Zero Performance of Tamil Parties and their Leaders

tamil national alliance

The Tamils in Sri Lanka, victims of genocides, the worst during the war between 2006-2009 including structural genocide since 1948 [immediately after the independence from the British] which is still being actively executed by the Sri Lankan Governments have left the Tamils with scars of war, traumatized with heavy feelings of a defeated nation and wounded pride.

From the ashes of dethroned Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam rose the Tamil National Alliance [TNA] to fill the vacuum of leadership left behind by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam allowing the Tamil National Alliance to dominate and function single handed the Tamil politics for more than 12 years.

Tamil National Alliance pledged to work and take actions to achieve the following objectives:-

  1. Merger of North and Eastern Provinces [Tamils traditional and historical homeland]
  2. Self-rule in the North and East through non-violent and peaceful agitations.
  3. Right of self-determination

From 2010 – 2021 three general elections were held which brought three Governments. The first one being Mahinda Rajapakshe Government and the second one Maithiri/Ranil Wickremasinghe Government from 2015-2019 and the present Gotabaya Rajapakshe Government from 2020. Tamil National Alliance’s performance and achievements [if any] from 2010 to 2015 do not show anything concrete except a subdued, submissive and dormant approach with studied silence.

The 2015 election brought the Maitheri/Ranil, a poles apart pair and a Government travelling on two tracks. These leaders pledged proposals for political settlement of Tamils which enticed the Tamil National Alliance and Tamils to opt for these uneasy combinations. TNA’s leader Sampanthan trusted and hoped for deliverance from Maithei/Ranil and as a token of trust and goodwill, he attended the Independence Day celebrations in 2016 hoisting the Lion Flag and exhibited his loyalty to the Government.

The TNA’s election manifesto 2015 has focused on the following main objectives to be achieved for the Tamils:-

[A] A federal structure within a united Sri Lanka

[b] Full devolution of powers on the basis of shared sovereignty

[c] Recognition of North and Eastern Provinces as historically inhabited homeland of Tamils.

[d] The right to exercise self-determination as proclaimed in the UN Convention

TNA was formed in 2001   which comprised TELO. PLOTE, EPRLF TNLF and ITAK accept the EPDP which always backs any ruling party. However, some of these parties broke away while some opted to form their own parties like TNLF and TPNF led by Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam and Justice C.V. Wigneswaran which also contested elections in their own manifesto.

This article attempts to analyze the contributions and achievements of the various Tamil parties now numbering about 20 particularly focusing on TNA which holds the majority of Tamil speaking Members of Parliament.

TNA has so far failed to deliver the following:-

The much talked and promises to take action for the release of the Tamil political prisoners never materialized until Gotabaya Rajapakshe released 93 prisoners to mark the Posan Poya Day on 24th June 2021 which benefitted 16 Tamil prisoners including two Tamil political prisoners serving jail terms and detained under the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act [PTA] while the other 14 prisoners almost completed their jail terms ranging from 10 – 20 years. It is to be noted that more than 100 Tamil political prisoners are still in jail awaiting another Buddhist holy occasion for another possible release. TNA has been maintaining dismaying silence over the ongoing processes of Sinhalisisation and Buddhisisation. It appears that they have left this crucial issue to be taken up by the affected local citizens to organize protests at the sites being seized by the security forces, Buddhist Monks or Sinhalese Government Officials and Sinhalese civilians. Undoubtedly, TNA is playing an inexcusable role in this serious matter which strikes at the heart of Tamils traditional homeland.

TNA, the one and only organization has so far failed to initiate mass and popular protests or agitations except occasional ones like the recent farmers and fishermen protests organized by Sumanthiran MP. These were organized single handed by Sumanthiran which are self motivated and initiated without the mass participation including persons affected by the government’s activities. Above all, it is a pity that TNA and other Tamil leaders of 18 parties have no agenda or ground map of action to pursue the declared goals and aspirations of Tamils

The 72 years old pledge to achieve a federal system of government continues to lie in a dormant state and continues prolonging its existence. Viewing the somnolent approach of TNA leadership, the merger of North and East will also lie in state without any united action, pressure and demand from the leaders.

TNA has been blowing hot and cold over the holding of much delayed Provincial Council elections. During the Ranil/Maithiri rule, TNA coalesced with the Government to delay them and now crying coarse and demanding the Government to hold the elections without any further delay.

The performances of other parties and leaders particularly TNPF and TPNF etc. need no explanation. Barring a very few protests launched by them during the 10 years period, much of their time and energy is spent on issuing statements, interviews and good speeches in and outside the Parliament, but otherwise they fold their wings and fall into a state of slumber, silence and inaction. TNA also appears to be paying scant attention and seriousness to the Recommendation of the UN Human Rights High Commissioner Madam Michele Bachelet who called for the referral of Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court {ICC}, a rogue state which is alleged to have committed war crimes, crimes against humanity etc. as has been revealed in several UN, UNHRC and Human Rights Activists Reports.

The pleas of Diaspora Tamils, human rights activists and other civil groups to the Tamil leaders and parties urging them to come under one umbrella and form a united front to agitate for the identified and accepted objectives have been falling into their deaf ears due to personal ambitions, popularity seeking motives including prestige coupled with egoistic attitudes which have been the bane of Tamils politics.

TNA has so far failed to explore the ways and means to redress the grievances and seek the remedies from International Criminal Court {ICC] and/or International Court of Justice {ICJ] in order to uphold the principles of accountability and justice. TNA is duty bound to translate into action what they have been pressing and demanding in their statements, speeches and interviews..

It is therefore beholden to the Tamil leaders to shed their personal interests and unite to launch a one and only front to salvage the Tamils to ensure their historical existence in Sri Lanka [in their traditional and historical homeland]

It will be wise and timely for the Tamil leaders to take proper and appropriate steps in advance to forestall any and all moves and actions of Government which threaten and harm the interests of Tamils including human rights rather than waiting till the last day to launch  protests and demonstrations after the execution and implementation of anti-Tamil measures like land seizures, Buddhisisation and Sinhalisisation launched by the Security Forces and/or Buddhist Monks.


Thambu Kanagasabai, LLM [London] Former Lecturer in Law, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka


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