TNA consolidates with strong Diaspora backing



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By Shamindra Ferdinando


In the wake of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) winning the lion’s share of seats in the Northern and Eastern electoral districts at the recently concluded parliamentary polls, influential South African Tamil Federation (SATF) has reiterated its support to the four-party political grouping.


The TNA comprises Illankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK), TELO, PLOTE and EPRLF.


In a brief statement issued on Aug. 24, Nadas Pillay, on behalf of SATF said: "TNA’s victory sends a very clear message that the people in Sri Lanka want change and that change should take place immediately."


The TNA also received the backing of the UK headquartered Global Tamil Forum (GTF), Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC), Australian Tamil Congress (ATC), TNA UK and TNA Canada.


The hard-line Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF) failed to secure a single seat in five Northern and Eastern electoral districts. Diaspora sources told The Island that International Council of Eelam Tamils (ICET) threw its weight behind the TNPF. Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam’s TNPF also received the backing of the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE).Jaffna based sources told The Island that Gajendrakumar Ponnanbalam’s outfit had the backing of Northern Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran who went to the extent of publicly defying the TNA’s polls strategy on its behalf and issuing veiled backing for hardliners.


Moderate TULF, too, suffered a humiliating defeat at the Aug. 17 polls.


Rehabilitated ex-LTTE cadres failed to attract the Jaffna electorate in spite of fielding an independent group after the TNA declined to accommodate them. Ex-Tigers turned down a TULF offer to contest under its symbol.


Former EPRLF MP Suresh Premachandran, who had been taking an extremely hard-line stance vis-a-vis the state policy failed to retain his Jaffna seat. Premachandran was the main TNA casualty in Jaffna.


TNA heavyweight M.A. Sumanthiran yesterday told The Island that the grouping had received the overwhelming mandate of the Tamil speaking people living in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. Attorney-at-law Sumanthiran said that the Aug. 17 election gave the TNA an opportunity to further consolidate its position.


At the last parliamentary polls in April, 2010, the TNA secured 14 seats, including one National List slot. At the recently concluded polls, the TNA obtained 16 seats, including two NL slots.


Jaffna District MP elect Sumanthiran said that the ITAK, the main constituent of the TNA, secured 10 seats, including two NL slots, whereas TELO, PLOTE and EPRLF shared two seats each.


The remaining Northern and Eastern seats were shared by the UNP (1 in Jaffna, 1 in Vanni, 1 in Batticaloa, 1 in Digamadulla and 2 in Trincomalee), EPDP (1 in Jaffna), UPFA (1 in Vanni, 2 in Digamadulla and 1 in Trincomalee), SLMC (3 in Digamadulla and 1 in Batticaloa) and ACMC (1 each in Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Vavuniya).


Responding to allegations as regards appointment of two defeated ITAK candidates namely former MP K. Thurairatnasingam from Trincomalee and Shanthi Sriskantharajah from Vanni to parliament via the NL, Sumanthiran said that they were named after having closely considered the requirements of the districts of Mullaitivu and Trincomalee. Sumanthiran emphasized that Shanthi Sriskantharajah fell short of 302 votes to secure a place from the Vanni. The former NL MP pointed out that she was the only TNA woman representative named to the new parliament. Thurairatnasingam would have to play an important role in Trincomalee due to political veteran R. Sampanthan being deeply involved in critically important party matters, Sumanthiran said.


Sampanthan will continue to function as the leader of the TNA parliamentary group.


Authoritative government sources said that the TNA’s performance clearly reflected the electorate’s support for ongoing post-war national reconciliation efforts.


Sumanthiran said the TNA would pursue its strategies meant to guarantee the rights of the Tamil people.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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