(TNA election campaign; file photo)
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which won a majority of parliamentary seats in the Northern and Eastern Provinces in the last three general elections, is facing a stiff challenge from multiple players this time.
Five years ago, the fight was essentially between the TNA and the United People’s Freedom Alliance, which had the Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) as a major constituent in the provinces. At that time, the UPFA was in power and Mahinda Rajapaksa had just begun his second spell as Executive President.
But in the coming elections, the UPFA and the EPDP are contesting separately. Apart from the United National Party, which had contested separately in the past, too, the All Ceylon Tamil Congress (ACTC) or the Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF), the Crusaders for Democracy (CFD) and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) are also in the fray.
The ACTC/TNPF and the CFD have emerged as key critics of the TNA, a role traditionally performed by the EPDP. There is also a perception among the educated middle class in the Northern Province that the TNA has not addressed adequately the concerns of the youth. Anthony Jeeva, a Tamil writer and a nominee of the JVP for the national list, feels that the TNA may win a number of seats in this election, too, but this is not likely to continue forever.
However, Mahalingam Mayooran, a 25-year-old TNA activist in Jaffna, says “members of the younger generation are aware that the international community regards the TNA as the main representative of the Tamils and it is the Alliance that can pursue the problems of the youth effectively.”
Suresh Premachandran, TNA spokesperson, says the elections will again establish the TNA’s supremacy. R. Sampanathan, TNA leader, says that it is “most unlikely” that extreme elements will be encouraged by the people.