In the immediate aftermath of its unprecedented electoral victory, the 28 elected members of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) passed a unanimous resolution on Monday to be transmitted to Northern Governor G.A. Chandrasiri, that C.V. Wigneswaran who topped the preferential vote list was their choice for the Chief Ministerial post. TNA General Secretary Mavai Senathirajah conveyed the party’s decision to the Governor on Tuesday.
In this respect, the party has acted as per the formal requirement in terms of the Constitution of the country. Yet, the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) apparently, await the arrival of President Mahinda Rajapaksa to decide on the appointment of the Chief Ministers and the Boards of Ministers.
For the TNA, this election was even more important than a presidential or general election since they considered it was the starting point of its political struggle for self-rule. Therefore, their eagerness for the constitution of this council is understandable.
Northern voters, who did not take serious interest in elections in the past, queued up in long lines at polling stations this time, and voted the TNA in, with a resounding majority. It will now become the only political party to govern a Provincial Council without being an ally of the ruling coalition.
The TNA polled even more than 80 percent of votes from the north, securing 30 seats including the two bonus seats in the 38- member council. In the wake of this victory, it is noteworthy to have a retrospective analysis on the circumstances that led to the reinforcement of their political ideology, espoused by the TNA ahead of the election. The ideology, chronicled in its election manifesto, was dubbed by the southern polity, as an extension of separatist agenda pursued by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) before their ultimate decimation on the narrow strip of land in Mullaivaikkal in 2009.
The formation of the NPC was projected by the TNA, obviously backed by countries such as India and United States (US), as a stepping stone in its struggle for greater autonomy for a merged north-east. The party asked for a two-third majority from people to present its case through the NPC, in this respect both for local and international forums.
For the mobilisation of voters for a political cause, some TNA candidates used inflammatory language glorifying and romanticising the separatist cause of the LTTE. Instead of senseless brutality associated with the LTTE’s armed struggle, TNA candidates dubbed it as an organisation with valour and heroism. The TNA is an amalgam of five parties- Ilankai Tamil Arachu Katchchi (ITAK), People’s Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE), Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (TELO), Eelam Peoples’ Revolutionary Party (EPRLF) and Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF). At least the founder leaders of three of these parties –PLOTE, TELO and EPRLF- were killed in cold blood by the LTTE after the advent of Tamil militancy. Even leading figures of TULF such as Neelan Thiruchelvam and S.K. Amirthalingam had their lives felled at the hands of the LTTE. But for political reasons, some TNA candidates refrained from making critical remarks on the organisation.
It is well understood that the communal message of the TNA has appealed to people in the north. Despite a fair amount of infrastructure development work – roads, railway lines and commission of a power station connecting the north with the national grid, the TNA humiliatingly defeated the ruling coalition.
The party won more than 84 per cent of the votes in Jaffna, 81 per cent in Kilinochchi, the capital of the de-facto state run by the LTTE before 2009, and 78 per cent in Mullaitivu. The development work and the absence of violence have not dampened the call for self-determination as evident from the results. War time disappearances of persons, heavy military presence, land grabbing were the issues that dominated the election stage of the TNA. In fact, TNA candidate Anandi Sashidaran, the widow of LTTE Trincomalee leader Elilan, solely campaigned for the rights of families of those disappeared. She even put up newspaper advertisements saying Tamil people sacrificed their lives not for development, but for liberation. In the list of preferential votes, she was the second. It is clearly a vindication of the stand taken by the TNA.
In the exercise of power by the TNA, there will be conflicts of interests between the Central Government and the NCP. Consequent developments will closely be observed by international parties. Already, the TNA has announced that it will turn to India whenever its activities are blocked through constitutional measures by the Government. There will be a great deal of bargaining with the Central Government when discharging its duties under the powers assigned by the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.
The TNA will also be under pressure to deliver what they promised to people. If they fail in this respect, they will be exposed before their own people. Or else, they will attribute their failure or inability to the lack of adequate powers devolved. Such accusations will bring renewed attention to those concerned on the need to work on devolution of more and more powers.
The interest of the international community is reflected in the press release issued by the US embassy on the election soon after the results were announced. While congratulating the people, the embassy said, “We remain concerned about reports of election violence, however, and urge a transparent and independent investigation into the various attacks and that the perpetrators be brought to justice swiftly. Particularly troubling, have been reports of involvement by uniformed individuals in these acts.
SLFP representation in Jaffna
The Government won only seven seats in the north. Of them, two seats belong to All Ceylon People’s Congress led by Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen, and another two to Eelam People’s Democratic Party of Traditional Industries and Small Enterprise Development Minister Douglas Devananda. Two Sinhalese members elected from the Vavuniya district belong to Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), the largest ally of the Government.
Despite the crushing defeat, the SLFP, as the largest ally of the Government, has a reason to be happy of this electoral out. For the first time in decades, the party has been able to ensure its electoral representation from the Jaffna district as a governing body in the north. The election of SLFP Jaffna organiser Angajan Ramanathan to the NCP itself is a victory for SLFP. Next to late Jaffna mayor Alfred Duraiappah, gunned down by the LTTE as its first killing on July 27, 1975, Angajan Ramanathan becomes the only SLFPer holding a high political office in the north. It is a noteworthy achievement since Jaffna remained an uncharted territory for political activities by the southern parties during the war time.
With the war being over, it has now been possible. Elated by this achievement, SLFP is now planning to carry out its membership drive in the north. The party’s re-organisation campaign called ‘Nil Rella’ is to be launched in Jaffna with the aim of consolidating this base.
In the two Sinhala majority provinces, the ruling coalition led by the SLFP was swept into power for the fourth consecutive time. Keenly observed by everyone was the election in the North Western Province where UPFA candidates Dayasiri Jayasekara and Johan Fernando were embroiled in a heated contest to be the first preference of people in the area.
After the victory, President Mahinda Rajapaksa who is in New York attending the UN General Assembly session, tried to call Mr. Jayasekara for congratulation. Yet, his phone number was either busy or switched off mostly during the day time. Finally, the President conveyed his message of congratulation through Vocational Training and Youth Affairs Minister Dullas Alahapperuma.
A unique feature of this election is the emergence of the Democratic Party led by former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka as the third political force, winning five seats in the North Western and Central Provinces. Mr. Fonseka registered his party after being released from jail.
"In the two Sinhala majority provinces, the ruling coalition led by the SLFP was swept into power for the fourth consecutive time. Keenly observed by everyone was the election in the North Western Province where UPFA candidates Dayasiri Jayasekara and Johan Fernando were embroiled in a heated contest"
Amid electioneering being at the zenith in the North Western province, there was a function to mark the inauguration of a new building complex at the Galgamuwa Hospital, funded by Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA). It was attended by Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena and Sabaragamuwa Chief Minister Mahipala Herath. JICA country representative Harumi Ao attracted the attention of everyone at this function, because he addressed the gathering in Sinhala upon request by Minister Sirisena.
"The TNA polled even more than 80 percent of votes from the north, securing 30 seats including the two bonus seats in the 38- member council. In the wake of this victory, it is noteworthy to have a retrospective analysis on the circumstances that led to the reinforcement of their political ideology, espoused by the TNA ahead of the election"
Despite discrepancies in the pronunciation of some Sinhala words, he even used formal Sinhala words such as ‘Wiyapruthi’ (project) holding the audience glued to his speech, which then received a thundering applause.
The Sabaragamuwa Chief Minister thanked Mr. Ao for his Sinhala speech despite being a Japanese national.
election results delay to release to make Angajan Ramanathan as a winner , he got only 4000 odd votes , But at counting the EPDP and UPF made some gimmicks and bring his votes as 10000; Whole Peninsula people knew about it :P
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