TNA, SLMC Fight For EPC

slmc and tnaBy Waruni Karunarathne

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) expects the President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to safeguard the democratic process with reference to the issue on taking control of the Eastern Provincial Council (EPC).

TNA MP Suresh Premachandran said that the TNA met the President and the Prime Minister recently to seek their support in favour of TNA to obtain the chief ministerial position of the Eastern Provincial Council and form the provincial government.

“Right now the TNA is the single largest party in the Eastern Province and we have 11 seats whereas the SLMC has only 8 seats. Therefore even the President agreed that the TNA can claim to hold the chief ministerial position in the Eastern Provincial Council,” he added. However he said that since TNA does not have the absolute majority, they will need the support of another political party in the council to form the government.

The TNA had first sought the help of the SLMC to form the provincial council but they had refused. “It is democratically right for the TNA to form the Eastern Provincial Council and hold the chief ministerial position as the TNA has the majority. We wanted the SLMC to join us and we offered them two seats but they refused. We have now sought the support of the UNP,” he added.

According to him, the SLMC wants to the Chief Ministerial position based on an agreement they reached with the UPFA government.

Meanwhile, General Secretary of the SLMC Hasan Ali said that in 2012 they reached an agreement with the UPFA government where they agreed to let UPFA appoint the Chief Minister for the Eastern Provincial Council for the first 2 1/2 years whereas the SLMC appointed their Chief Minister for the next 2 1/2 years. “According to that agreement, this is our term and we have time until March this year. We lost our majority due to some crossovers. We had two rounds of discussions with the TNA asking them to let us maintain this status until the general election in April but the TNA wanted immediate change,” he added.

Hasan Ali said that the Muslims need their representation in at least one province out of the nine provinces whereas the Tamils have their representation in the North. “It is important for us to maintain this status at least until the general election,” he added.

A few rounds of meetings were held between the leaders of the TNA and SLMC to resolve this issue over the Eastern Provincial Council but they failed to reach consensus. When the TNA leaders met the President and the Prime Minister they had agreed that it was suitable to grant the Chief Ministerial post of the Eastern Provincial Council to Tamil National Alliance.