ORIGINSThe origins of the Tamil National Alliance lie in the East. The factor that triggered it off was the October 10th 2000 Parliamentary election. The results in the North-East sent shock waves to the Tamils in general and some Tamil parties in particular.
HETEROGENOUSThe seriousness of the situation was acutely felt in the ethnically heterogenous East rather than the near homogenous North. A seminar analysing the situation was held at the Eastern University. It was chaired by former “Daily Mirror” columnist Dharmalingam Sivaram alias Taraki. Several academics, journalists, teachers, professionals, social workers, undergraduates and political representatives participated.
EXPERIENCEThe TULF was also wary because of its 1989 experience. Pressure by New Delhi had resulted in militant organizations like the Eelam National Democratic Liberation Front (ENDLF) TELO and EPRLF contesting under the aegis of the TULF sun symbol along with TULF candidates. However none of the original TULF candidates won. Only Appapillai Amirthalingam got in through the national list (he had contested and lost in Batticaloa).
ANTIPATHYThe second was the long standing antipathy of the Tamil Congress towards the Federal Party (Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchi) and its successor the TULF. The Tamil Congress wanted all parties to unite under the Tamil Congress symbol of cycle and contest instead of the TULF’s sun symbol.
GALVANISEDAt the penultimate stages the LTTE in the Wanni got indirectly involved. Some leaders of the TULF, Tamil Congress, TELO and EPRLF were contacted by telephone and urged to unite and contest under the TULF “Sun” symbol. The LTTE factor galvanised the negotiating parties into concluding talks successfully
SALIENTThe first was about how places on candidate lists were to be allocated to each of the four parties in a Parliamentary General election. The arrangement was as follows:
FACILITATORThe facilitator panel or “anusaranaialar kuzhu” comprised the following six members:
CAMPAIGNWhen the election campaign got underway the LTTE did not openly support the TNA. The main reason for this was that the LTTE too was uncomfortable about this new development. The tigers believed that an armed struggle was the only way to liberate the Tamil people and ruled out the parliamentary path.
BATTICALOAIt is relevant to note that several of these Batticaloa journalists and academics who played a part in forming the TNA were killed later by para-military forces aligned to the intelligence apparatus of the state. Some were killed during the fratricidal warfare between the mainstream LTTE and the breakaway faction led by the Karuna-Pillaiyan combine.
RESULTSWhen the 2001 election results were announced the TNA contesting under the sun symbol of the TULF had done well.
POLITICALThe “unity” of the Tamil parties as the TNA seemed to have reaped political dividends. With Ranil Wickremasinghe becoming prime minister the peace process received a massive boost. The TNA was expected by many to function as the political front of the LTTE. When the TNA was formed there were some who thought the alliance would be to the LTTE what the “Sinn Fein” was to the Irish Republican Army (IRA). A few entertained hopes of the TNA playing a prominent role in the peace talks. This was not to be as the LTTE ruled out a political role at peace talks for the TNA at the outset.
MANIPULATEThis enabled the LTTE to manipulate and control each party separately. At the same time the tigers were pre-empting a parallel or rival Tamil political organization emerging or developing. Apart from preventing the TNA being concretised as a whole and independent party the LTTE also drove wedges between the parties.
ELECTIONThe election campaign commenced in earnest. The ceasefire accord of 2002 had paved the way for a tiger presence in government controlled areas in the form of political offices. Now these offices were stocked with tiger cadres. Their task was to do “propaganda” for the TNA.In Jaffna and Batticaloa the LTTE cadres together with pro-tiger student organizations in the Thirunelvely and Vantharumoolai campuses engaged in propaganda. In Jaffna a tiger motor cycle brigade went into action intimidating rival candidates like Aanandasangaree and Devananda. On polling day an active force of 5000 “volunteers” embarked on a gigantic vote rigging spree.
TWENTY-TWOThere were now twenty elected and two appointed MP’s. Of these twenty-two, eleven were from the original four constituent parties of the TNA. They were Sambandan,Thurairatnasingham, Senathirajah, Raviraj,Pararajasingham (TULF) Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam (ACTC)SElvam Adaikkalanathan, Vonoharahalingam. Sivajilingam (TELO) and Sivasakthi Anandan, Suresh Premachandran (EPRLF).
SERVITUDEThe LTTE also reduced the TNA to political servitude and ensured that such bondage was well publicised. The TNA was summoned frequently to Kilinochchi where the tiger political commissar Suppiah Paramu Thamilselvan would issue orders and instructions.
“PULIPPAATTU”Many including myself hoped that the TNA would make a clean break from the past after the LTTE was decimated in 2009.That however has not happened. In perhaps the greatest disappointment of all former Supreme court Judge CV Wigneswaran started singing the “Pulippaattu” (Tiger song)after being nominated as TNA chief ministerial candidate for the Northern provincial council
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