President Ranil Wickremesinghe while addressing Parliament on 10 November 2022 invited all Tamil MPs for a discussion on issues facing the Tamil people and about development plans for the North and East. Jaffna district MP and Tamil National Alliance (TNA) spokesperson , M. A.Sumanthiran responded positively by telling a morning newspaper that the TNA would cooperate. “We will fully co-operate. The resolution of the Tamil national question will be our main focus”said Sumanthiran. Later Sumanthiran reiterated this viewpoint in the presence of President Ranil Wickremesinghe at a meeting held on November 19th on the occasion of the ceremonial opening of the Presidential Secretariat Northern Province Co-ordination Sub-Office in Vavuniya.
As is well known the Tamil National Alliance is the premier political configuration representing the Sri Lankan Tamils of the Northern and Eastern provinces. The TNA comprises the Ilankai Thamil Arasuk katchi(ITAK) , the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization(TELO) and the Peoples Liberation Organization of Tamil Eelam(PLOTE). The TNA contesting under the ITAK symbol oh house won ten seats – including one national list MP – in the 2020 Parliamentary elections. The ten MPs are from the electoral districts of Jaffna(3), Wanni(3), Batticalo(2),Trincomalee(1)and Amparai(1). The party – wise breakdown is ITAK -6, TELO-3 and PLOTE -1.
In a bid to present a common Tamil position in potential discussions with President Wickremesinghe the TNA issued an invitation last week to like-minded Tamil nationalist parties to meet at TNA leader Rajavarothayam Sampanthan’s Colombo residence and formulate a common approach seeking a political solution “within a federal set up in the NorthEast”. The meeting did not take place as planned last week. Subsequently it has been re-scheduled for Friday 25th November at Sampanthan’s residence in Colombo.
Apart from the three constituents of the TNA namely the ITAK,TELO and PLOTE, invitations have been sent to the Tamil National Peoples Front(TNPF), the Thamil Makkal Theseeyak Koottani(TMTK), Eelam Peoples Revolutionary Liberation front(EPRLF) and “Thamil Theseeyak Katchi(TTK) . The TNPF has two MPs in Parliament while the TMTK has one MP.
Given the inter-party rivalry among Tamil parties in general and the intra-party friction within Tamil parties in particular, it is unclear at present as to whether all invited parties will attend the meeting or consensus would be arrived at. However regardless of inter and intra-party differences the bottom line is that all Sri Lankan Tamil nationalist parties are firmly supportive of a power sharing arrangement based upon federal principles or the federal idea.