State Minister Vijayakala Maheswaran raised some eyebrows with her recent speech where she admired the slain LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran as an exemplary figure. She praised him as someone of a higher calibre than leaders in world politics.
Some Sinhalese politicians dismissed this as an immature statement of a person who was making attempt to retain some popularity by a controversial statement on a terrorist leader.
However, Vijayakala Maheswaran's mistake of glorifying Prabhakaran blunted her message's real meaning.
She did not address the Sinhalese community. She was addressing the Tamil community and political leaders.
The key to this can be found in the words she spoke prior to glorifying Prabhakaran. She asks the politicians not to divide people on Jaffna or Kilinochchi basis. She also asks not to discriminate the fishing community. Recalling that Velvetithurai is also a fishing community, she says they also have people of good education.
It is as an example she recalled Prabhakaran. Then she went to glorify him.
This speech became controversial among the Sinhalese community because of this glorification. Her speech became controversial among the Tamil politicians because of what preceded her reference to Prabhakaran, which the Sinhalese community could not understand in general.
It should be recalled that the caste system plays a much bigger role in Tamil politics in both Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu, than in the Sinhalese community. Maheswaran herself is from Karainagar, where most people are fisher folk.