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Lanka polls: No direction from India to TNA

[Express Buzz, Tuesday, 5 January 2010 17:34 No Comment]

There has been no direction from India on which candidate the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) should support in the upcoming Sri Lankan Presidential election, according to a top TNA source.

“In our interactions with Indian diplomats and officials both here and in New Delhi, we had been told very clearly that we were free to support whichever side was better from the Tamils’ point of view,” said a TNA MP from Jaffna on condition of anonymity.

“India seems to be confused about what it should do in Sri Lanka,” he commented.

TNA HOLDS KEY IN CLOSE CONTEST

Both the Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Sarath Fonseka camps are eagerly awaiting the formal decision of the TNA on who to support, because both parties ,being evenly balanced among the majority Sinhalese community, want to get the votes of the minority Tamils.

Though the Fonseka camp announced on Monday that the TNA had committed itself to it, TNA leaders told Express on Tuesday that no decision had been taken and the consultations were still on.

The main contenders in the Presidential race recognise that the TNA ,with 22 MPs, is the dominant Tamil political force in the North and East ,especially in the former, even after the military decimation of the LTTE six months ago.

There is also an unfounded but wide belief, that the TNA has begun listening to India after the exit of the LTTE in May this year.

“Can’t India ask the TNA to support Rajapaksa?” asked one of Rajapaksa’s campaign managers  anxiously. Likewise, a top aide of the opposition leader, Ranil Wickremesinghe, emphatically said that New Delhi would back the opposition candidate, Fonseka, because Rajapaksa was leaning too much towards China and Pakistan.

INDIA HAS PROBLEMS WITH BOTH CAMPS

However, according to the TNA, New Delhi has problems with both Rajapaksa and Fonseka.

While Rajapaksa is thought to be leaning far too much towards China, and is giving the bulk of the infrastructure development projects to Chinese government companies, one of the main props of Fonseka’s is the virulently anti-Indian Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP).

Recently, the JVP accused the Rajapaksa government of doing things at the instance of the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. It quoted a Pakistani newspaper report which said that even the jettisoning of Gen.Sarath Fonseka from the post of Army chief had been done on the suggestion of the Indian Prime Minister who had allegedly instilled in the Sri Lankan President, fear of a military coup.

Fonseka is also thought to be vulnerable to US influence as a result of his dependence on the pro-West United National Party (UNP), on which he is depending for the bulk of the votes.

CAN FONSEKA WALK THE TALK?

While Rajapaksa has made no promises to the Tamils on moving towards a solution of their political grievances, Fonseka has made promises galore, some which should delight New Delhi. But there is doubt if Fonseka will be able to implement his radical promises, which include politically sensitive matters like general amnesty for LTTE cadre and the dismantling of the High Security Zones.

[Full Coverage]

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