
"We can influence the government to take the path of negotiations if we are part of it," Thondaman said.
His party colleagues Muthu Sivalingam and M Sachchitanandan became Deputy Ministers of Estate Infrastructure and Education respectively.
The other major Tamil party in parliament, Up Country Peoples' Front (UPF) also joined the government on Friday.
UPF's leader, P Chandrasekharan, became Minister for Social Equity and his colleague, Radhakrishnan, became Deputy Minister of Social Services.
Rajapaksa builds bridges with minorities
By admitting the CWC and UPF into the cabinet, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has expanded his political base to include more minorities.
It now includes the Indian Origin Tamils besides a section of the Muslims.
If he is able to rope in the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) also, his base will be very strong among the Muslims.
His brother, Basil Rajapaksa, had held talks with the SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem on Friday. The results were not known immediately.
Rajapaksa fortifies himself against JVP's hegemony
By inducting minority parties into his government, President Rajapaksa is indirectly challenging the rising hegemony of the radical Marxist and Sinhala nationalist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP).
The ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) depends for its survival on the JVP, which has a substantial representation in parliament.
But the JVP is a hard line party on the Tamil and economic issues. It is against Norway's involvement in the peace process and is opposed to the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) with the LTTE.
The JVP's hard line is putting the government in a tight spot vis-à-vis the international community.
Rajapaksa would like the JVP to join the government, as that would enable him to tame it.
But the JVP has said that it will not join so long as Norway is the peace broker and the government says it is for the CFA.
Recently, the JVP annoyed the President by sending its fiery leader Wimal Weerawansa to address army troops.
The opposition United National Party (UNP) warned the President that the JVP might use its clout with the army to stage a military coup.
The induction of Tamil parties like the CWC and UPF will not have been to the liking of the JVP, political pundits say.