S.J.V.Chelvanayagam Q.C. – Thanthai Chelva

god father selvanayagamOne Hundred Tamils of the 20th Century

S.J.V.Chelvanayagam Q.C. – Thanthai Chelva
31 March 1898 – 26 April 1977

“He died like Moses himself without reaching the promised land but the vision he saw, he leaves behind as the heritage and challenge to his people.” – Rt.Rev D.J. Ambalavanar at the funeral of Thanthai Chelva, April 1977

“Throughout the ages the Sinhalese and Tamils in the country lived as distinct sovereign people till they were brought under foreign domination. It should be remembered that the Tamils were in the vanguard of the struggle for independence in the full confidence that they also will regain their freedom. We have for the last 25 years made every effort to secure our political rights on the basis of equality with the Sinhalese in a united Ceylon.

“It is a regrettable fact that successive Sinhalese governments have used the power that flows from independence to deny us our fundamental rights and reduce us to the position of a subject people. These governments have been able to do so only by using against the Tamils the sovereignty common to the Sinhalese and the Tamils.”

“I wish to announce to my people and to the country that I consider the verdict at this election as a mandate that the Tamil Eelam nation should exercise the sovereignty already vested in the Tamil people and become free.”  Statement by S.J.Chelvanayagam after winning the by-election for the Kankesanturai Parliamentary seat, held belatedly on 7 February 1975, two years after he had resigned the seat to seek a mandate for Tamil Eelam

What was Mr.Chelvanayagam’s achievement? About 450 years before the Christian era the Carthaginian armies invaded Italy and defeated the Romans in every battle; but Cincinnatus, the Roman Dictator would not give up. And the Roman Senate passed a resolution thanking him, because ‘he had not despaired of the republic’. The logic was ‘if he did not despair, why should we?’. The Tamils of Ceylon, in like manner, looked upon this gaunt and haggard man, stricken by disease, who could hardly walk and could hardly speak above a whisper, who through a life of continued failure and disappointment, yet had not despaired; and they asked themselves, the question, ‘if he did not despair, why should we?’ This then is Chelvanayagam’s achievement: That he has taught the Tamils of this country to believe in themselves.” – Late Rt.Rev.S.Kulendran, Bishop of Jaffna, Church of South India

Thdanthai Chelva’s 109th Birth Anniversary Commemorated in Tamil Eelam, [TamilNet, Saturday, 31 March 2007]

Mr. S.J.V.Chelvanayakam, founder of the Ilankai Tamil Arasu Katchchi (ITAK) and fondly called by Tamils as “Thanthai” (father) was remembered on his 109th birthday on 31 March 2007, as Jaffna Bishop of South Indian Diocese Rt Rev.Jebanesan, Thanthai Chelva Trustee, garlanded the statue of late leader Mr.Chelvanayakam located near the Duraiappah stadium in Jaffna within the High Security Zone (HSZ) at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, sources in Jaffna said.

More than 50 members of the public paid floral tribute to the late leader’s statue. Former Jaffna Municipal Council Commissioner, K Sivagnanam, historian, K. Kunarasa also participated in the ceremony.

Special prayers also were held in several hindu temples and churches throughout Jaffna to mark the occasion, organizers said.

Mr. Samuel James Velupillai Chelvanayakam (SJV) was born on 31st March 1898, in the Malayan town of Ipoh, to Viswanathan Velupillai, a businessman, and Harriet Annamma Kanapathipillai. He moved with his mother to Tellipallai in the Jaffna district when he was four years old to be educated in Jaffna.

SJV qualified as an advocate of the Supreme Court of Ceylon and in 1927 married Emily Grace Barr Kumarakulasinghe (Rathinam). He fomally entered Tamil politics in 1944 when the British government announced the appointment of Soulbury Constitution. At that point, Tamils decided that they needed to create a political organization to formulate their demands and articulate these to the Commission.

It resulted in launching the All Ceylon Tamil Congress (ACTC) by the late leader Mr.G.G.Ponnamabalam with Mr. Chelvanayakam as one of its principal organizers.

Later in his political life ‘Thanthai’ Chelvanayakam started advocating a separate Tamil state in the island to regain the lost sovereign of Tamils under the administration of Britishers.

The goals for a separate state were ratified in the Vaddukoddai resolution of 14th May 1976 at the first national convention of the TULF under Mr. Chelvanayakam’ chairmanship.

The historic pronouncement made by Mr. Chelvanayakam at the Vaddukoddai convention accused the then Prime Minister, Mrs. Bandaranaike, of having “callously ignored” the TULF’s “last attempt …to win constitutional recognition of the Tamil Nation without jeopardizing the unity of the country.”

The convention called on “the Tamil Nation in general and the Tamil youth in particular to come forward and throw themselves fully in the sacred fight for freedom and to fight till the goal of a sovereign socialist state of Tamil Eelam is reached.”

Till his death on April 26th in 1977, Mr. Chelvanayakam was the acknowledged leader of the Tamil people. He was the only statesman to be returned in five general elections in a row and to remain a hero and a father figure to his people for thirty-three years. Mr. Chelvanayakam passed away on April 26, 1976 in Jaffna, a few days after celebrating 78th birthday.

Twenty-two Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarians representing the northeast in the current parliament contested the 2004 parliamentary election on April 2nd on the ITAK ticket founded in 1949 by the late leader Mr.Chelvanayakam, political sources said.

The man and his mission – M.K. Eelaventhan, General Secretary, Tamil Eelam Liberation Front 27 April 2003 – 26th Death Anniversary

“His life was gentle and the elements so mixed in him that nature might stand up and say to all the world – ‘This was a man!’ – Shakespeare

S. J. V. Chelvanayakam the founder president of the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi, co-president of the TULF, above all the undisputed beloved leader of the Tamils threw away his mortal framework and has gone to the land of no return. He passed away on April 26, 1977 roughly a month after the freedom lovers had celebrated his entry into the eightieth year. The wonder in Mr. Chelvanayakam was that though he was very old and in declining health he was not classified as a person who had outlived his usefulness. It was strange but true that even contradictory forces valued his presence in Tamil politics as the main unifying factor.

In fact the death of Samual James Velupillai Chelvanayakam, as his full name goes, removed from the political scene, a fatherly figure who was respected, loved, admired and venerated by all irrespective of their political ideologies. Many leaders were respected and admired but only few have been venerated. Mr. Chelvanayakam ranks foremost among them. Politics is a dirty game but it must be said to his eternal credit that he purified it to a very great extent.

When many politicians formulated policies to suit the next election, Mr. Chelvanayakam thought and acted in a manner that would give an everlasting solution to the future generations. That’s why he was not classified among the ordinary politicians.

He was an ascetic, a saint, and a statesman of colossal stature. In fact he was a leader who could not be bought over for the plums of office.

He spoke less and wrote less, but his thoughts were profound. Every word he uttered was measured and was meaningful. His concern was more for the content of the words than for the beauty of words. A leader must lead and never be led. In keeping with this concept he led the Tamil masses and he was never led by them. But as a true leader, he was always conscious of the aspiration of the masses. He read their pulse in a perfect manner.

Mr. Chelvanayakam really entered politics in his late forties, in the year 1947. His hold on the Tamil masses and the respect he has earned from non-Tamils and his political opponents continued undiminished.

That speaks for the quality of the man. The Sinhala political parties and the Sinhala masses, though, opposed to his political philosophy, felt his continued presence necessary to prevent Tamil “extremists” taking an upper hand.

The Tamil youths remember with deep gratitude his political vision and prophecy. We fear to think as to what would have happened to the Tamils if he had not entered the political scene in the late forties to guide them. It won’t be considered an exaggeration to say that if he had not taken to politics not only Tamil rights but even the Tamils as an entity would have ceased to exist.

Ceylon has witnessed the birth of innumerable politicians but it is not difficult to count on one’s fingers the number of statesmen produced by this island. Mr. Chelvanayakam ranks foremost among the statesmen Ceylon has produced. After Sir P. Ramanathan and Sir P. Arunachalam the vacuum that was created, though filled to some extent by the late G. G. Ponnampalam was not sustained by him. It is to the eternal credit of Mr. Chelvanayakam that he has filled this void in a most able manner.

Though Mr. Chelvanayakam may not have attained such eminence as the Ponnampalam brothers yet he stands unique for his political vision, sagacity and honest conviction. It was a Herculean task he had to perform to convince the Tamils of the dangers that were in sore for them. The Tamils are now convince as to what political philosophy they should adopt if they are to survive in this country as a separate entity preserving their language, culture, civilization and their way of life.

As to how much our Sinhala brothers are convinced about our problems and as to how far they are prepared to concede our rights remains a debatable point. But it is beyond doubt that all Sinhalese are now convinced that there is a gigantic Tamil problem and that it should be solved if there is to be real peace, harmony and progress in the country. Mr. Chelvanayakam stood for a federal constitution for the past 25 years or more as the ideal solution for the multi-lingual and multi-national problems facing the country.

He pursued this policy with the sincere hope of changing the hearts of the Sinhalese leaders. After having agitated for this goal and after the repeated disappointments on talks and pacts he had with the successive Sinhala governments, he came to the irrevocable decision of having a sovereign Tamil State – Tamil Eelam State, as the only solution left for the Tamils if they have to live with self respect in this country.

This was not an easy decision. For Chelva it was a very painful decision knowing quite well the consequences that would flow from implementing same.

Mr. Chelvanayakam was by no stretch of imagination an orator. Oratorical skill was something unknown to him. But where brilliant orators and legal luminaries could not succeed, he succeeded immeasurably. When he spoke in an inaudible feeble voice measuring each word and pausing in between words, the audience tuned their ears to grasp the meaning of what he said because each word he uttered conveyed deep and profound thoughts. It was really a treat to listen to his speech and watch the reaction of the audience.

In his personal life he was simple. His residence at Tellipallai, Jaffna, and his rented house in Colombo revealed his simplicity. Anybody could meet him at any time and explain their problems. His patient hearing and above all his natural smile had a magnetic and a soothing effect on all who came in contact with him.

In Ceylon many enter politics with little wealth but amass wealth during their political careers. Mr. Chelvanayakam’s career was just the reverse. As a leading civil lawyer he was very wealthy when he entered politics, but at the time of his death it can be said without contradiction that his wealth was at its lowest ebb. That speaks volumes for the enormous sacrifices he has made for the cause he championed.

Mr. Chelvanayakam who was a man of few words deep thought was an outstanding civil lawyer. Unlike some lawyers who for their love of words have lost their cases, Mr. Chelvanayakam was extremely careful in choosing his words. In fact every word was measured and uttered. If he was ever guilty of anything when choosing his words it was more the case of understatement than overstatement. It was often said that he used Biblical language. At the negotiating table he was at his best.

He was a hard bargainer who never yielded on fundamentals. The BC pact was a classic example of his grasp of the essential. Though Mr. Chelvanayakam was very often compared with Gandhi for his political honesty it would not be wrong to compare him with Jinnah for his grip and determination and or his unyielding attitude on fundamental issues. Typical of an able civil lawyer he knew how an where he should lay the stress.

Among the Tamil leaders only a very few have emphasized the preservation of the traditional homeland as an essential ingredient for the survival of the Tamil community. Mr. Chelvanayakam excelled in this thinking far above all leaders. “What the body is to a soul is the land to a linguistic group”. It is necessary for its self-expression.

This undeniable truth had been repeatedly emphasized by Mr. Chelvanayakam and the Tamils are now much more conscious of this issue than any other issue that is facing them.

In conclusion Mr. Chelvanayakam was a rare phenomenon in Ceylon politics, a type of which may not appear in the future. Whether anyone agreed with this political philosophy or not it is readily accepted that his impact is permanent in the political sphere of this country. Mr. Chelvanayakam was essentially a man of peace. He liked to find solutions to problems in a peaceful manner.

But certainly he did not desire the peace that prevails in the graveyard. He wanted peace with honour. He was a political prophet nay a messiah who had shown the promised land to the Tamils.

It is left to the Tamils to achieve it and for the Sinhala brothers to readily concede and prove to the world that they believe and practise the Buddha Dhamma in its purest form.

It is only in the creation of a Tamil state that a true spirit of friendship and cordiality could prevail between the Sinhala and Tamils on a permanent and everlasting basis.Chelva-Protest

On 27th death anniversary of S. J. V. Chelvanayakam – C. V. Vivekananthan, Attorney-at-law, 27 April 2004

Samuel James Veluppillai Chelvanayakam departed this life on the 26th day of April 1977, two decades and seven years ago.

He was born in Malaysia on 31st March 1898, one century and six years ago. He received his secondary education at the Union College, Tellippalai and later became a student at St. Thomas College, which was at that time situated at Modera. He was a contemporary of S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike.

At the age of nineteen, he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree. Soon after his graduation, he became a teacher at St. Thomas’ College, which was by then shifted to Mount Lavinia. Later he moved to Wesley College and pursued his studies in law at Law College. He became an advocate in 1923 and the dignity of silk was conferred on him in 1947.

In 1927, he married Emily Grace Barr Kumarakulassinghe. At his wedding day, he wore ‘verti’ and ‘Salvai’, the Tamil national dress in lieu of the Western attire, which was the prerequisite customary dress among the elite Tamils of the day. He was a Tamil nationalist to the core. Chelvanayakam once went to the classroom at Wesley College in Tamil national dress.

The national dress was looked down, as it was then perceived by the Ceylonese elites as the dress of the ‘rustic natives’. The Principal expressed dissatisfaction that promptly made Chelvanayakam to tender his resignation.

An ad hoc body was formed to make representations to the Soulbury Commission on the demand of fifty fifty – a demand for balanced representation for the minorities within the unitary character of the Constitution. The ad hoc committee was transformed into Tamil Congress in 1944 just before the arrival of the Soulbury Commission. G. G. Ponnambalam became its President while Dr. Naganathan was its Secretary.

Chelvanayakam became its Deputy Leader.

Chelvanayakam, being a Tamil Congress candidate defeated the UNP candidate, S. Nadesan (Nadesapillai), son-in-law of Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan at Kankesanthurai Constituency in 1947.

On the basis of ‘responsive cooperation’, Ponnambalam wanted to join the UNP Government while Chelvanayakam opposed his decision to join the government. Despite the vociferous opposition of Chelvanayakam, Vanniyasingam and Dr. Naganathan, Ponnambalam, joined the Government and became a Minister in September 1948 under the premiership of D. S. Senanayake.

Federal party

There was political tug-of-war between Ponnambalam and Chelvanayakam in making claim to the Tamil Congress and finally Chelvanayakam inaugurated the Federal Party on 18th December 1949.

In the General Elections of 1952, the newly formed Federal party won two parliamentary seats, Kopay and Trincomalee. It failed to make any impact of political importance because the majority of the Tamils and the Tamil Congress, which dominated the Tamil political scene, then, believed their political salvation in unitary state under the leadership of the Sinhalese majoritarianism.

Chelvanayakam never changed his religious faith for the power of a seat in Parliament or to be a Leader of the Tamils, a community of which more than 85 percent were Hindus. Chelvanayakam was opposed in the General Elections of 1952 both by UNP and Tamil Congress candidates at the Kankesanthurai constituency.

It was predominantly a Hindu electorate. His opponents viciously reminded the electorate that a Christian should not represent the Hindu electorate. V. Navaratnam, who was described by Chelvanayakam as the ‘brain box’ of FP wanted Chelvanayakam to be photographed as accepting ‘kalanchi’ at Nallur Kanthasamy temple in order to send the message to the Hindu voters that Chelvanayakam was observing Hindu practices though being a christian. Chelvanayakam refused to be counselled to descend to pretensions of worship. He preferred to lose the elections rather than practising deception on the Hindu voters and embraced defeat by the UNP candidate, S. Nadesan.

Sinhala only movement

In 1956, a profound change took place in the political history of Sri Lanka. The forces of ‘Sinhala Only’ movement were spreading rapidly in the South. The General Elections of 1956 were fought on the language issue. The MEP led by Bandaranaike swept to power on ‘Sinhala only’. The ‘Sinhala only’ cry made so loud in the South burgeoned FP to victory in the Northern and Eastern Provinces.

In June 1956 when the Sinhala Only Act was brought in Parliament, the Federal Party, headed by Chelvanayakam staged protest by way of non-violent civil disobedience at the Galle Face Green as practised by Gandhi. That was the first Satyragraha campaign.

Due to the series of Satyragraha campaigns organised by the Federal Party, Bandaranaike signed a Pact known as Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam Pact on 26th July 1956, commonly known as BC Pact.

The UNP alleged that the Pact was a sell-out to the Tamils and the country was divided. JR Jayawardene organised Kandy march against the Pact stating that Bandaranaike sold North and East of Ceylon to the Tamils. The implementation of the Pact would have healed the political wounds of the Sinhalese and the Tamils and made Sri Lanka a peaceful homeland of all the ethnic groups.

JR, a Machiavellian of all times, disrupted a peaceful solution that would have made Sri Lanka once again the ‘pearl of the Indian Ocean’. Certain monks led by Budharakkita Thera and Mrs. Vimala Wijewardena, a Cabinet Minister too demanded the Pact be abrogated. Bandaranaike declared that the ‘Pact was no more’.

Dudley Senanayake – Chelvanayakam pact

The Sinhala Only Act was implemented in all its rigour with effect from 1, January 1961. However, the successive governments were reluctant to implement the Reasonable Use of Tamil and the Tamil Language (Special Provisions) Act. The failure to implement the Acts made Chelvanayakam to entertain an idea that they should become members of the government in order to minimise the grievances of the Tamils. So, in 1965 he helped Dudley Senanayake and his UNP to form a ‘National Government’. Consequently Dudley Senanayake – Chelvanayakam Pact was signed and the District Councils Bill was gazetted in 1968. The Bill was abandoned as there was strong opposition mounting in the country.

Thereupon, the FP withdrew its support but allowed Thiruchelvam to remain as Minister of Local Government and its representative. Thiruchelvam appointed a committee to look into the question of declaring the Koneswaram Temple area a sacred city. The high-profile Buddhist priest from Seruwila electorate led a protest delegation to the Prime Minister. The priest perceived that declaring the surrounding area of the Temple a protected area was a ploy to divide the country. The Prime Minister dissolved the committee and forced Chelvanayakam to leave the Government.

Though Chelvanayakam was agitating for a federal unit for the Tamils in the Northern and Eastern Provinces under a federal form of government, he was only striving to attain some autonomy for the Tamils within the framework of ‘a quasi-nationalism’.

He descended from federal unit to Regional Councils and District Councils. He demonstrated his willingness to compromise by accepting special provisions for the use of Tamil Language instead of parity of status.

His dedication to the cause of the Tamils was supreme and unshakable. He believed sincerely that he could find satisfactory reasonable solutions from the Sinhala leadership through parliamentary devices. Chelvanayakam honestly hoped that he would be able to convince the Sinhala leaders that a federal form of government was the answer to the problems that faced Sri Lanka and the Sinhalese would accept at least a kind of federalism in the interest of preserving the territorial integrity of the country.

He wanted to build a united Sri Lanka out of her diversity. Moses, a biblical personality had great impact on him and Chelvanayakam too felt that he had to lead the Tamils to the promised land of federalism to which he was so incessantly dedicated.

Rights of Tamils

The actions of the successive governments in enforcing draconian measures depriving the Tamils of their due and legitimate rights and periodic Pogroms devastated the Tamils. All the democratic non-violence agitations and parliamentary devices promoted and practised by Chelvanayakam failed to secure the rights of the Tamils as the South never yielded to any kind of political accommodation.

The non-violent agitations were rendered irrelevant and unworthy of emulation. It was a sad state of political governance of the majority Sinhalese leaders that they refused to come to terms with Chelvanayakam who espoused non-violence, democratic principles and demonstrated willingness to settle problems of the Tamils for something far short of his original demands.

There is now a change of thinking among the Sinhalese and the Tamils that a reasonable solutions could be achieved on the basis of a federal formula as proclaimed in the Oslo Declaration. The achievement of a reasonable solutions depends on the leadership qualities that would be displayed in the future by both sides of the ethnic divide. Let us hope for a peaceful solution and a prosperous Sri Lanka.

  Thanthai Chelva remembered on 106th birthday, Tamilnet, 31 March 2004

The 106th birthday of the late Tamil leader and the founder of the Federal Party (Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchchi -ITAK), Mr.S.J.V.Chelvanayakam, falls on Wednesday 31 March 2004. Tamils in the country, who still fondly remembering Mr. Chelvanayakam as “Thanthai (father) Chelva,” will celebrate the late leader’s birthday Wednesday at a time when the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) is contesting the forthcoming general elections on the ITAK ticket, with its HOUSE symbol revived after 37 years, political sources said.

Mr. Samuel James Velupillai Chelvanayakam (SJV) was born on 31st March 1898, in the Malayan town of Ipoh, to Viswanathan Velupillai, a businessman, and Harriet Annamma Kanapathipillai. He moved with his mother to Tellipallai in the Jaffna district when he was four years old to be educated in Jaffna.

SJV qualified as an advocate of the Supreme Court of Ceylon and in 1927 married Emily Grace Barr Kumarakulasinghe (Rathinam). He fomally entered Tamil politics in 1944 when the British government announced the appointment of Soulbury Constitution. At that point, Tamils decided that they needed to create a political organization to formulate their demands and articulate these to the Commission.

It resulted in launching the All Ceylon Tamil Congress (ACTC) by the late leader Mr.G.G.Ponnamabalam with Mr. Chelvanayakam as one of its principal organizers.

Later SJV left the ACTC due to differences of opinion with Mr .Ponnambalam and launched a new Tamil political party, Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchchi (ITAK), also known as the Federal party (FP), in December 1949.

Mr. Chelvanayakam declared, “we want a federal constitution made up of two linguistic provinces with a federal centre at Colombo dealing with only defence, foreign affairs and inter-provincial communication. Each linguistic province will be its master in all internal matters.”

Tens of thousands ITAK activists marched from Point Pedro in the north and Pottuvil in the east (Thirumalai Yaththirai) to Trincomalee on foot and participated in the historical Trincomalee (Thirumalai Maha Nadu) conference in August 1957.

In that conference, Mr.Chelvanayakan issued a deadline to the incumbent Prime Minister, Mr.S.W.R.D.Bandaranaike, to fulfill several demands including the immediate halt on the State-aided Sinhala colonization in the Tamil dominated northeast, parity of status to Tamil language and to give self-rule to Tamils in the northeast under a federal constitution.

Mr. Bandaranaike, who was the President of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), immediately invited Mr. Chelvanayakam for political negotiations, which resulted in the signing of the historic Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam (Banda-Chelva) pact in the latter part of 1957.

The B-C pact envisaged a regional council for northeast, conferred with powers on land alienation and the amalgamation of north and east provinces into one. The United National Party, which was in the opposition at that time with Mr. J.R.Jayawardene at the helm, led a protest campaign against the implementation of the B-C pact, accusing that the establishment of a regional council in the northeast would lead to the formation of a separate Tamil state.

Later, Mr. Bandaranaike abrogated the pact, which was signed by leaders of the two communities for the first time in the history of the country to resolve the Tamil national question through negotiations.

Thereafter during the regime of Prime Minister Mrs. Srimavo Bandaranaike, in 1961, the ITAK led by Mr. Chelvanayakam launched a civil disobedience movement in the northeast province to win the lost rights of Tamils. A Satyagraha campaign was held in front of all government offices, including district secretariats in the province, thus bringing the central government’s civil administration in the northeast to a complete halt.

Mrs. Srimavo Bandaranaike restored normalcy in the northeast by declaring a State of Emergency and arresting Tamil leaders including Mr. Chelvanayakam, putting them under house arrest.

After 1965 general election when no major Sinhala political party in the south obtained an absolute majority in the parliament, the UNP leader Mr.Dudely Senanayake signed another agreement with Mr. Chelvanayakam, which was called the Dudely-Chelva pact, to resolve political demands of Tamils by establishing District Councils in the northeast province. As a result of that, the ITAK supported the UNP to form a government. However Mr.Dudely Senanayake later abrogated the pact due to vehement opposition from chauvinist forces, led by the SLFP, which was, then in the opposition, historical records say.

Thereafter an attempt to bring all Tamil political parties under one umbrella was mooted to take forward the freedom struggle. Hence the inauguration of the Tamil United Liberation Front in 1972 at a historical meeting held in Trincomalee with the participation of leaders of ITAK, ACTC and “Adanka Thamilar Munnani” led by Mr.C.Sutharalingam of Vavuniya when the SLFP government led by Mrs. Bandaranaike brought a new constitution ignoring Tamils’ demands and declaring the country a Republic by replacing the Soulbury Constitution, which provided some security to minorities through Section 29. Mr. Chelvanayakam presided at that meeting, sources said.

Later in his political life ‘Thanthai’ Chelvanayakam started advocating a separate Tamil state in the island to regain the lost sovereign of Tamils under the administration of Britishers.

The goals for a separate state were ratified in the Vaddukoddai resolution of 14th May 1976 at the first national convention of the TULF under Mr. Chelvanayakam’ chairmanship.

The historic pronouncement made by Mr. Chelvanayakam at the Vaddukoddai convention accused the then Prime Minister, Mrs. Bandaranaike, of having “callously ignored” the TULF’s “last attempt …to win constitutional recognition of the Tamil Nation without jeopardizing the unity of the country.”

The convention called on “the Tamil Nation in general and the Tamil youth in particular to come forward and throw themselves fully in the sacred fight for freedom and to fight till the goal of a sovereign socialist state of Tamil Eelam is reached.”

Till his death on April 26th in 1977, Mr. Chelvanayakam was the acknowledged leader of the Tamil people. He was the only statesman to be returned in five general elections in a row and to remain a hero and a father figure to his people for thirty-three years. Mr. Chelvanayakam passed away on April 26, 1976 in Jaffna, a few days after celebrating 78th birthday.

  Thanthai Chelva – 15 Death Anniversary Commemoration, 1992

“Thanthai Chelva was the elder statesman who opened the path for the present struggle of the Tamils. He had to carry the struggle forward under great difficulties. We of the LTTE accord Thanthai Chelva and his sincere followers a respected position in the Tamil Eelam liberation struggle.Even as late as 1985, the LTTE requested the TULF leaders, A.Amirthalingam, M.Sivasithamparam and R.Sampanthan to insist at least on a federal solution for which the Tamil Arasu Kadchi (Federal Party) was working. The TULF representatives who went to Colombo for talks instead of pressing for a federal solution, returned to Madras and reported how they yielded on many matters. According to them were able to secure only five percent of their demands. It was clear that they were willing to betray a cause for which the Tamils had shed blood for a number of years. We respect Thanthai Chelva and his sincere followers who made sacrifices for winning the rights of the Tamils. Thanthai Chelva kept alive the Tamil freedom movement .

Today, at a time when some who were with him have deserted and betrayed the cause, a new generation of youth are carrying the freedom struggle forward. This new generation salutes Thanthai Chelva.” – Yogaratnam Yogi, on behalf of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam speaking at a public meeting to commemorate the 15th death anniversary of Thanthai Chelva on April 26 1992 at Nallur, Jaffna