The country’s leading Tamil political party, the Ilangai Thamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK), yesterday announced it was giving support to NDF presidential candidate Sajith Premadasa in the forthcoming Presidential election. Party sources said that this was an independent decision by its central committee and was not based on any political negotiations or on any conditionality.
“We compared the policies and past performances of the two main candidates and decided that Sajith Premadasa was the best choice for the Tamil people at present,” a party official told the Daily News. ‘ITAK’ translates as ‘Sri Lankan Tamils’ Political Party’ and is the oldest and biggest Tamil political party since Independence and is the dominant party within the overarching Tamil National Alliance (TNA).
Following the ITAK central committee meeting in Vavuniya yesterday, party representatives told news media that ITAK was calling on all Tamil groups in the country to extend support for Premadasa as the candidate ‘most open to democracy, equality and an ethnically inclusive governance’.
The ITAK leadership is to ask the other partner political parties in the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) to also extend their support for the NDF candidate. The other parties are the TELO, TMK (led by former Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran), and PLOTE. The EPRLF also used to be a partner but more recently withdrew from the Alliance.
An ITAK spokesman told Daily News that the ITAK’s decision was with the belief that Tamil people could expect some kind of relief from NDF Candidate Premadasa compared to the others who have entered the fray.
The parties of the TNA had waited for the election manifestos of all main candidates to be published before taking a position.
TNA Leader R.Sampanthan had earlier said that the Alliance’s position would be announced after studying the election manifestos.
‘No negotiations or conditions by Tamil groups’ – PM Ranil Wickremsinghe in Jaffna
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, participating in several pocket meetings in Jaffna yesterday, has reiterated that the UNP-led New Democratic Front coalition or its Presidential Candidate Sajith Premadasa has not entered into any public or secret agreement with any Political Party or Organization in the North. He pointed out that this has been clearly stated in Premadasa’s election manifesto.
The Premier invited all political parties in the North and the East to join hands with the effort to build a modern and developed Sri Lanka endorsing the policies laid down in Premadasa’s manifesto. He highlighted that only the coalition led by the NDF has presented a set of policies equally acceptable to the North and the South.