NE election campaign, a turn of events | Sunday Observer

NE election campaign, a turn of events

R. Sampanthan-M.T. Hasan Ali-Rauff Hakeem-Rishad Bathideen-Suresh Premachandran
R. Sampanthan-M.T. Hasan Ali-Rauff Hakeem-Rishad Bathideen-Suresh Premachandran

Election campaigns in the run up to the February 10 local government

polls is gaining momentum in the North and East with political parties and political groups conducting pocket meetings and house to house visits, according to reports.

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), the two minority political parties wielding power in the North and East respectively, having the highest number of parliamentary seats and a majority in the now defunct local government bodies, face the toughest challenge since they have to fight against new contenders who are their own break-away groups with a considerable support base.

The TNA has 12 parliamentarians representing the Tamils of the North and East and enjoyed a majority of the local government bodies under its administration before they were dissolved.

The party is contesting the Jaffna Municipal Council, 28 Pradeshiya Sabhas (PSs), and five Urban Councils (UCs) on the ‘House’ symbol of the ITAK.

There is discontent even among the current three constituents of the TNA – the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchy (ITAK), the People’s Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE) and the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation ( TELO) – over accusations that the ITAK is taking the upper hand in the allotment of slots.

PLOTE leader D. Sitharthan MP has openly stated he will keep away from campaigning for the party for the Kilinochchi PS and some other LG bodies in the Jaffna district since they have been sidelined by the ITAK in the offer of slots.

The ITAK leadership has selected Immanuel Arnold as the mayoral candidate for the Jaffna MC and this selection too has come under fire from the other constituents on the accusation that the decision was made long ago in Canada, to appease diaspora groups that have been funding the ITAK’s party activities and election campaigns.

The long simmering bitterness and discontent between the TNA and the Northern Province Chief Minister (CM) C.V. Wigneswaran who was the ITAK nominee for the CM’s post has now culminated in the CM’s supporters, including the Tamil People’s Council, an organisation which the CM co-chairs, saying that he will contest the next PC elections to the Northern PC on the ‘ Rising Sun’ symbol of the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF).

Meanwhile, TNA parliamentarians S.Sri Dharan and Charles Nirmalanathan are reported to have met with representatives of rehabilitated ex-combatants in Pudukudiyiruppu in Mullaitivu last Wednesday and held discussions on getting their support in the run up to the polls.

A TNA constituent from its inception, the Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF), led by former parliamentarian Suresh Premachandran, has formed its own separate alliance with the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) led by veteran Tamil political leader, V. Anandasangaree and other political groups and rehabilitated ex-combatants, over discontent with the main TNA constituent, the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchy (ITAK) headed by Jaffna parliamentarian Mavai Senadhirajah.

The new party – Tamil National Liberation Front (TNLF) – will contest all LG bodies in the North and East on the ‘Rising Sun’ symbol of the TULF. The TNLF is patronized by the Tamil People’s Council , according to reports.

The SLMC which has six parliamentarians representing the North and East and one representing the Kandy constituency (party leader Rauff Hakeem) is contesting the LG bodies in the North and East and other areas of Muslim concentration in alliance with the UNP under an MoU to contest some LG bodies on the party’s ‘Tree’ symbol and others on the UNP’s ‘Elephant’ symbol.

A new Muslim political party – United PeaceAlliance (UPA) – led by former SLMC General Secretary, State Minister and parliamentarian M.T.Hasan Ali, together with former SLMC Chairman and Minister Basheer Segu Dawood and other party dissidents have formed a political alliance – the United Peace Alliance (UPA) – with Minister Rishad Bathideen’s All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) to contest the upcoming LG polls. The UPA is contesting on the ACMC’s ‘Peacock’ symbol and has fielded candidates to LG bodies in Muslim predominant areas in the North, East and other areas of their

concentration throughout the country, especially, Colombo, Badulla, Welimada, Puttalam and Kalpitiyta. The ACMC is the third majority party in the North and East represented by five parliamentarians, having had 65 councillors in the now defunct LG bodies in the North and East.

The SLFP, the UNP and the SLPP are contesting with their usual allies. The Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF) led by former parliamentarian Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam contesting in alliance with minor political parties and political groups on his ‘bicycle’ symbol; the Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) led by parliamentarian and former Minister Douglas Devananda contesting in alliance with the SLPP; the National Congress (NC) led by former Minister A.L.M.Athaullah, also contesting in alliance with the SLPP, and other independent political groups, are not likely to make any major impact in the elections, according to political observers. 

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