TNA’s key role in defeating no-confidence motion against Ranil

By  D.B.S. Jeyaraj

 (Courtesy of Daily Mirror)

In the seven-decade long history of Independent Sri Lanka’s legislature, there have been two no-confidence motions and related debates that are unprecedented and unparalleled. The first was in 1981 when members of the then United National Party (UNP) government brought and passed a no-confidence motion against the former leader of the opposition, Appapillai Amirthalingam. The no-confidence motion (NCM) brought against the late Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) leader was farcically unique in the sense that members of the ruling party were sponsoring a no-confidence motion against the leader of the opposition.

 
The second such controversial no-confidence motion was the recent NCM brought against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and his government by members of the opposition and sections of the same government headed by the PM. The tragicomic aspect of this NCM was the fact that ministers were supporting a NCM against Wickremesinghe and government while serving in the same government under the Prime Minister. It was indeed amusingly saddening to witness the covert moves by President Sirisena to undermine and topple his own govt of which Wickremesinghe was premier. Now the situation has been made even more facetious by the ministers who voted against the Prime minister stubbornly clinging to their ministerial portfolios without having the basic self-respect or decency of resigning their posts Interestingly both these no-confidence motions were introduced on the only two occasions when Sri Lankan Tamils were serving as leaders of the opposition in Parliament. Appapillai Amirthalingam was opposition leader from 1977 to 1983. Current opposition leader Rajavarothiam Sampanthan has been holding office since 2015. When the 1981 NCM targeted the leader of the opposition, Amirthalingam and his fellow TULF Parliamentarians walked out and did not participate in the one -sided rowdy “debate” in which elected MPs threatened Amirthalingam with torture and terrible methods of execution supposedly practised by Sinhala kings of yore.

 
The 2018 NCM was different from 1981 in the sense that it was aimed at the prime minister and not opposition leader. However the leader of the opposition Sampanthan departed from tradition by criticising the NCM and supporting the Prime Minister. All 16 MPs who were elected in 2015 on the ITAK’s house symbol on behalf of the TNA voted against the NCM.They played a crucial role in ensuring defeat of the attempt to topple the prime minister.

Apart from plans of a no-confidence motion against opposition leader Sampanthan, a campaign has also been launched against a purported agreement between the Prime Minister and the Tamil National Alliance

In the final count 122 votes were cast in support of Ranil Wickremesinghe against the no-confidence motion. 76 MPs supported the motion while 26 MPs absented themselves from the House during voting time. The NCM was defeated by 46 votes. The UNP, TNA, SLMC, AIMC,TPA and EPDP voted in support of Ranil while the joint opposition, JVP and sections of the SLFP voted against the premier. It could be seen therefore that even if the TNA votes were not taken into account the NCM would still have been defeated with a reduced lead by perhaps 107 to 76.

 
Assessing in arithmetic terms 
This however is only in terms of arithmetic. It would be erroneous to assess the role played by the TNA in arithmetical terms alone. Politics is not a numbers game always. As Leon Trotsky observed, “Politics is more like algebra than like elementary arithmetic, and still more like higher rather than elementary mathematics” In this instance too, assumptions of arithmetic or numbers based on the TNA votes in Parliament could be proved wrong.

 
The TNA effect on the no-confidence motion exercise was far in excess of its number of MPs. It was more of a qualitative than quantitative nature. It could be argued to a reasonable extent that the weight of TNA support helped tilt the scales in favour of Wickremesinghe in a manner that belies the actual 15 it had. That is why the ire and wrath of the NCM proponents have turned against the TNA in the aftermath of the vote.Crude attempts are being made to communalise the issue by racist elements supportive of a Rajapaksa return to power. Some hawkish elements are trying to spread a canard that the LTTE and pro-LTTE elements in the Diaspora got the TNA to support Ranil because he was going to give the tigers a separate state through a federal constitution. A mind boggling assertion but the tragedy in Sri Lanka is that there are people ready to believe even the worst form of blatant lies. A prime example being the “Wanda Pethi” allegation in Ampara.

 
Anyone with a modicum of genuine understanding about contemporary Tamil politics would laugh off these tragicomic allegations. If the LTTE led by Velupillai Prabhakaran had ever thought of federalism or devolution as being equal to a separate state the tigers would have accepted devolution so long ago. They did not and perceived devolution and federalism as a betrayal of the Tamil struggle for separation. They treated all Tamil politicians who strove for a political settlement with maximum devolution as traitors and killed them as in the case of Constitutional expert Dr. Neelan Tiruchelvam.

 
The LTTE is no more in Sri Lanka after May 2009, but the overseas structure of the LTTE remains though weakened and divided. The Diaspora tigers too continue with the same policies though they are unable to execute them on Sri Lankan soil. But the practice adopted now is to obstruct and sabotage any attempt to achieve a negotiated political settlement and usher in normalcy. The overseas tigers are strongly opposed to the current constitution making exercise. That is why they display venomous hatred towards Sampanthan and Sumanthiran who are fully supportive of and immersed in the Constitutional exercise. The tigerish elements also hate Ranil Wickremesinghe and Chandrika Kumaratunga because both leaders had tried to achieve a negotiated political settlement.The LTTE also knows that it is Ranil Wickremesinghe who is cooperating fully in the Constitutional exercise.

 
Collapse of Sirisena-Wickremesinghe Govt. 
Besides what the overseas tigers would like to do is to destabilise Sri Lanka if possible and cause political confusion. The best way for that is to ensure the collapse of the Sirisena -Wickremesinghe Govt. They would prefer to let the no-confidence motion succeed and result in the unseating of Wickremesinghe. If that had happened there would have been utter confusion and chaos.

 
If the overseas tigers did possess some leverage in Tamil politics they would have ensured that the TNA either voted for the NCM or abstained. In fact many of the Tiger media organs are somewhat critical of the TNA for supporting Wickremesinghe in the current context. Some even say Ranil weakened the LTTE through his 2002 ceasefire and therefore should have been toppled as revenge. Against this backdrop of prevailing political reality, only a naive idiot or diabolical charlatan would advance the argument that the Diaspora tigers got the TNA to support Ranil to achieve separatism through the envisaged Constitution.

 
What is happening now is that the TNA is being turned into a political target.Thwarted in their project of toppling the Prime Minister the so called joint opposition and their fellow travellers in the SLFP are trying to make a scapegoat of the TNA and directing their anger towards it. Latest media reports say that preparations are being made to sponsor a vote of no-confidence against the leader of the opposition and TNA parliamentary group leader Rajavarothiam Sampanthan. Unlike in 1981 where government  MPs expressed their lack of faith in the leader of the opposition, this envisaged NCM against the opposition leader in 2018 is likely to be presented by the joint opposition with the support of SLFP elements.
If saner counsel does not prevail and the NCM against Sampanthan is put to the vote we may very well witness another political absurd drama where the Prime Minister and bulk of the Govt are likely to repay Sampanthan by voting against the joint opposition motion. If these events do take place then Rajavarothiam Sampanthan and Ranil Wickremesinghe would go down in Parliamentary history as the leader of the opposition who safeguarded the Prime Minister of the Ruling Govt and the Prime Minister who protected his leader of the opposition.

 
Purported UNP-TNA Agreement 
Apart from plans of a no-confidence motion against opposition leader Sampanthan, a campaign has also been launched against a purported agreement between the Prime Minister and the Tamil National Alliance. It is being propagated that the alleged agreement between the UNP and TNA is a sell-out of the Sinhalese and a betrayal of the country. While Ranil is being depicted as a ‘Judas’ who made a ‘30 pieces of Silver’ deal to safeguard his Prime Ministerial position,the TNA is being portrayed as a latter day “Shylock” who ruthlessly exploited the government’s weakness and extracted huge concessions harmful to the country’s unity.

 
There are two salient factors to consider in the accusations about a UNP-TNA deal. The media reports appearing in English and Tamil media outline the 10 to 12 points agreed upon in the alleged UNP-TNA agreement. None of those could in any way be regarded as a betrayal or sell-out or be seen as rapacious extractions of a sordid bargain. Secondly neither Ranil Wickremesinghe nor the TNA have made any effort to conceal anything from the public about this so called “treachery”. In fact the speeches made by Prime Minister Wickremesinghe ,Finance Minister Samaraweera and TNA spokesman Sumanthiran in Parliament refer indirectly to matters discussed between both parties and potential solutions.

 
What then was the extent and impact of the key role played by the Tamil National Alliance in helping beleaguered Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to defeat the no-confidence motion? Why did the TNA extend support to Wickremesinghe despite the opposition to such a move within party folds as well as sections of the Tamil polity ? Was there a secret deal between the UNP and TNA over the NCM matter and if so what were the provisions of that agreement? This article proposes to answer these questions to a reasonable extent.

 
When the contours of a no-confidence motion (NCM) against Prime Minister Wickremesinghe began evolving, there was some confusion initially.There was an impression that the NCM was being mooted by influential segments of the UNP itself and that Ranil faced a lot of resentment within the green elephant kraal. Moreover it was a fact that President Sirisena did not want Ranil Wickremesinghe as his prime minister and wanted to oust him. But few ever suspected that Maithripala would go to the extent of collaborating with the Rajapaksas and engineer a conspiracy to dislodge Ranil the man who helped make him President in his electoral tussle with Mahinda Rajapaksa.

 
NCM against PM a tripartite plot 
Once it became apparent that the proposed NCM against the Prime Minister was a tripartite plot hatched by anti-UNP elements, sections of the SLFP led by Sirisena and the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) of which Mahinda Rajapaksa was the “unofficial” leader, the TNA hierarchy began to get perturbed. These sentiments got further exacerbated when percolating media reports speculated that Sirisena was having plans of replacing Ranil with Karu Jayasuriya as a stop gap measure, bring in ex – Defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa to Parliament on the National list and then replace Karu with Gota as premier. The spectacle of Sirisena re-aligning with Mahinda Rajapaksa by itself was pathetic but the possibility of an emerging President – Prime Minister partnership between Maithripala and Gotabhaya was totally unpalatable. Apart from terminating the Constitution reform process such an axis would result in the country regressing backwards and negate the limited progress achieved since 2015.
Trincomalee district MP and leader of the opposition Rajavarothiam Sampanthan is the senior most Tamil leader in Parliament today. Born in February 1933 the 85 year old TNA leader has participated in almost every meaningful attempt to bring about a negotiated settlement to the Tamil national question over the past 40 years since 1977. Currently he has fully involved himself with the Constitutional assembly and the formulation of a new constitution. He has dedicated himself to the task of achieving political equality for Tamils on the Island through this envisaged constitution. Sampanthan has hitched the TNA wagon to the new Constitution star and would very much like to attain his political objectives in the near future. Being an octogenarian he knows that the sands of time are running out.

 
Sampanthan realises and recognizes that among the active frontline Sinhala political leaders only Ranil Wickremesinghe (not counting the “retired” Chandrika Kumaratunga) has shown some keen interest in bringing about a lasting settlement of the Tamil national question through a new Constitution providing adequate power sharing. Ranil knows that it is the only way out. Wickremesinghe assumes this position not because he is emotionally committed towards greater devolution like Chandrika Kumaratunga or Dr.Jayampathy Wickramaratne. Ranil’s commitment is more intellectual or practical. Wickremesinghe is a neo-liberal with a technocratic temperament. His primary goal is to modernise Sri Lanka and uplift the economy. However he realises that this cannot be done well as long as the “ethnic wound” festers. Ranil would therefore like to bring about a satisfactory resolution of the Tamil question through acceptable power sharing arrangements in a new Constitution.

 
There was no alternative to Ranil
This then makes Ranil Wickremesinghe indispensable to Sampanthan’s vision and political goals. There is a convergence if not an identity of interests. In recent times the TNA leader has been somewhat miffed with Ranil for the tardy progress on the Constitutional front ever since the interim report of the steering committee was released. These feelings however pale into insignificance when faced with the prospect of Ranil being toppled and possibly replaced. In spite of all his shortcomings and faults, Ranil Wickremesinghe remains the best choice of what is available for the minority communities in general and Sri Lankan Tamils in particular. Hence for TNA leaders like Sampanthan and “Maavai” Senathirajah it was a case of Hobson’s choice.There was no alternative to Ranil whose unseating was certain to paralyse the political quest of a new power-sharing Constitution.

 
There was another reason also for the TNA to support Ranil. The TNA has been closely associating with India and other influential western nations like the USA, Britain,Canada and Norway to help bring about a political settlement and ethnic reconciliation in Sri Lanka. Most of these nations were also of the view that it was politically important and imperative to ensure the continuation of Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister. The perceived somersaults of President Sirisena in trying to re-align with the Rajapaksas has jarred and jolted the international community which now regards Ranil as the sheet anchor of the present Govt. Replacing Ranil with another – least of all a member of the Rajapaksa clan – was not to be countenanced. The TNA being on the same political wavelength concurred with this perspective.

The TNA has been closely associating with India and other influential western nations like the USA, Britain,Canada and Norway to help bring about a political settlement and ethnic reconciliation in Sri Lanka

There were however some hitches. One of the TNA constituents the EPRLF had pulled out of the configuration prior to the local government elections and had contested against the TNA in the polls. Of the two EPRLF MPs, Dr. Sivamohan remained with the TNA but Sivasakthy Ananthan was out of the TNA and kept away from the TNA parliamentary group. Thus the TNA which had 16 MPs earlier had been reduced to 15. The EPRLF said it would arrive at its own decision after discussing with Wickremesinghe. The other TNA constituent was the TELO which also had two MPs. The TELO met separately and decided that it would abstain from voting. The third TNA constituent PLOTE’s position was also uncertain and unknown as the leader Dharmalingam Siddarthan was undergoing the traditional period of mourning after the death of his mother. Mrs. Dharmalingam was the widow of former ITAK and TULF MP for Uduvil and Manipay V. Dharmalingam. The much respected, left-leaning Dharmalingam who served as MP from 1960 to 1983 was killed by the TELO along with Ex – MP Alalasundaram in 1985.

 
Serious differences in opinion 
Speculative reports also began appearing in sections of the Tamil media that there were serious differences of opinion among TNA parliamentarians about supporting Wickremesinghe.Although the TNA leadership had taken a policy decision in late March to oppose the no-confidence motion , it appeared that there was no unanimity among MPs. The TNA was apparently divided on this and the chances of a bloc vote being delivered in support of Ranil seemed to be slim if not remote. This made the TNA somewhat apprehensive on the question and when the media tried to find out what the party position on the NCM was a definite answer was not forthcoming. The question was evaded with the announcement that the TNA would decide on its stance on the eve of the NCM vote.
It was against this backdrop that 13 MPs of the TNA met on the morning of April 3rd in Colombo. Not all members of the TNA parliamentary group were favourable to the idea of supporting Wickremesinghe. Some felt that the TNA should not interfere in what was essentially an intra-Sinhala dispute. They opined that the TNA should abstain from voting. Others of a more pro-tiger disposition wanted to keep away from voting so that Ranil would suffer his comeuppance, A few were of the view that Ranil was certainly going to lose with or without TNA support and therefore it would be better to not vote against and lose out in the end. Interestingly none of the TNA parliamentarians wanted to support the no-confidence motion against Wickremesinghe. They only wanted the TNA to abstain and not support Ranil. Voting for the NCM was firmly ruled out.

 
TNA leader Sampanthan however took a different view and expounded it powerfully. He told the MPs how important it was for Ranil to remain as Prime Minister for resolving the ethnic problem and that his removal may result in the return of the Rajapaksas. The possibility of a Rajapaksa return had a dampening effect on many of the TNA MPs. Still there were some misgivings and fiery exchanges of words. Among those dissenting initially were MPs Selvam Adaikkalanathan, Iruthayaraj Charles Nirmalanathan, S. Shritharan and E. Saravanapavan. MPs Senathirajah and Sumanthiran endorsed Sampanthan’s position and argued in favour of supporting Ranil. The discussions were rather heated at times and at one point Shritharan pointed out to Sampanthan in an insulting manner that he had got more votes in Kilinochchi than Sampanthan in Trincomalee.

 
Finally the inner -party discussions ended with all MPs agreeing that the TNA should support the PM by voting against the NCM. However some MPs now felt that they should extract some concessions from the Prime Minister in return for supporting him. It was pointed out that the UNP Jaffna MP Ms. Vijayakala Maheswaran and some UNP organizers had been given a “quota” in job appointments whereby they were able to provide employment to their supporters. Some TNA MPs wanted to demand such quotas from the PM.

 
Principled position based on higher deals
A visibly angry Sampanthan rejected this suggestion saying he would not subscribe to this course of action. He said the TNA position on this was that the present Govt under this Prime minister should continue in order to implement the democratization and Constitution making process. Several other MPs including Senathirajah and Sumanthiran also rejected this suggestion saying this amounted to asking for “political patronage”. Sampanthan pointed out that the TNA was taking a principled position based on higher ideals and should not stoop down to the level of exchanging votes for jobs. This viewpoint was accepted with a compromise. It was suggested that the TNA parliamentarians should meet the Prime Minister directly and inform him of their decision to support him. However they would air their grievances about the slow progress in constitution making, release of Tamil detenues, return of lands and other issues to Wickremesinghe and seek a guarantee that he would provide redress.
A delegation of TNA parliamentarians led by Sampanthan therefore called upon Wickremesinghe and explained the position. The MPs outlined their grievances and sought a guarantee from Wickremesinghe that he would address them in due course. Most of the matters raised were not new with some being issues of discussion from the time this Govt came into being. A common thread in the grievances was the lack of speed and not enough being done to address concerns. The issues raised were categorised into ten main points. They were as follows -

 
1. Expediting the political discussions to bring about a negotiated settlement

2. Renewing the dormant Constitution making process to enact a new Constitution

3. Hastening the return of lands in the North-east occupied by the armed forces back to the civilian owners

4. Speedy release of all Tamil political detenues

5. Tracing the whereabouts of Missing persons and those made to disappear during the war

6. Greater employment opportunities for youths in the North and East

7. Giving preference to people already resident in the areas over non-residents when making government service appointments in the North and East

8. Appointment of Tamil-speaking administrators in Tamil-speaking divisions in the North and East

9. Prioritising development projects being undertaken by the Northern and Eastern provincial councils

10. Giving top consideration to proposals made by MPs of the North and East when launching development projects in those areas.

 
Understanding reached without a formal agreement
As stated earlier there was nothing new or problematic in these proposals and the Prime Minister had no difficulty in agreeing to them. The ten categories of issues discussed were itemised into twelve points and put on paper. Two of the points raised had been broken up into two thereby increasing the number to twelve. Ranil Wickremesinghe placed his signature along with a few lines indicating that he had taken due note of the points mentioned and that he would guarantee speedy implementation of those proposals.

 
He said that he would refer to them in his parliamentary speech and also asked Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera who was present to elaborate more on the issues raised in his speech. Samaraweera consented. Thereafter a satisfied TNA departed having reached an understanding with the Prime minister and obtaining assurances without entering into any formal pact or forging a UNP- TNA agreement.

However the TNA felt that as a matter of courtesy they should inform President Sirisena also of their decision to vote against the no-confidence motion. TNA leader Sampanthan and deputy leader Senathirajah sought an appointment and met with President Sirisena. They told the President that the TNA wanted the present government to continue with the same Prime Minister for the 2015 Mandate to be implemented and promises fulfilled. Sirisena was non committal. After informing the president about the NCM the TNA leaders also complained about irregular land settlement practices under the Mahaweli development scheme in Mullaitivu district. Sirisena who is the Mahaweli development minister promised to look into the problem and resolve it.

 
What the TNA did not know at the time they met the President was that Maithripala Sirisena had earlier reacted strongly against the notion of TNA supporting Wickremesinghe against the NCM. When a UNP delegation had called on him, President Sirisena had said that if the NCM were to be defeated with the help of TNA votes it would not go down well with the Sinhala people. Minister Mangala Samaraweera had then retorted by asking Sirisena why it was wrong to get TNA votes in Parliament against the NCM when Sirisena had obtained millions of Tamil votes mobilised by the TNA to win the Presidential contest against Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2015. The president was silent. Later in Parliament the TNA’s MA Sumanthiran was to refer to this incident in his speech but there has been no response from the President so far.

 
D-day dawned on April 4th. All 15 TNA parliamentarians including the bereaved Siddarthan met in the morning where Sumanthiran read out once again the 12 points discussed with Prime Minister Wickremesinghe in English and translated them into Tamil for the record. All MPs then pledged that they would vote against the no-confidence motion. TELO leader Selvam  Adaikkalanathan noted that the TELO would vote against the NCM though his party central committee had unanimously decided to abstain. When Parliament commenced Sampanthan outlined the TNA position succinctly in his speech and emphasised why the party was voting against the NCM.

 
Sampanthan’s succinct speech in Parliament

 
Leader of the opposition Sampanthan stated as follows -
“We are debating a Motion of No-Confidence against no less a person than the PM, and the Motion substantially deals with the question of corruption. Corruption has been the worst disease that has afflicted our country. There was a time when there was no complaint of corruption. But, in recent years, corruption has been the worst disease. The roots of corruption must be eradicated, and I think there is a general agreement that politicians, probably, constitute the roots of corruption. I think that needs to be addressed and eradicated”

The Tamil people have for long been estranged from the Sri Lankan mainstream. They are now slowly and surely coming in from the cold of political wilderness and entering Sri Lanka’s public life again.

“With regard to the CB Bond scam, consequent to investigations, two persons are presently in custody. There has been a warrant issued against another person and investigations are proceeding. No one should be spared”.

 
“The question must be raised as to why the wording is so vague, lacking in any specific charge against the PM, with regard to the fraud pertaining to the Bond scam per se. Why should this NCM be brought now, at this point of time, is another question that I would like to pose to the House. I want to pose the question whether this NCM against the PM is the first step in a plan to bring down totally and completely, the present Government. President Maithripala Sirisena and PM Ranil Wickremesinghe were elected on a certain mandate. What was that mandate? Firstly, the resolution of the national question which has plagued this country for the past 70 years. A part of the mandate granted was to uphold democracy in this country and avert this country from moving towards totalitarianism and dictatorship. The President and the PM were elected on the democratic verdict of the people, for certain fixed periods of time, under the Constitution”.

 
“In the interests of this country, in the interests of all the people in this country, in working together with the two main political parties, we would like all of us to come together”

 
Minority ethnicities solidly behind Ranil
At voting time all 16 MPs elected from the TNA in 2015 voted against the NCM. This included the EPRLF’s Sivasakthy Anandan also. The motion was defeated by 46 votes. The voting once again revealed that the minority ethnicities of the Island were solidly behind Ranil Wickremesinghe. The majority of Tamil and Muslim MPs voted against the no-confidence motion. About seven Tamil and Muslim MPs absented themselves at voting time. What is important however is to note that no Tamil or Muslim MP (except Dr. Sudarshani Fernandopulle) voted for the no-confidence motion against Ranil. Even SLFP Wani district MP Cader Masthan who had signed the NCM earlier kept away from the House at voting time.

 
The Tamil National Alliance can take justifiable pride in voting against the no-confidence motion. It was the TNA decision that removed uncertainty and tilted the decision in the Premier’s favour. It was after the TNA decision that President Sirisena realising the NCM battle was lost backed out and asked the SLFP to abstain from voting. It was the TNA decision that thwarted the conspiracy within UNP ranks to vote against their leader. It was also the TNA decision that convinced the fence sitters among Muslim parties to decide firmly on voting against the NCM instead of abstaining. Once it became known that the TNA was firmly behind Wickremesinghe, it was obvious that the NCM would be defeated and this impacted on the voting stances of undecided parties and MPs. Also it was the TNA support which helped Ranil Wickremesinghe greatly to exceed the magic number of 113 by nine more votes.

 
It remains to be seen whether Ranil Wickremesinghe would be able to function as an effective prime minister in the future despite proving he has the confidence of the majority in Parliament. It is patently clear that President Sirisena is yet opposed to his Prime Minister. This is likely to result in further friction or paralyse the administration. Although the TNA voted on the basis that retention of the Prime Minister and government were necessary to implement the 2015 mandate including the promulgation of a new Constitution , it is highly unlikely that such an eventuality would come to pass. President Sirisena’s current political approach as well as the racist campaign that would be unleashed by the Rajapaksa led opposition may constrain the government from proceeding further on that road.
What is likely to happen or not happen in the future is in the realm of the unknown. What is certain is the here and now. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has withstood and overcome a tripartite conspiracy to topple him from his post. The minority political parties especially the TNA have played a constructive role in helping the Premier to defeat the no-confidence motion. The TNA has demonstrated that it is a political party that will not shirk its duties despite racist intimidation to do what is right and ensure the stability and continuity of an elected government. The decision has been based on principle rather than expediency. It is very probable that the TNA will be severely criticised by those supportive of the NCM but the party should be proud that it has done the right thing.

 
Tamil people coming in from the cold 
The Tamil people have for long been estranged from the Sri Lankan mainstream. They are now slowly and surely coming in from the cold of political wilderness and entering Sri Lanka’s public life again. By doing so they are proving that they are and will be an integral component of the Sri Lankan nation. The TNA’s commendable and constructive role in helping defeat the no-confidence motion against the Prime Minister is indisputable proof of that positive and progressive process



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