Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Parliamentary group leader and veteran Trincomalee district MP Rajavarothayam Sampanthan has been recognized by the newly elected Sri Lanka parliament as the leader of the opposition.
An announcement to this effect was made by the Speaker Mr. Karu Jayasuriya in Parliament on September 3rd morning.
The speaker said that the house was recognizing Mr. Sampanthan as opposition leader in the absence of claims by any other political party or front. Mr.Jayasuriya said that neither the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) nor the United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) had made staked any claim for the Opposition Leader post.
At the Aug 17th elections the UNP led United National Front for Good Governance(UNFGG)won 106 seats in a 223 member Parliament. Its leader Ranil Wickremesinghe was appointed Prime minister.
The SLFP led UPFA obtained 95 seats. A section of the SLFP/UPFA opted to form a coalition govt with the UNFGG. A Memorandum of understanding was signed to this effect
The TNA with 14 elected and 2 national list seats became the third largest party in Parliament with 16 seats. Since the SLFP/UPFA had entered into an agreement with the UNP/UNFGG to form a Govt the TNA staked its claim to the opposition leader post as the largest political party remaining in the opposition.
Though 55 UPFA MP’s had sent a letter to Prersident Sirisena demanding that Kumara Welgama of Kalutatra district be made opposition leader that request was rejected by the President.
The new opposition leader Rajavarothiam Sampanthan was born 5 February 1933. He is the son of A. Rajavarothiam, Superintendent of Stores at the Gal Oya Project. Sampanthan is related to S. Sivapalan and N. R. Rajavarothiam both of whom were MPs for Trincomalee. He was educated at St. Patrick’s College, Jaffna, St. Anne’s College, Kurunegala, St. Joseph’s College, Trincomalee and St. Sebastian’s College, Moratuwa. After school he joined Ceylon Law College, graduating as an attorney at law
Sampanthan was the TULF’s candidate in Trincomalee at the 1977 parliamentary election. He won the election and entered Parliament. Sampanthan and all other TULF MPs boycotted Parliament from the middle of 1983 and Sampanthan forfeited his seat in Parliament on 7 September 1983.
Sampanthan re-entered Parliament as an MP From Trincomalee after his colleague A. Thangathurai was assassinated by the LTTE in 1997. He lost the 2000 elections but thereafter won from Trincomalee as a Tamil National Alliance candidate in the polls of 2001, 2004, 2010 and 2015.
Sampanthan married Leeladevi, daughter of P. K. Rudra.[ They have two sons (Sanjeevan and Senthuran) and one daughter (Krishanthini).