The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) is in a quandary over the ongoing large scale Indian funded projects meant to facilitate post-war reconciliation process.
The five-party TNA on Monday (October 13) boycotted the inauguration of the 38 km Pallai-Jaffna railway line with the participation of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Indian High Commissioner, Y.K. Sinha joined President Rajapaksa at the inauguration ceremony.
Addressing officials in Jaffna, a smiling President Rajapaksa declared that former battlefields had been now turned into paddy fields. Some of the bloodiest battles were fought along the Kilinochchi-Jaffna stretch of the road.
India has provided a USD 800 mn concessional credit line in accordance with the Indo-Lanka joint declaration issued on June 9, 2010, at the conclusion of President Rajapaksa’s visit to New Delhi.
Leader of the Illankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK), the dominant party in the TNA, Mavai S. Senathirajah, MP yesterday said that it was Northern Province Chief Minister, C.V. Vigneswaran’s prerogative to decide on the TNA’s participation.
Senathirajah said that he couldn’t talk further on the issue as he had returned from the UK on Monday. Senathirajah was responding to a query by The Island yesterday.
The TNA also boycotted the inaugurations of previously completed segments (Medawachchiya-Madhu road opened on May 14, 2013, Omanthai-Kilinochchi opened on September 14, 2013 and Kilinochchi-Pallai opened on March 4, 2014). President Rajapaksa inaugurated the Omanthai-Kilinochchi segment.
Asked whether the Indian High Commission extended an invitation to CM Vigneswaran or the former Supreme Court judge explained the TNA decision to boycott the event, Indian High Commission spokesperson, Esha Srivastava said that it was an event organized by the government of Sri Lanka. Indian High Commissioner Y.K Sinha, too, was an invitee of the Sri Lankan Railways.
Indian High Commission organized an international media tour of Jaffna peninsula to explain the project undertaken by IRCON International Limited, a public sector enterprise to construct the northern railway line. IRCON is also engaged in building the Madhu- road-Talaimannar section as well as Jaffna-Kankesanthurai section.
The spokesperson, in a special statement issued said that the operationalisation of the Northern line would restore connectivity not only within the Northern Province, but also with the rest of the country, thereby promoting development, reconciliation and greater integration by bringing people in different parts of the country closer. Having described the restoration of the northern railway line represented historic partnership between the two countries, the spokesperson said as Sri Lanka’s closest neighbour and long-standing partner, India was prepared to extend its fullest support to Sri Lanka in fulfilling its aspirations for peace, harmony, national reconciliation and development.
Jaffna based sources told The Island that TNA MP Suresh Premachandran on October 8, explained his party’s strong opposition to President Rajapaksa’s visit to Jaffna peninsula for the inauguration of the Pallai-Jaffna section of the northern track during talks with a delegation from the US embassy in Colombo at Chunnakam, Jaffna. Premachandran has alleged that the President was coming to Jaffna to launch presidential polls campaign. Among the issues discussed were forthcoming presidential election and the TNA’s position.