NPC polls: ‘Seventh Schedule negates core of TNA manifesto’

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The TNA’s controversial manifesto calling for self-governance in a re-merged North-Eastern Province was just propaganda meant to draw voters as all those contesting the first Northern PC polls, on the TNA ticket, had furnished a letter each to the Elections Secretariat reiterating their commitment to the unitary status of the country in accordance with the ‘Seventh Schedule’ of the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution, Election Department sources said.

The then President J. R. Jayewardene introduced the Sixth Amendment on August 8, 1983 in the wake of the outbreak of Eelam War I.

Elections Department officials said that the ‘Seventh Schedule’ was applicable to all elections, including the presidential.

Each contestant had to reaffirm that he/she will uphold and defend the Constitution and won’t directly or indirectly, in or outside Sri Lanka, support, espouse, promote, finance, encourage or advocate the establishment of a separate state within the territory of Sri Lanka.

Responding to a query by The Island, sources pointed out that the TNA had, like any other political party in the fray, furnished letters guaranteeing their allegiance to the Constitution. Against that background, the much publicised TNA’s manifesto became irrelevant. Those who had voiced grave concern over the TNA manifesto had conveniently forgotten that whatever MP R. Sampanthan’s party propagated, it too, was committed to unitary status.

The TNA’s commitment to the Sixth Amendment had made the manifesto irrelevant, sources said.

The Elections Secretariat recently rejected nominations of seven candidates of an Independent group, contesting from the Kilinochchi District, on the basis that the document bearing the ‘Seventh Schedule of the Constitution had not been properly signed by one candidate who had lost his index finger due to the war.

Three disabled war victims and four others who had their nominations to contest the Northern Provincial Council polls rejected, have complained to the Court of Appeal that the aforesaid rejection by the Returning Officer for Kilinochchi was mala fide and arbitrary.

The petitioners are K. Dharmalingam and six others from Kilinochchi District.

Additional Elections Commissioner U. Amaradasa told The Island that whatever the circumstances, all candidates would have to fulfil the obligations in accordance with the ‘Seventh Schedule.’

Calling for the re-merger of the Eastern Province with the Northern Province, the TNA declared that the devolution of power should be on the basis of shared sovereignty, necessarily over land, law and order, socio-economic development including health and education, resources and fiscal powers

The TNA said: "To achieve the above including self-reliance it is imperative that we need self-government. We have set out a two-stage constitutional process to secure this. Whilst we do our utmost to play a positive role in promoting self-government for the Tamil-speaking people in the North-East, we will carry on with our political negotiations for meaningful sharing of powers of governance. We cannot emphasise more the immediate necessity for a democratically elected body with legislative, executive and fiscal powers — to take over those functions of governance rightly belonging to us."

Responding to a query by The Island, Elections Chief Mahinda Deshapriya said that all political parties including the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) had to accept the ‘Seventh Schedule.’ Although the Northerners would be voting at provincial council polls for the first time on September 21, the ‘Seventh Schedule’ had applied to all elections for over two decades, Deshapriya said.

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