| by Upul Joseph Fernando

( December 31, 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) In the backdrop of yesterday's decision by the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) to support common opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena at the upcoming January presidential election, it is appropriate to recall events and incidents within the TNA which happened behind the curtain. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) was the party which brought tremendous pressure on UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe to stay out of the presidential contest. TNA leader R. Sampanthan delivered this message direct to Ranil's face several times and it was no secret in the political scene.

Despite the announcement to support Maithri, it was clear that the TNA experienced division within the party. It is a fact that Sampanthan and Sumanthiran work in collaboration with India and western diplomatic circles, which back Maithri while people like Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam who are close to the Tamil Diaspora wanted the polls boycotted as done by Prabhakaran in 2005. They wanted Maithri to sign an agreement granting federalism and an international war probe on war crimes during the terrorist war.
Ranil decided to withdraw from the presidential race following tremendous pressure from Sampanthan. The TNA leader was of the opinion that Ranil cannot muster the Sinhala Buddhist vote. He knew that if Ranil contested, the Rajapaksa government would label Ranil as a LTTE sympathizer and defeat him through the Sinhala Buddhist vote. It is clear that the TNA had gauged the Sinhala Buddhist vote as the base to decide on which candidate it should support.

This position was met with stiff resistance from within the TNA. The first to voice opposition towards that stance was Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam. A Tamilnet report stated; "Tamil people should reject both Mahinda and Maithripala: Gajendrakumar.

The global and regional powers locked in a geopolitical gambling have brought a contest between Mahinda and Maithripala. Rajapaksa is a backed by China, while the West and possibly India back Rajapaksa's former associate Sirisena, said Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, the leader of Tamil National People's Front (TNPF) on Thursday.

Declared that there is no use for Tamil people by going behind any of the two mainstream candidates of the South in the upcoming Sri Lankan Presidential Election, the former Tamil parliamentarian, who addressed the press on behalf of the TNPF and the All Ceylon Tamil Congress, urged the Tamil people to refrain from backing any of the two candidates. The TNPF leader blamed the TNA for betraying the Tamil people for the second time as it did by backing Sarath Fonseka in 2010.

It is clear that the Tamil people reject Mahinda Rajapaksa, who instructed the brutal genocide of the Tamil people, Ponnambalam observed. However, there is a systematic and intended confusion being caused among the Tamils by the secretive approach being adopted by the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which seems to wait till the last minute and urge the Tamils to back Maithripala, who is just another Rajapaksa, the TNPF leader said. Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam declared that there is no use of bringing another Rajapaksa to power in the South. "This is not even a regime change. It is only a matter of changing the presidential figure," he said.

The powers will do whatever for their greed and Tamil people should not allow them being taken for granted in the geopolitical gambling of the powers, he said giving a historical analysis of earlier Sri Lankan Presidential Elections.

Post 17 years of UNP rule

After 17 years of UPN rule, Chandrika Kumaratunga came to power in 1994 with an overwhelming 62% of votes. Kumaratunga, who came to power with the promise of peace in the elections later waged a brutal war against Tamils claiming it as a war for peace, he said. The only leader at that time to warn the Tamils of the danger of electing Kumaratunga was Kumar Ponnambalam, he noted. Ranil Wickremesinghe came to power in 2011 with the promise of a ceasefire with Tamils and a political solution at a time Tamils had demonstrated their military and political power and the international community was pressing for a peace deal in 2004 to contain the situation. Ranil Wickremesinghe later claimed ownership for causing an international safety-net against the Tamils and for causing the Karuna defection.

The LTTE and the TNA urged Tamils to boycott the SL Presidential Elections in 2005. Even though many seem to come with the false claim that Tigers caused the victory of Rajapaksa, it was the Tamil stand-off boycott that gave space for Wickremesinghe to compete with Rajapaksa and reach a narrow margin of almost one lakh votes, Gajendrakumar said responding to a question by a reporter. The TNA in 2010 committed a blunder by urging Tamils to vote for Sarath Fonseka. Fonseka, who was the one who waged the war of genocide and is seen as a leader among the Sinhalese was defeated by 18 lakhs of votes. Sampanthan has later admitted the blunder committed by the TNA.

If the TNA and the LTTE had urged the Tamils vote for Wickremesinghe in 2005 instead of calling for the boycott, Wickremesinghe would have received far less votes from the Sinhalese, Ponnambalam observed. While Rajapaksa has proven his track record of committing genocide and the continuing structural genocide, the main opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena has denounced federalism and is not prepared for even the basic accountability in allowing for investigations of the brutal crimes committed against the Tamil people. Sirisena is being backed by the extremist Sinhala Buddhist JHU, JVP and others aligned with him, Ponnambalam said.

Responding to another question on why TNPF was reluctant to back a third candidate, Ponnambalam said his party was pondering upon the thought of backing a third candidate for a while. But, as he witnessed key members of such parties, despite having their own candidates in the presidential race, were calling on their members to back the common opposition candidate, the TNPF concluded that a such call was not worth the risk, he said."

The next to lodge protest was K. Sivajilingam, a close relative of slain LTTE Leader, Velupillai Prabakaran.

The Tamilnet quoting a statement by Sivajilingam reported; "Sivajilingam urges TNA to avoid backing any particular presidential candidate.

If the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) asks the Tamil people to back a presidential candidate, who is not committed to federalism and international investigations, it would only backfire on Tamils as the global powers representing the international community could cite our own stand against ourselves in the future, said former parliamentarian and TNA councillor at the Northern Provincial Council M.K. Sivajilingam, who addressed the press in Jaffna on Friday. The TNA should avoid backing a candidate, Sivajilingam said.

"When we complained to the international community that a former military commander was not acceptable to Tamils as governor to the North, the international actors questioned us how former commander of the SL Military, General Sarath Fonseka was then acceptable for the TNA in the Presidential Election held on 2010, Sivajilingam said.

None of the two main candidates, Mahinda Rajapaksa and Maithripala Sirisena, are prepared to accept international investigations. None of them are prepared to consider a federal solution to the national question. If we back any of these candidates, the international community would interpret our stance as a given to the policy represented by these candidates.

Sivajilingam said he was respecting the stand taken by Tamil National Peoples' Front Leader Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam.

He also added that Tamils could consider a third candidate, who recognises Tamils right to self-determination.

Unconditional support for Maithri

Similarly the Tamilnet reported a TNA, Ranil and Chandrika powwow in the following manner; "TNA agrees to hijack Tamils for 'unconditional' support for Maithri"

At a so-called high-level meeting held Monday in Colombo between the main delegation of the Sri Lankan Opposition and the constituent parties of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the national list Parliamentarian M. A. Sumanthiran has promised TNA's unconditional support to Maithripala, informed TNA sources told TamilNet. "The Opposition was not prepared to provide any assurance to Tamils. Suresh Premachandran of the EPRLF raised certain questions that on what promises the Opposition is expecting the support of the Tamils. There was none from the Opposition. The discussion on the topic was knocked down by TNA's national list parliamentarian in front of Chandrika Kumaratunga and Ranil Wickremesinghe," the source further told TamilNet. Any promise extended by the Opposition would be counter-productive as it would disperse the votes from the South, Sumanthiran, who dominated the agenda of the meeting, was telling the delegates. "I have met the grassroots in the North and East. 98% wants to support Maithripala. Only 2% is opposed to it," Sumanthiran has claimed. Three 'election campaign managers' were also identified from Jaffna, Vanni and Batticaloa on behalf of the TNA."

Despite the announcement to support Maithri, it was clear that the TNA experienced division within the party. It is a fact that Sampanthan and Sumanthiran work in collaboration with India and western diplomatic circles, which back Maithri while people like Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam who are close to the Tamil Diaspora wanted the polls boycotted as done by Prabhakaran in 2005. They wanted Maithri to sign an agreement granting federalism and an international war probe on war crimes during the terrorist war. However, Sampanthan is aware that by signing an agreement with Sarath Fonseka in 2010 was the cause of Fonseka's defeat. He exercised caution in dealing with Maithripala and thought not to enter into agreements as it would deprive him of the Sinhala Buddhist vote. When Fonseka contested, Sampanthan made a statement to a Sinhala newspaper stating the TNA extended support to Fonseka on condition. When Sampanthan is refraining from repeating that error, the Tamil Diaspora is insisting on Sampanthan to repeat the same mistake.

In 2005 Ranil did not agree to it...

In 2005, Prabhakaran attempted to enter into an agreement with Ranil using Thamil Chelvam. That proposal was mooted by Sampanthan. Ranil did not agree to it. Later it revealed that Prabhakaran had proposed it to crack Ranil's Sinhala Buddhist vote to give the edge to Mahinda because the LTTE leader wanted to ensure Ranil's defeat. It was also designed to corner Ranil at global level and get Mahinda to emerge into the international scene. The Tamil Diaspora is now trying to bring back Mahinda, already cornered in the global scene back to recognition in a bid to enter the scene. They are aware that if Maithri who has won the confidence of India and the West wins, the Tamil Diaspora would be cornered in the international scene and look like dud coins.

The upcoming poll will prove whether Sampanthan's TNA or the pro- LTTE Tamil Diaspora is able to lead the Tamils in the country's North and East.
Following the TNA decision to back Sirisena, the Tamilnet yesterday carried the following statement; "Despite strong opposition from various sections of Eezham Tamils against giving explicit support to any of the two main contestants in the upcoming Sri Lankan presidential elections, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Parliamentary Group Leader R.

Sampanthan has decided to support the Opposition Common Candidate MaithripalaSirisena. MrSampanthan announced the stance of the TNA Tuesday morning at a media briefing held at Hotel Jananaki in Colombo. MrSampanthan and M.A. Sumanthiran have been blamed for striking a clandestine deal with Chandrika Kumaratunga on backing MaithiripalaSirisena.

A few personalities claiming to represent the so-called majority view have imposed their decision as TNA decision on the Tamil people. "The political parties comprising the TNA have failed to learn the views of the Tamil people. Instead, they have only sought to manipulate the views before announcing their pre-determined decision," a TNA source told TamilNet.

TNA Parliamentarians MavaiSenathirajah, M.A.Sumanthiran, SelvamAdaikalanathan and SivasakthiAnanthan were seen with Mr.R.Sampanthan in the head table.

"Tamil people should realise that this group is trying to transform the nation of Eezham Tamils into a minority in the genocidal Sri Lanka," political observers in Jaffna said adding that some members of this group have already been promised with ministerial portfolios by Chandrika Kumaratunga.

Both the opposition candidates Sirisena and the incumbent SL president Mahinda Rajapaksa are opposed to international investigations and a federal solution to the national question".