By Shenali D. Waduge
|TNA Leader R. Sampanthan
The Tamil National Alliance was formed in 2001 by the LTTE and became known as LTTE’s political wing. The rationale to create a political wing was probably the outcome of 9/11 and the US steered
global ‘war against terror’.
The TNA has contested two Parliamentary Elections with backing of LTTE in 2001 and 2004 while the remaining four elections were post-LTTE defeat (2010, 2013, 2015 and 2020). Interestingly, TNA while claiming to be the representative of the Tamils contests only in Jaffna, Wanni, Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Ampara in all the six elections.
Why has TNA ignored or refrained from representing all areas where Tamils live in particular the Estate Tamils? Given that the TNA in all of its manifestos refer to disenfranchisement of Tamils at independence and since this reference is to Indian Tamils brought to work on plantations by the colonials, TNA must explain why it does not represent them.
Even Colombo where a large population of Tamils live, TULF/ITAK has never been able to get more than 13,000 Tamil votes! The diplomatic community are visiting TNA when they have just 2% of Tamil mandate!
TNA constituent parties
2001 – TULF, ACTC, TELO, EPRLF
2004 – TULF, ACTC, TELO and EPRLF
2010 – ITAK, TELO and EPRLF – TULF and ACTC no longer in TNA
2013 – ITAK, TELO and EPRLF
2015 – ITAK, TELO, EPRLF and PLOTE
2020 – ITAK, TELO and PLOTE (TULF, ACTC, EPRLF – no longer in TNA)
TNA open support for LTTE
‘It was inevitable, that the armed struggle gained in strength and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam came to occupy a paramount position, and play a pivotal role in the struggle of the Tamil nationality to with their rights.’
‘We have also consistently asserted that any attempt to draw a distinction between the LTTE and the Tamil people was meaningless’…
‘Unless meaningful negotiations are held with the LTTE no just solution can be found to the Tamil national question and that such negotiations should be held immediately ONLY with the LTTE’–
‘No parallel negotiations should take place with any other Tamil political formation’.
TNA comprising TULF, ACTC, TELO, EPRLF in 2001 demanded that the GOSL ‘lift the proscription imposed on the LTTE’ and that such ‘proscription does not constitute an impediment to the free and full participation of the LTTE at such negotiations on behalf of the Tamil nationality’.
Demanded lifting of economic embargo in NE provinces against LTTE
Cessation of war
Commencement of negotiations with LTTE and a third party
In 2001 TNA says national solution is based on LTTE-GoSL proposals at Thimpu in July 1985 where LTTE demanded:
To recognise Tamils of Sri Lanka as a distinct nationality
To recognise the identified Tamil Homeland and guarantee its territorial integrity
To recognise the inalienable right of self-determination of the Tamil nation
To recognise the right to full citizenship and other fundamental democratic rights of all Tamils who look upon the island as their country
This clearly implies TNA demands what LTTE demanded.
‘In order to safeguard the life and liberty of the Tamil race and to establish its birthright for self-determination, the Tamil Nation having being pushed to the unavoidable state of armed conflict, as the only way, the war not only broadened but advanced under the generalship of the Tiger’s leader Hon. Pirapaharan’ (note TNA politicians for fear of LTTE lived with the Sinhalese in Colombo and cared not what happened to the Tamils living in LTTE controlled areas).
“Sinhala Nation has to accept ISGA excellent” proposals by LTTE to rebuild Tamil country
‘The LTTE has for the past two years put up with the violent, surly behaviour of the armed forces without impairing the conditions for peace and observing the ceasefire and acting steadfastly and firmly towards the path of peace.’
International community should remove restrictions on LTTE because it is the ‘authentic sole representative of the Tamil people’.
‘Accepting LTTE’s leadership as the national leadership of the Tamil Eelam Tamils and the Liberation Tigers as the sole and authentic representatives of the Tamil people.’
‘Let us devote our full cooperation for the ideals of the Liberation Tigers struggle with honesty and steadfastness’…‘let us work side by side with the LTTE.’
‘Sole military outfit that fought for a separate homeland for the Tamils.’
Now let us look at how Tamils have voted for TNA over the six elections held since 2001 (see table 1).
In spite of such open allegiance to the LTTE, the TNA comprising TULF, ACTC, TELO and EPRLF secured only 348,164 votes (3.89% of Tamil votes polled) but because of Sri Lanka’s PR system, TNA managed to get 15 seats.
TNA contested only in six districts yet Tamils live across all 25 districts of Sri Lanka.
In 2004 TNA comprising TULF, ACTC, TELO and EPRLF secured 633,64 votes (6.84% of the Tamil votes polled) and secured 22 seats in Parliament due to the PR system.
In 2010, from 8.6 m voters in the areas that ITAK contested ITAK secured only 233,190 votes just 2.9% of votes polled but thanks to PR system TNA secured 14 seats in Parliament. The TULF/Anandasangaree contested separately in 2010 received just 9223 votes.
ITAK votes in 2004 were 633,203 in 2010 ITAK votes were 233,190 (400,013 Tamils had given up on ITAK – virtually saying ‘NO’ to their manifesto.
Elections to the Northern Provincial Council was held after 1990 when merged-NE was taken back to the State after declaration of universal independence by Indian-puppet Varatharaja Perumal. 2013 NPC elections was held four years after defeat of LTTE. TNA contested under ITAK and secured 353,595 votes which was 120,405 votes more than what ITAK secured in the 2010 General Elections. It was nothing for TNA/ITAK to feel proud about.
In 2015 the January regime change took place. TNA was a key player in change of Govt. In August 2015 General Elections was held – TNA/ITAK secured 515,963 votes – 4.62% of votes polled gaining 16 seats. This was just 162,368 more than what TNA secured in 2013. Again nothing much to boast about.
In 2020 TNA votes was 327,168 as against 515,963 in 2015. TNA received just 2.82% of votes. This meant 188,795 Tamils had lost faith in TNA. It also means the diplomatic community and other international dignitaries are visiting TNA to hold talks when they hardly represent the Tamil people or even what the Tamils want. This is something the diplomatic community and the UN need to seriously look at.
The LTTE supported two elections that the TNA took part in – 2001 and 2004. Even with LTTE support TNA secured 633,203 votes only. Even after supporting regime change in 2015, TNA secured only 515,963 votes. In fact, percentage wise TNA has received the lowest as per 2020 results gaining just 2.82% vote.
The takeaway from this is that TNA is not the representative of Tamils. The international community and the diplomats should seriously relook at who they are chaperoning. Courtesy calls to TNA are not going to win the Tamils as TNA does not stand for what Tamils truly want. The election results speak for themselves. Contesting just five districts since 2001, TNA is hardly representative of the Tamils!