The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and its coalition partners including the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (TELO), Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF-Suresh wing) and the Democratic People’s Liberation Front which is the political wing of the PLOTE, have been in disagreement recently over difference of opinions.
The clash could escalate if the Central Committee of the moderate Tamil National Alliance (TNA) entertains a discussion on the recent anti-party activities of the increasingly radical Northern Province Chief Minister C V Wigneswaran,
It was reported that during the August 17 parliamentary elections, Wigneswaran had indirectly asked Tamils to vote for the radical Tamil National Peoples’ Front (TNPF), instead of his own party, the TNA.
However, political observers are surprised that the TNA is facing such a challenge after convincingly winning five out of the seven seats in the Tamil heartland of Jaffna, and after being named the official opposition in parliament. But in spite of that this present situation clearly shows the division between the moderates and the radicals which had always been an underlying issue within the TNA.
Some of the more radical parties within the TNA are not at all happy with the party’s close ties with the government and believe that the Tamil cause will not be addressed as a result. Even with regard to the UNHRC report and the investigations at hand, the radicals want an international probe into the war crimes charges plus an international judicial tribunal. The moderates say that an international probe has already been conducted and believe the Tamils should demand an international court to try those indicted in the report. They claim to have faith in the present government and have agreed to a domestic probe.
Conflict with Wigneswaran
The TNA had their executive committee meeting recently and the conflict with regard to Wigneswaran was to be brought up. However although it was discussed and some members expressed displeasure at the way he behaved during the parliamentary elects, and wanted some action to be taken. Then it was decided that Sampanthan and Mavai Senadhiraja would have talks with Wigneswaran informally and settle the issue. However no such talks have taken place so far and they have not approached each other, and Wigneswaran has seen the writing on the wall and has refrained from making any drastic statements recently, siding with the extremist parties. Also the Northern provincial council has not passed any more resolutions which are very hyperbolic such as genocide and the likes. As a result what has happened is some radicals are not at all happy that the TNA is entirely with the government, and have privately complained, but they are all observing restraint and have not come out with any of their opinions openly.
As for Suresh Premachandran the leader of the Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front(EPRLF) he is very disappointed to have lost the election and also not at all happy for being removed as the spokesman of the TNA. However although the TNA has appointed Sumanthiran as the spokesman, and the fact that he is not always available for comment, people are still approaching Premachandran for comments regarding the TNA and he is giving views contrary to the party stand. The TNA is yet to address this issue as there need to be someone who is readily available for comments or else they will certainly be approaching people such as Premachandran who might jeopardise the party stand. But currently there is a rather eerie silence within the party with regards to the internal disputes and difference of opinion, but it is believed that all of them know which side the bread is buttered, so to speak and are playing their cards accordingly.
When asked about the current dispute within the TNA, Leader of ITAK MP Mavai Senathirajahtold The Sunday Leader that he had just returned from India and he had to access the present situation within the party in order to formulate a solution to the issue.
He said that since he had been overseas, the meeting with Wigneswaran had not been possible, but assured that the internal differences of opinion between the partners of the TNA would be resolved and that it would not have any impact on the future of the party. He said that despite speculation that the party might split as a result of these disputes, he was certain that these issues were nothing serious and it was natural for parties in a coalition to have differences of opinion and these issues within the TNA too would be resolved amicably. He expressed faith in the TNA leadership and said that all parties were committed to serving the Tamil people and would resolve these minor disputes within the party.
However the Leader of the EPRLF Suresh Premachandran said that the difference of opinion is still very prominently there within the TNA and the ITAK is heading on their own path, despite the concerns of the other parties within the coalition. “Last week we had a meeting in Colombo but no proper solution was reached with regard to the issues. Many things were discussed but there is no change in the current stance.
Everyone in the party wants to have a proper structure for the party, as we believe that the TNA should be a structured organisation. However ITAK is not willing to come forward to do that and even after the meeting was held, there is no change in their stand and the issues remain the same,” he said.
When asked if these internal issues would have a negative bearing on the upcoming local government elections he said that it is too early to predict as a definite date for the elections were not decided upon as yet. Ï don’t know when the election will take place but its too early to predict how it will affect the part as such, added Premachandran.
Party not in danger
Commenting with regard to the possibility of other parties capitalising on the current situation within the TNA, he said that in spite of the disputes and difference of opinion, the party is in no danger whatsoever. Ï don’t think Anandasangaree’s approach is correct because Karuna as far as I know is still in the SLFP. So I don’t think that any other party will be willing to join a party with Karuna in it. Moreover there have not been any discussions with Anandasangaree and I don’t think this plan will work,” he said.
Premachandran said that as for him he had been a part of the TNA from the very beginning and there is no second thought about breaking away. He said that whatever the internal disputes are they will resolve it and it will not affect the overall functioning of the party. “We will see how best to resolve the issues within the TNA and lets see what will happen in the future.”
Further commenting on the rift within the TNA, Northern Provincial Councillor M.K.Sivajilingam said that there was no major rift within the TNA and that the coordinating committee meeting was held on October 25,and again in Colombo on Thursday evening and these minor disputes will be resolved. “With regard to the registering of the party too there were differences of opinion but nothing serious enough to break up the party as speculated. There are others who are not happy at the TNA leadership’s close ties with the government, but these sort of disputes are prevalent in every party and this is nothing to take very seriously. Whatever minor disputes within the party is nothing serious enough to speak of outside the party,” he assured.
Meanwhile PLOTE leader Dharmalingam Sidharthan speaking to The Sunday Leader said that the TNA meeting on Thursday was postponed due to a minor illness of the leader Sampanthan. But he denied theories that there were major rifts within the TNA and that the party was under strain. Ï don’t think that there is a huge problem within the party as such but the problem is that the ITAK is doing things according to their free will, which is irritating the other parties. Certain things which is not to the liking of the other parties is the main reason behind the disputes. But having said that, our party leader Sampanthan assured us that these issues will be ironed out and a solution will be sought. But of course he says that all the time. So let’s wait and see what he is going to do.”
Sidharthan said that the proposed meeting between Sampanthan, Senadhiraja and Wigneswaran had still not taken place, in spite of assurances that the matters would be discussed and resolved. “It is true that Wigneswaran has a lot of difference of opinions with the party leadership and several others, but I don’t think it will create any split in the TNA as a result of this,” he added. However he said that all these issues will not have a bearing on the commitment of the party towards the Tamil people and assured that the TNA is totally committed to the welfare of the people in spite of these minor differences.
The TNA is expected to meet again on Wednesday to discuss these issues and try to find an amicable solution to the trivial hiccups within the party.