Pillayan’s double cross: The story behind the story

By Chris Kamalendran

The Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP) opted to support President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the upcoming Presidential elections, barely two days after the party decided to withhold support to the President.

Mr. Chandrakanthan

Last week’s exclusive front page report in the Sunday Times about the decision by the TMVP not to join the political campaign to re-elect President Rajapaksa triggered off a string of new developments, but the TMVP has not contradicted its report in this newspaper.

Last Sunday, the state-run Independent Television Network, the government’s official website and the heavily pro-Government Ada Derana SMS news service were quick to claim that the report was wrong. They quoted TMVP leader and Eastern Province Chief Minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan as saying the report was incorrect and the TMVP would support Mr. Rajapaksa.

Yet, until yesterday neither Mr. Chandrakanthan nor his party’s General Secretary, Edwin Silva Kailasaraja, who was the source for the report, spoke to the Sunday Times to make any comment on the report.

Amidst denials by a section of the state media, Government officials hurriedly summoned Mr. Chandrakanthan and a TMVP delegation for an unscheduled meeting in Colombo to discuss their grievances. The Chief Minister was also told to say he denied the Sunday Times report and would extend support for President Rajapaksa before the meeting could take place. The TMVP had been warned of consequences, including the withdrawal of commando security to their frontline leaders.

The Sunday Times reported last week that the Eastern Provinces’ largest Tamil political party, now with the Government, would not campaign for President Mahinda Rajapaksa. This is what MVP General Secretary Kailasaraja said in that report: “Thirteen of our 15 politburo members who took part in the meeting supported this move.” The meeting was chaired by Mr. Pillayan and lasted three hours.The Sunday Times has learnt that the decision of the politburo was recorded in the minutes.

Since, Mr. Chandrakanthan was asked to deny the report, a TMVP official has taken copies for safe keeping. During the unscheduled meeting they held with Senior Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapaksa last Tuesday, Mr. Chandrakanthan placed the TMVP demands that had prompted their decision. The main one was the removal of Eastern Province Governor Mohan Wijewickrema, who, the TMVP alleges, is preventing the provincial administration from carrying out development work. Mr. Rajapaksa had asked for four months time to look into the matter.

The TMVP delegation had also pointed out that Ministers of the Central Government were engaging in development work without consulting the Provincial Council. They claimed this was undermining their work. They also alleged that a bonus seat in the EPC which the TMVP was entitled to was being blocked by Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan alias Karuna, now a member of the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party. (SLFP)

Senior Minister and ruling UPFA General Secretary Susil Premajayantha, who also took part in the talks, told the Sunday Times that the issue relating to the bonus seat would be resolved soon. He said the ministers would also be advised to co-ordinate all activity with the EPC. “We had certain problems and have now sorted them out,” he added.

As a result of the meeting, triggered by last week’s the Sunday Times report, the TMVP delegation has now agreed to support President Rajapaksa at the Presidential Election campaign.

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