The head of the Tamil Eelam Liberation Movement (TELO) Selvam Adaikalanathan lashed out at his colleagues within the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) last week, as he called for “unity” despite signs of deepening fissures.
Speaking in Jaffna, Adaikalanathan claimed that the TNA was “strong” but that “its influence is diminishing from the minds of the people due to the activities of two or three black sheep”.
Adaikalanathan was speaking at a People’s Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE) conference, one of the constituent parties of the TNA alongside TELO, which was initially an armed organisation. Stating that the Tamil National Alliance “was not formed out of any nationalism of the individual parties,” he went on to state that “all the movements involved in armed struggle… should unite and strengthen the Tamil National Alliance.”
“The liberation of the Tamil people is being talked about right now. I must point out at this point that I am not talking about emotional liberation. People should not be deceived… We do not want ‘older brother-younger brother’ type nationalism while our people are in dire straits right now.”
“There are experienced leaders in TNA,” he continued. “They should be given opportunities to seek their advice. Those who have come lately are trying to destroy [the TNA]. We will never allow this.”
His remarks come just days after fractures within the TNA came to the fore, in the wake of Ranil Wickremesinghe being appointed Sri Lanka’s latest president. Wickremesinghe was elected by Sri Lanka’s lawmakers, and told the TNA that he “knew” some of them had voted for him despite a party announcement that they would back another candidate.
The decision, reportedly taken up in a fiery meeting which had an Indian official dialed in, rocked the TNA with infighting ensuing.
In the wake of the incident Adaikalanathan was also sharply critical of the direction the alliance is heading in, and called for TNA leader R Sampanthan to step down, highlighting the 89-year's “illness and inability to function actively as before”.
His “advanced age and illness” had impacted his ability to serve as the coalition leader he claimed, and also added that spokesperson M A Sumanthiran “cannot be acceptable as the leader of the alliance”.
Though it is thought those are the two figures Adaikalanathan was alluding to in Jaffna, he refused to name them.
“I don't want to mention anyone's name for the sake of civility,” he said. Instead, he pointed to how Ranil Wickremesinghe was using “fox tricks” to try and break up the TNA.
“Those who broke away from TNA should rejoin,” he continued. “All movements that were involved in armed struggle… should settle their differences to work together with the Tamil National Alliance through a democratic stream in the interest of our people”.