In a closely contested poll held at the Trincomalee Municipal Council Auditorium on Sunday, Member of Parliament Sivagnanam Shritharan clinched victory, securing the position of the new leader of the Ilankai Tamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK), a Tamil political party that previously headed the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) coalition.
The election saw a three-way race for the post of party president, with Members of Parliament MA Sumanthiran, Sivagnanam Shritharan, and former Member of Parliament Sinithambi Yogeswaran contesting for the leadership position.
The initial attempt to reach a consensus among the contenders proved unsuccessful, leading to the decision for a vote. During the voting process, Sumanthiran garnered 137 votes, Shritharan secured 184 votes, and Yogeswaran who backed Shritharan withdrawing from the ballot.
Shritharan, addressing the media after his victory, emphasized the shared commitment among the party members to empower the Tamil people and uphold the fundamental right of self-determination for the Tamil nation.
“We will join forces with others - people who can journey together for (Tamil) nationhood - we will always work with them for the freedom of our people, we will forge a new path for freedom," he told reporters.
"For this we will certainly work together with everyone.”
“We will join forces with others - people who can journey together for (Tamil) nationhood - we will always work with them for the freedom of our people, we will forge a new path for freedom. For this we will certainly work together with everyone,” @ImShritharan said to reporters. pic.twitter.com/zYVdvyWC26
— Tamil Guardian (@TamilGuardian) January 21, 2024
"We have recorded a historical chapter in the history of a party where a new leader has been chosen by a democratic ballot for the first time," Shritharan continued.
"This has given belief to many people. Many youth have taken an interest in this party as a result of this process. Together with Sumanthiran and Yogeswraran, we will, our party will, work for our people, for the sustenance of their nation, for every inch of Tamil nationhood, we will continue to work with responsibility and a sense of duty."
We will do that duty properly. Through numerous media briefings we have explained our unity and strength. My friend Sumanthiran also clearly stated this on many occasions. Therefore, the part we play is on behalf of our race. It is to do with the sustenance of the people of our Tamil nation. It is to do with the fundamental rights of our people. Together we will all strengthen ourselves to win those rights. We have been given this opportunity through the wishes of the central committee, our supporters here and overseas, their belief in fate; these have all given us this opportunity. I, along with those around me, will use this opportunity correctly. I thank you all for giving me this chance; we will continue on this journey, together, with you all. "
Immediately following the announcement, Sivagnanam Shritharan paid his respects at Kanagapuram Maveerar Thuyilum Illam, to pay homage to Tamils who took part and sacrificed their lives in the militant struggle for the liberation of Tamil Eelam.