People in Tamil Nadu are yet to hit the streets in joy over Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa conceding defeat to his challenger, but expect that to happen as the day unfolds, seasoned journalist R Bhagwan Singh said on Friday.
He pointed out that Tamil television channels had struck an upbeat note since morning.
“I expect people to do the same, come out, burst crackers and distribute sweets,” Singh, executive editor of the Deccan Chronicle daily said over phone from Chennai.
“It is a great day for democracy. This (result) gives Tamil people hope — in Sri Lanka, in India and everywhere else,” Singh, a longtime Sri Lanka watcher, added.
Websites of leading dailies in the state maintained a matter-of-fact tone in reporting Rajapaksa’s loss.
The Tamil edition of The Hindu went with a simple headline that read Rajapaksa accepts defeat, Sirisena crowned.
‘Rajapaksa ousted’ was what the Dinamalar daily’s site stated.
The Dinathanthi went for ‘Rajapaksa accepts defeat, vows smooth transitioning of power’.
People of Tamil Nadu are heavily invested emotionally in Sri Lanka, where the minority Tamil population has played second fiddle to the majority Sinhalese.
The Lankan government crushed the secessionist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) after prolonged military action in 2009.
Thousands of Tamil civilians — in some estimates as many as 40,000 — including women and children were killed in the final stages of the war, tens of thousands lost their homes and livelihood.
On what Rajapaksa’s loss means for India, Singh, who has reported extensively on Sri Lanka and the LTTE, said, “India did not help him in the final stages of the war because of pressure from Tamil Nadu. He turned to China and Pakistan.
Singh said this development was not good news for Delhi. Consequently, there had been talk of a regime change and “it was not limited to India”.
He expressed surprise that Rajapaksa went “so smoothly”, though the loss was expected.
“The Tamil minority will never vote for him and the Sinhalese vote split owing to a variety of factors including his family’s looming presence in every sphere and anti-democratic governance.”
According to Singh, Rajapaksa did not foresee the desertions even as his popularity slid. “Instead of being caught up in Tiger (LTTE) phobia, he should have opened up his heart after 2009.”