Tamil parties Wednesday ended speculation that they may join the new alliance between President Maithripala Sirisena and newly appointed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa by categorically stating that their loyalties are with the United National Party (UNP) and ousted Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe. The UNP has traditionally received the vote of the Tamils of Sri Lanka and the party has ushered in the peace process with the Tamil Tiger rebels in 2002 which lasted till the Rajapaksa regime in 2006 re-commenced military action against the LTTE following the rebels breaking the ceasefire. With the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) accepting President Sirisena’s invitation to attend the Diwali festivities hosted by him Tuesday there was speculation of the TNA which already has lost one member to the Sirisena-Rajapaksa lobbying, succumbing to the coercion by Sirisena and Rajapaksa. However both the TNA and the Tamil Progressive Alliance (TPA) Wednesday said that they declined the offers by President Sirisena to join him and Rajapaksa in the new government that is keen on proving its strength in parliament.
A delegation of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) comprising of Leader of the TNA R. Sampanthan, met with President Sirisena at the Presidential Secretariat, and communicated their decision to support the United National Party (UNP) of ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, the party said Wednesday. Meanwhile Mano Ganeshan, the leader of the Democratic People’s Front (DPF) and Tamil Progressive Alliance (TPA) told the media that he too had accepted the invitation to meet President Sirisena and ‘courteously’ declined the offer of a ministerial post explaining that they as supporters and campaigners of the 2015 change of regime which bought into power President Sirisena through the UNP ticket, the PDF will stick by their decision to support the UNP when parliament re-convenes on November 14. The TNA holds a strength of 15 members in parliament and the TPA 6 members.
“The TNA delegation has also explained to President Sirisena that the decisions taken by the TNA cannot be reversed and that the TNA will stand by the said decisions,” a statement by the TNA spokesman M. A. Sumanthiran said.
“The TNA delegation also specifically told the President that in consultation with the President it would extend to the President its fullest support with regard to any future steps taken by him to stabilize the political situation in the country with the cooperation of all political parties. To enable this to be achieved at the earliest the TNA also urged the President to convene Parliament for a date earlier than now contemplated,” the TNA statement added.
Mano Ganeshan, who was Minister of National Integration, Reconciliation and Official Languages in the UNP-SLFP coalition regime that ended when Sirisena appointed Mahinda Rajapaksa as PM on October 26 told the media that TPA will pledge their full support to the UNP to help re-instate the UNP led government. Both the UNP and its affiliated parties, the United National Front (UNF) as well as the the alliance of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) of President Sirisena and Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka Podu Jana Peramuna (SLPP) insists that they have the majority in 225 House. At the SLFP-SLPP rally in Colombo on Monday President Sirisena said that he and Rajapaksa has the support of over 113 MPs, including UNP MPs. However, on Wednesday the UNP said that a newly crossed over UNPer, Manusha Nanayakkara had resigned from his new post as the Deputy Minister of Labour and Foreign Employment bestowed on him by the Sirisena-Rajapaksa government and come back to the UNP. Nannayakkara saidthat his resignation was in keeping with his ‘democratic and political beliefs and conscience.’
According to reports heavy bargaining is going on, on both sides of the political divide as sums of money ranging from 300 million and 500 million Sri Lankan rupee are allegedly exchanging hands alongside the lure of ministerial positions.