19 April, 2021


The Way Forward For The TNA For Peaceful Resolution Of The Political Problems Of Tamils

By R.M.B Senanayake

R.M.B. Senanayake

There was a storm created during the election campaign by the TNA Manifesto which referred to their demand for federalism. This was interpreted or misinterpreted to the Sinhalese masses as a revival of the demand for a separate State. Such interpretation no doubt was useful to mobilize the support of the Sinhalese voters in the NWP and the CP elections. The TNA denied that they wanted a separate state.

But even a sober politician like the National Languages and Social Integration Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara, who earlier forged an alliance along with other leftist members in the government to oppose any move to amend the 13th Amendment has said that the TNA’s election manifesto was an attempt to divide the country. He has also added that the Northern Provincial Council would be assigned the same powers as the other provincial councils and would not be given any powers that have not been vested with the other councils. So the TNA has to take note of these fears among the Sinhalese. Whether the demand for self determination in the form of federalism can be outlawed is now before the Supreme Court.

But the 13th Amendment is not federalism. The best option for the TNA is to put this demand on the back burner and instead seek to make the Provincial Council work. Otherwise it would expose itself to the charge that it wrecked any chance of working together under the 13th Amendment. There are several gaps and overlaps in the division of powers in the Law which requires patience and understanding to iron out.  The Government should show understanding and allow the TNA to run an administration exercising the powers devolved. The TNA should cultivate the goodwill and understanding of the President and make a genuine attempt to make the Provincial Council work. So the first step is to build a dialogue with the President to resolve the administrative obstacles and bottlenecks rather than to demand expansion of the powers and functions of the PC. The Governor is the President’s representative and despite the bad relationship with the present holder of the post the TNA must disp