The TNA List (Officially the Federal Party List) – A Break
The Northern PC nominations have been finalized by the major parties. The TNA has already filed papers.
The TNA Jaffna District list consists of a) Federal Party – C.V. Wigneswaran, C.V.K. Sivagnanam, S. Suhirthan, A. Ananthi, S. Paranchothi, S. Sivayoham, R. Arnold and for the breakaway Vinayagamoorthy-wing of the Tamil Congress in the TNA S. Sayanthan; b) TELO – M. Sivajilingam, V. Kanaharatnam, S. Kugathas; c) PLOTE – Tharmalingam Sitharthan, B. Kajatheepan d) TULF – Thambipillai Thambirasa, Kanthapoo Tharmalingam e) EPRLF – S. Sarveswaran, S. Ainkaranesan, R. Jeyasekaram, N.V. Suppiramaniam.
What is great for the TNA is its break from the past with only 3 Vellalas and very qualified low-castes on the list. The swing towards minorities had been so strong that the TNA was searching for Vellala candidates. Retired Management Dean M. Nadarajasundaram was approached but he declined. Also positively there are three women, Vaddukoddai’s Ananthi (the wife of the LTTE’s the late Elilan) and a teacher each from Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi. One of the latter is a Vice Principal and a Christian, probably Roman Catholic.
However, after the electoral rout of staunch LTTE backing MPs Gajendrakumar Ponnabalam, S. Gajendran and Padmini Sithambaranathan in 2010, the candidature of Ananthi is risky and unwise. She was brought in on the insistence of Kilinochchi-based MP Sivagnanam Sritharan. Her candidature questions the TNA’s claimed break with its LTTE past. She may win because of sympathy over how her husband was killed and his regional Trincomalee support which may then be wrongly construed as a vote for the LTTE. I hope Mr. R. Samapanthan and Justice Wigneswaran are alive to this issue.
In the old electorate days a party could pick a safe seat and place a woman or minority candidate there as a sure winner. Now with preferences there is no such assurance. For example in the local government elections where all preference votes could go to one candidate, educated communities were able to plan and get one of their own elected. Minorities and even women are rarely so well-organized.
The TNA has led by example on the representation of minorities. Given the new system it cannot do more. It is probably counter-productive for it to now at this stage ask for a particular person to be elected. So it is up to the people now.
Plans to include a Muslim on the Jaffna list seem to have gone awry as a result of lack of space because of many with strong claims staking their rights. As a result a Muslim Candidate will appear on the Mannar District TNA List.
The Islands and TNA Complacency
Unrepresented are the islands off Jaffna where Devananda’s armed men have previously murdered and chopped off the arm of TNA men going there to campaign and the courts have pliantly given bail to the assailants letting them go to London and live there in comfort. I hope that the TNA has not given up on the islands. If so that would be good news for Devananda.
Another danger for the TNA is its complacency partly seen in the neglect of the islands where they should make an issue of the rule by EPDP thugs, force a police escort and campaign vigorously in the presence of monitors despite all the dangers that would attend such a course. That is the leadership people expect. Instead the ground level complaint is that
“They came for the weekend, looked at their houses for repairs and returned to Colombo after filing papers. Only Mavai Senathirajah is expected to come back. They need to come, talk to the people and work for a victory instead of banking on a sure win while leading comfortable lives in Colombo. A victory is sure but it will not be as impressive a rout of the UPFA as it ought to be.”
The UPFA list seems to have been divided with 10 for Douglas Devananda’s EPDP supporters and 9 for Angajan Ramanthan’s SLFP supporters among whom he has been asked to include 2 from Sri TELO. This is a clear win within the UPFA for Devananda.
The Devananda list has been announced as follows: Former MPs Sinnathurai Thavaraja and K. Kamal, Jaffna Organizer I. Srirangeswaran, Vadamaratchi Organizer S. Balakrishnan, A. Soosaimuthu, former Director of Education Sundaram Divakalala, A. Augustine, Siharam journalist K. Rushankan, and the Plamyra Development Board’s S. Ganeshan.
Sundaram Divakalala is a prize catch in a party of marginal people but Divakalala has undermined himself, it is said, by sending feelers first to see if he can be on the Federal Party list. He has a teacher-training program and want jobs for his trainees or his and his program’s credibility will be gone.
Sri Lankan Democracy
In the meantime the JVP’s Sunil Handunnetti accused the intelligence services of grilling its Northern PC candidates on why they are contesting. It is good for a change to have Sinhalese joining Tamils in their routine accusations which go ignored. For example after TNA candidates Sayanthan and LTTE Elilan’s wife Ananthi Sashitharan had filed their nominations, the army had gone to their homes to grill them. The English language media seems to have ignored the episode.
That is Sri Lankan democracy.