All 325 members of the TNA General Committee and 50 others in the Special Central Committee are scheduled to be present in Trincomalee today (21) to elect a new leader for the party, according to party sources.
As the race for the party leadership intensified in the last couple of weeks with three members — Jaffna district MPs MA Sumanthiran, S Sritharan, and former Batticaloa District MP S. Yogeswaran — vying for the post, opinion among the Central Committee members is highly divided over regional differences, party sources said.
They added that the new leader would be chosen by a secret vote of the 375 Committee members. Sumanthiran was believed leading the race. But Yogeswaran last Wednesday (17) met Sritharan in Batticaloa and addressed a press conference, party sources said. This was interpreted as a signal that Yogeswaran was throwing his weight behind Sritharan who is said to have been able to secure the backing of a bloc of Tamil diaspora votes. Although he spoke at the Batticaloa press conference alongside Sritharan, Yogeswaran did not declare himself out of the race.
Trilingual Sumanthiran, a President’s Counsel and a reputed lawyer may have an advantage in today’s vote as he commands popular support not only among Tamils but also other communities, some TNA sources said.
At the Batticaloa press conference, Sritharan rebuffed suggestions that he would not be suitable for leader as he was not as fluent in English as Sumanthiran saying English proficiency and legal skills alone would not provide a solution for the problems of Tamil people.
In videos that went viral on social media platforms, Sritharan went on to state that all three candidates are well qualified to lead the party. He would endeavour to mobilize and bring together the various Tamil parties in the diaspora.
The decision to appoint a new leader comes against the backdrop of both TNA leader R. Sampanthan and ITAK leader Mavai Senathirajah due to retire from politics this year.Party sources said that although Sampanthan had requested the three contestants to have talks and reach a consensus on the next leader, such efforts have failed.
Born on Feb 09, 1964, Mathiaparanan Abraham Sumanthiran, PC has a BSc (Physics) degree, LL.M (Internet and Electronic Law) and is an alumnus of Royal College, Colombo. He has also studied at the Monash University’s Clayton Campus, University of Madras and Monash University Faculty of Law. He has been an MP since 2010 and is married to a Methodist Christian.
Sivagnanam Sritharan was born on Dec 8, 1968. He is from Kandavalai in Kilinochchi District though he is originally from Delft Island. He was educated at Jaffna Hindu College. After school, he joined the University of Jaffna and has 20 years of experience as a teacher and a principal from 1990 to 2010 when he was elected an MP. He is a Hindu and is married to the sister of a senior LTTE fighter, ‘Brigadier’ Theepan (Velayuthapillai Baheerathakumarn).
Seeniththamby Yogeswaran was born on April 26, 1970 and was elected an MP in the 2010 general election from the Batticaloa District. He was re-elected at the 2015 parliamentary election but lost his seat at the last general election. He is married and a Hindu.
Source: The Island