Split in TNA Likely to Affect Sirisena’s Chances in Poll
COLOMBO: The open split in the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) over the leadership’s decision to support the joint opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena in the January 8 election, may adversely affect Sirisena’s chances of victory against his rival, incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Tamil National Alliance stalwarts, Prof C K Sittampalam, Ananthy Sasitharan and M K Sivajilingam, on Saturday tore into the decision to support Sirisena, saying that the Tamil National Alliance should be neutral and merely ask the Tamils to vote according to their conscience.
Ananthy said that it is wrong to support Sirisena because one of his principal supporters is former President Chandrika Kumaratunga under whose rule forced disappearances of Tamil youth were galore. The Krishanthi abduction and murder case was a cause célèbre.
It was during Operation Riviresa, conducted under her regime, that lakhs of Tamils had to flee from Jaffna to the Wanni jungles. Sirisena was part of her government, Ananthy Sasitharan said.
“Sirisena has not had the courage to talk about the Tamil question in the run up to the election for fear of losing Sinhalese votes. How can the Tamils be persuaded to believe that he will address their demands after being elected?” Ananthy asked. Not more than 35 or 40 per cent of the votes may be polled this time, she predicted.
M K Sivajilingam charged that the Tamil National Alliance ‘s leaders had cast their lot with Sirisena after getting an assurance that the TNA will be given a place in his cabinet.
Sivajilingam then went on to warn that the Tamils will never accept any proposal to join a government in Colombo unless their long standing demands are met.
A Tamil National Alliance parliamentarian, who did not want to be named, said that the alliance’s leaders had not consulted anybody before pledging support to Sirisena.
Asked if the Northern Tamils will accept the decision, the MP said that people are “confused” and that the Tamil National Alliance is yet to begin mobilising the people.
“Polling will be as low as 50 per cent, with half of them voting for Rajapaksa. While Rajapaksa is better organised, being able to deploy government officers and the army to bring voters to the booth, Sirisena is not. He will be depending on the inactive Tamil National Alliance ,” the MP said.