Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK) members and supporters in Mannar marked the 121st birthday of S J V Chelvanayakam today.
Chelvanayakam, who is fondly referred to as 'Thanthai Chelva' and the father of Tamil nationalism, was responsible for spear heading the Vaddukoddai resolution, which was overwhelmingly ratified by the Tamil votes in the 1976 parliamentary elections.
After representing the Tamil people for five general elections and experiencing repeated disappointments in over 3 decades of negotiation with the Sinhala majoritarian government, Chelvanayakam formulated the resolution, which remains a cornerstone of the Tamil movement for self-determination in Sri Lanka.
In the late fifties, Chelvanayakam signed the first ever pact between the Sinhala and Tamil community to resolve the issue of Tamil political demands. The Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam pact, signed in 1957, was soon abrogated by the then President however due to vehement opposition by Sinhala parties.
Following another decade of civil disobedience and negotiations, Chelvanayakam signed a pact to settle Tamil political demands with the then UNP leader Mr Dudely Senanayake. The 1965 general elections, which preceded the signing of the Chelva-Dudley pact, saw no Sinhala political party obtain an absolute majority in parliament. Despite having the support of the Tamil political parties in parliament Senanayake abrogated the pact as strong opposition once again arose in the Sinhala South.