TNA, SLMC seek consensus on new Constitution amidst turmoil

by Shamindra Ferdinando

The TNA and the SLMC are seeking consensus on proposed new Constitution and electoral reforms.

Political sources told The Island that top level TNA and SLMC delegations had met at the Opposition Leader’s Office, Colombo 7 on Wednesday in the wake of newly established Tamil People’s Council (TPC), too, seeking to represent Tamil speaking people at future deliberations with other political parties as well as the government.

The TNA secured 16 seats including two National List slots at the Aug. 17 parliamentary polls. The SLMC won one seat on its own while several of its candidates were elected on the UNP ticket at the same election.

Northern Province Chief Minister C V Wigneswaran of the TNA, Dr P. Lakshman, Consultant Cardiologist at the Teaching Hospital, Jaffna and T Vasantharajah, the Secretary of the Batticaloa Civil Society co-chair the group.

Former Supreme Court judge Wigneswaran led the TNA to an overwhelming win at the first Northern Provincial Council polls in Sept. 2013.

Sources said with President Maithripala Sirisena and Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe declaring their intention to introduce a brand new Constitution within the next few months, the TNA and the SLMC were keen to reach an understanding on a set of proposals.

Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan, Parliamentarians Mavai Senathiraja and M. A.Sumenthiran represented TNA at Wednesday’s discussion while SLMC Leader Minister Rauff Hakeem, Party’s Deputy General Secretary and Mayor of Kalmunai Municipal Council Nizam Kariyapper, Former MP M. B. Farook and SLMC Foreign Affairs Director A.M. Faais represented the SLMC.

Sources stressed that the two parties wouldn’t compromise on opportunities currently available to minorities under the executive presidential system.

They said the TNA expected the government to deal with it in all relevant issues, including the formation of the proposed war crimes court in early this year. The TNA believed that the TPC’s endeavor could cause serious harm to their overall strategy, sources said.

There hadn’t been any discussion between the TNA leadership and Wigneswaran regarding formation of a separate outfit to represent Tamil speaking people, sources said. Sources pointed out that those who had been rejected by the electorate at the last parliamentary polls in spite of being backed by Wigneswarn were likely to exploit the situation. However, the TPC has publicly denied having any ulterior motive while declaring that its only interest is the well-being of the community.

Well informed sources told The Island that the TNA would remain an ally of the UK-headquartered Global Tamil Forum (GTF) with the primary focus on the setting up of proposed war crimes court.