Speculation on boycott ending after talk with Rajapaksa

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader R. Sampanthan met President Mahinda Rajapaksa here on Friday, prompting speculation of a shift in TNA’s position on being part of the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) studying the 13th Amendment.

However, highly placed sources in TNA told The Hindu that there was no change in the Alliance’s decision to boycott the PSC.

A statement from TNA on Friday said Mr. Sampanthan met the President on his invitation, and they had a cordial meeting with discussion on land rights and resettlement in the north. “The President expressed his desire to solve all outstanding issues relating to the national question,” it said.

According to the statement, Mr. Sampanthan reiterated TNA’s commitment to the evolution of an acceptable, workable and durable political solution, within the framework of a united undivided country.

The meeting — held just a couple of days after National Security Adviser (NSA) Shivshankar Menon’s visit to Colombo — has assumed significance in political circles here, as it is seen as the government’s attempt to reach out to TNA.

TNA has boycotted the PSC “due to the government’s moves to incrementally water down the already-limited provisions of the 13th Amendment”, according to its statement on the PSC.

During Mr. Menon’s visit, Mr. Rajapaksa had told him that the PSC was the best forum to reach a consensus on the implementation of the 13th Amendment, which followed the Indo-Lanka Accord of 1987. He had observed that TNA’s participation in the PSC was important.

TNA’s stance has been that: “In the absence of any Opposition member of parliament, this PSC will be nothing but a sub-committee of the Government Parliamentary Group and not a Parliamentary Select Committee and will have no credibility whatsoever,” as has been said it its detailed statement on the PSC.

Even as United National Party, the main opposition, and TNA stay away from the PSC, local media reported that the PSC would seek public opinion on the issue.

Election mode

TNA, over the last few days, is also trying to settle some differences within the Alliance on the choice of chief ministerial candidate. While one section is keen on fielding former Supreme Court judge C. V. Vigneswaran, others have been backing TNA parliamentarian Mavai Senathirajah based in Jaffna.

With barely two months for Northern Provincial Council Polls, the country is getting into election mode. Nominations, according to the Election Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya, will be accepted from July 25 to August 1.