With Barathiya Janatha Party (BJP) returning to office in India, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) seems to be distraught somewhat. The TNA relies heavily on India to prevail upon the government of Sri Lanka to evolve a political solution acceptable to them. The party, under the leadership of MP R. Sampanthan engaged with the previous government of India led by Dr. Manmohan Singh, in this respect. However, the TNA has to make such engagements under a new government now in that country.True, the TNA leaders know of BJP leaders. But, they need to develop fresh contacts with the new government and engage with them more, to muster their fullest possible support for constitutional changes in Sri Lanka by way of a devolution package. It is an exercise that naturally consumes time though the TNA wants quick action.
Against this backdrop, it is the view of most political observers that the change of government in India is a blow to the TNA’s aspirations at this stage. Also, BJP government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi can act without being succumbed to the pressure of regional parties such as that of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa Jeyaram. Tamil Nadu used to determine the shape of India’s political relations with Sri Lanka under the congress government which remained a shaky coalition. But, BJP can have a different approach because it wields power with a majority in Lok Sabha .
In fact, Mr. Modi showed it at his swearing-in ceremony. He disregarded the protest by Tamil Nadu leaders including Ms. Jayalalithaa against the participation of Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the function to mark his swearing-in. Therefore, there are reasons for the TNA to be displeased about the change in India at the moment. Already, the party has sought meetings both with Mr. Modi and Ms. Jayalalithaa. It is too early for these two leaders to afford opportunities to meet with the TNA representatives.
With this lesson learnt, the government is to adopt a novel strategy in the Uva province where the election is slated to be conducted. The government members will speak more about efforts being planned for the improvement of people’s income level, rather than developing basic infrastructure alone
The TNA has been busy with political work in the Eastern Province on May 30 and 31. The party seniors, sans Mr. Sampanthan, were addressing meetings in the East. At one such meeting, TNA General Secretary Mavai Senathirajah collapsed, and his aides attended to him. He collapsed earlier too when he addressed a May Day rally in Vavuniya.
TNA- SLMC talks in Kalmunai
Besides, the TNA leaders engaged with Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) in Kalmunai last week to resolve the dispute on the creation of a new Divisional Secretariat in the area for ethnic Tamils. SLMC leader Justice Minister Rauff Hakeem also attended this meeting. The two sides agreed in principle to the demand of the Tamil members of the Kalmunai Municipal Council (KMC). KMC is controlled by SLMC. The TNA is its main Opposition. The Tamil members demand a separate Divisional Secretariat in Kalmunai for Tamils. However, the two sides decided to carry out the dialogue further because there is no agreement on the demarcation of boundaries for this division.
Already, a separate office has been established to discharge administrative work for the Tamil areas of Kalmunai. The TNA wants this office to be promoted to a separate Divisional Secretariat. Also, two parties discussed problems.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa warned all the Ministers at the last Cabinet meeting that they should act with collective responsibility, especially regarding the decisions taken by the Cabinet. At the meeting, the President briefed the Ministers about his visit to New Delhi and his meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi
SLMC needs engagement with TNA for another reason at this juncture. There is a school of thought within the TNA fold that SLMC is eager to have a political rapport with it at this moment for one main reason. The United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) holds power at the Eastern Provincial Council only with the SLMC’s support. SLMC, with its eight members, holds sway in the country in this manner. The party has supported the UPFA on one condition- the offering of the chief minister post to it on a rotating basis after two and half years. The council was constituted in 2012, and the first two and half year will end within the next few months. The government has to listen to SLMC in running the council. Otherwise, it can defect from the government and align with the TNA which enjoys 11 seats to capture the power of it. In fact, the TNA wanted at the beginning to form the council with the SLMC’s backing. But, the SLMC, as an ally of the government in the central administration, decided to remain with it in the Provincial Council too. The TNA, at that stage, even offered the Chief Minister's post to a member from SLMC in case it offers its support to get the power of this council.
A similar offer might come once the first half of the council ends. Therefore, the political climate is again getting favourable for the two minority parties to engage with each other.
Speaker refreshes his memory as a police officer
United National Party (UNP) MP Ranjith Madduma Bandara celebrated his 25th anniversary as a parliamentarian representing the Moneragala District. A major event was conducted in Moneragala on May 31 to mark the occasion. UNP National Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, Leadership Council Chairman Karu Jayasuriya, and other UNP seniors attended this event. Also, among the invitees were Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa and Uva Chief Minister Sashindra Rajapaksa.
At the function, the Speaker made references to the kind of personal friendship his family had with that of MP Madduma Bandara.
“When I worked as a police officer in Bandarawela, I got a transfer to Moneragala. Then, my father contacted MP Madduma Bandara’s uncle Dharmadasa Banda, and asked him to look after me. That is the kind of friendship we had,” he said.
MP Bandara’s father R.M. Gunasekara was also an MP. He got elected to Parliament in 1960 representing the Bibile electorate of the Moneragala district. Mr. Gunasekara was assassinated in 1994, and it was considered a political killing.
Mr. Gunasekara was a close friend of late President Ranasinghe Premadasa. Recently, Mr. Bandara, in his search for household items with historic value, found the wedding invitation card of the late President to his father at that time. Soon after he found it, he gave it to MP Sajith Premadasa, the son of the late President, to be preserved as an item with traditional and historic value.
A large crowd, representing a wider cross section of society, attended the event. The invitees were hosted for a lunch. But, for UNP MP Lakshman Kiriella, it was a bad day since he fell, and got his leg fractured. He fell since he could not see steps properly when walking up to the restaurant where lunch was served to the guests.
MR warns Ministers
President Mahinda Rajapaksa warned all the Ministers at the last Cabinet meeting that they should act with collective responsibility, especially regarding the decisions taken by the Cabinet. At the meeting, the President briefed the Ministers about his visit to New Delhi and his meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
He explained to the Minister how Mr. Modi stressed on the need for the meaningful implementation of the 13th Amendment, with police and land powers devolved to the provinces, as part of Sri Lanka’s reconciliation process.
Govt adopts new strategy in Uva
The government learnt a lesson from the elections to the Southern and Western Provincial Councils since its vote bank dwindled considerably. In the south, the government has executed its key development projects- a port, an airport and an expressway. But, the government could not retain its majority though it won the elections. The reason, the government analysts say, that none of these mega projects contributed to the increase of people’s income as such.
With this lesson learnt, the government is to adopt a novel strategy in the Uva province where the election is slated to be conducted. The government members will speak more about efforts being planned for the improvement of people’s income level, rather than developing basic infrastructure alone.
JVP braces for elections
Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) is planning to field two of its former MPs- Samantha Vidyaratne and Ramalingam Chandrasekara – to contest the Uva Provincial Council. Mr. Vidyaratne, noted for his fine oratory skills, will be the chief minister candidate. Mr. Chandrasekara, who is the former Deputy Chairman of Committees of Parliament, heads the party’s trade union wing in the estate sector.
JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, who addressed a series of meetings, in different parts of Europe, was to arrive in the country yesterday. The party says there is a great enthusiasm among its members domiciled in Europe for its political success in Sri Lanka.
The UNP has undertaken fact finding missions on the government’s development projects. Already, they have visited the port and airport projects in the Hambantota District. Education Minister Bandula Gunawardane, in the meantime, invited the UNP MPs recently to inspect schools developed under the secondary school modernization project.