Ganesan, V. Anandasangaree, Douglas Devananda, Gajen
Ponnambalam, R. Sampanthan, Suresh Premachandran, S.
sathasivam, Karuna Alias. V. Muralitharan, Pillan alias
S. Chandrakanthan, T. Sritharan and Arumugam Thondaman
By Dilrukshi Handunnetti
north prepares to hold a poll to elect members to two
local bodies, it is important to consider how prepared
the war ravaged area is with its disrupted civil
administration and many attendant post conflict
problems. In this aspect, the north bears no comparison
to the east where there is still sporadic outbursts of
by a ruthless guerilla warlord for nearly three decades,
the Tamil people have immediate needs. Forced into
subjugation by the LTTE in its quest for sole
representation of the Tamil people, the people were left
with no choice.
the northern infrastructure is weak, there are over
280,000 IDPs to deal with, the area is heavily mined and
the terrain is significantly devastated. Gigantic
rebuilding efforts are necessary before elections, but
the polls are on.
a look at the political choices the Tamil people may
have, it is interesting to find some 16 registered Tamil
political parties in Sri Lanka.
According to the Department of Elections, rival groups
have made claims over the TULF and EPRLF symbols, given
that party splits remain unresolved.
the 16 registered Tamil political parties, only six
groups have representation in parliament.
Tamil National Alliance (TNA) or Ilankai Thamil Arasu
Katchchi comprising five political parties is the
largest Tamil political alliance in the House with 22
DPF formerly known as the WPF has a single member, Mano
Ganesan who is part of the opposition.
EPDP has single member representation in parliament and
is a constituent partner of the ruling alliance. The
other parties in alliance with the government are the
CWC and UPF.
Despite the attendant problems, the government appears
keen to hold elections stating it is vital to restore
normalcy and for the establishment of democratic
this backdrop, questions over the need for
demilitarisation have come to the fore.
Moderate Tamil political leaders like V. Ananadasangaree
have criticised other political outfits such as
government constituent partner EPDP for alleged violence
in the north.
Siddarthan, whose own father was assassinated by the
LTTE, feels it is still premature to hold polls in the
north and prefers an opportunity for the people to
settle in their homes and villages.
that the LTTE has managed to wipe out dissenting Tamil
political opinion, there are fears that a different
brand of militancy may replace the LTTE terror.
Tamils in the northeast on the face of it may have so
many political parties to choose from. Whether these
parties would now field new faces and inject fresh blood
into the northern political sphere remains to be seen.
poses a challenge for the voters, it also remains a
monumental challenge for the Tamil political parties to
overcome all forms of violence and to freely elect
north’s challenges are many, and the announcement of
polls is expected to be a much-awaited opportunity for
the northern voters to turn a new leaf in which
militancy has no role and guns cannot suppress the true
political expression of the people.
Akila Ilankai Thamil Congress (ACTC) (Symbol - Bicycle)
oldest Tamil political party in Sri Lanka, the ACTC was
founded in 1944 by G.G. Ponnambalam who made the call
for 50-50 political representation for the Tamil
community. Much water had flown since then and ahead of
the 2001 elections, ACTC joined the LTTE backed TNA, a
broader alliance. The party is today represented in
parliament by ACTC Leader Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam.
Ilankai Tamil United Front (Symbol - Orange)
recently formed political grouping, Akila Ilankai Tamil
United Front is also referred to as the Tamil United
Front. The AITUF was inaugurated in December 2005. It
received the recognition of the Commissioner of
Elections in February 2006.
General Secretary of the party is D.K. Vigneswaran.
Ilankai Thamil Arasu Kachchi (TNA) (Symbol - House)
Tamil National Alliance (TNA) or Ilankai Thamil Arasu
Kachchi has some of the most senior Tamil politicians
representing the northeast. It was formed in 2001 with
the backing of the LTTE and became the largest Tamil
political group to sit in parliament with 22
legislators. It consists of five political parties,
namely ITAK, ACTC, TULF, EPRLF and TELO. It is headed by
Trincomalee legislator, R. Sampanthan.
Ealavar Democratic Front (Symbol - Plough)
party has its main office in Karaitivu and is headed by
Rajanathan Prabhakaran. It is the political wing of the
former militant outfit EROS.
Eelam Peoples’ Democratic Party (EPDP) (Symbol - Veena)
EPDP is a northern-based political party with a
chequered political history. It has some senior
politicians and like many others, has a militant past.
The leadership entered mainstream politics following the
Indo-Lanka Peace Accord.
by Social Services and Social Welfare Minister Douglas
Devananda, himself a former militant, the EPDP is the
only Tamil constituent partner in the government and is
known for its anti-LTTE stance. It is also accused of
much political violence.
Eelam Peoples’ Revolutionary Liberation Front (Symbol -
Kandiah Premachandran or Suresh Premachandran is the
public face of this party with a long established
political career. Premachandran is also a former
militant who later entered mainstream politics following
the Indo Lanka Peace Accord. He is the only
parliamentarian at present to have belonged to the
controversial Northeastern Provincial Council headed by
Varatharajah Perumal who unilaterally declared a
separate state in the northeast on a subsequent
party is also known as the EPRLF Suresh Wing.
Eelam National Democratic Liberation Front (ENDLF)
(Symbol - Bull)
party came into being in 1987 when Paranthan Rajan broke
away from PLOTE and formed it. Based in Kilinochchi, the
hotbed of militant Tamil politics, ENDLF’s present
Secretary General is G. Gnanasekeran.
(Symbol - Fish)
Symbolic of the divisions in politics, the Ceylon
Democratic Unity Alliance takes its roots from the CWC
and is considered a breakaway party of the CWC. Its
Secretary General is S. Sathasivam and is also based in
Nuwara Eliya, the CWC fiefdom.
Democratic Tamil National
(Symbol - Brass lamp)
political alliance comprising three important anti-LTTE
parties, it is popularly known as the DTNA. Headed by
TULF Leader Veerasingham Anandasangaree, the alliance
includes the Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation
Front (EPRLF-Pathmanaba) and PLOTE headed by P.
Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP) (Symbol - Boat)
party founded by a renegade LTTE leader Vinayagamoorthy
Muralitharan alias Karuna Amman in a bid to enter
mainstream politics, it later fell into the hands of
party Deputy Leader, Eastern Province Chief Minister,
Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan. Following
a leadership battle, Muralitharan opted to obtain SLFP
membership. The TMVP contested the EPC in 2008 and
elected Chandrakanthan as Chief Minister.
Peoples’ Front of Liberation Tigers (Symbol - Tiger)
Recognised as the defunct political wing of the LTTE, it
is headed by Yogaratnam Yogi, a hardcore LTTE member who
emerged in the limelight when nominations were called
for the Eastern Provincial Council (EPC) election.
went out of the radar a few years ago and is still
remembered for the symbolic laying down of arms he
performed at the Palaly Air Base in 1987 in the presence
of Army Commander, General Sepala Attygalle.
signature appeared on the PFLT nomination list for the
EPC as Dilip Yogaratnam.
(Symbol - Anchor)
Contested in EPC and elected a member for Batticaloa. It
enjoys considerable support in the east. The party
General Secretary is S. Sathanandan.
Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (TELO) (Symbol -
is a Tamil political organisation that campaigns for the
establishment of an independent Tamil homeland in the
northeast of Sri Lanka. Originally created as a militant
group, it functioned as such until 1986, when most of
its membership was killed in a conflict with the
Liberation Tigers. Its surviving members organised
themselves into a political party and continues to
function as such today. The TELO currently has three
Members of Parliament and is part of the TNA. The party
General Secretary is N. Indrakumar.
TULF (Symbol - Sun)
the key Tamil political parties in the country, the TULF
has been in the forefront of the Tamil political
struggle. On May 4, 1972, several Tamil political groups
including the ACTC formed the Tamil United Front (TUF).
The Federal Party joined the TUF in 1976. The TUF
changed its name thereafter to the Tamil United
Liberation Front (TULF) and adopted a demand for an
independent state to be known as the “Secular, Socialist
State of Tamil Eelam.”
Following the 1977 general elelciton, the TULF secured
6.40% of the popular vote and 18 out of 168 seats in the
legislature including all 14 seats in the Northern
Province. The TULF’s rise to become the main
parliamentary opposition caused Sinhala dissent and
sparked off violence.
Pathmanabha Eelam Revolutionary Liberation Front (PERLF)
(Symbol - Candle)
after Kumar Pathmanaba, the charismatic EPRLF leader who
was assassinated by the LTTE, this is a party that is
currently in alliance with the DTNA. Its anti LTTE
stance is well known and has T. Sridharan functioning as
party General Secretary.
Democratic Peoples’ Front (DPF) (Symbol - Ladder)
Registered with the Elections Department only recently,
the party’s public face is Leader Mano Ganesan. The DPF
is the renamed Western Peoples’ Front (WPF) initially to
give leadership to Tamils in the Western Province.
political organisation expanded shortly and now has
representatives in a few other provinces. Ganesan also
initiated the Civil Monitoring Commission to monitor
abductions, disappearances and extortions, and won
CWC-P Wing (Symbol - Cockerel)
Founded by Saumyamoorthy Thondaman to chiefly advocate
the rights of Indian origin estate workers and their
descendants, this political party finds its base in
over a decade, the CWC was considered the ‘king maker’
given the party’s ability to form winning coalitions,
with the traditional ally being the UNP. But since 1994,
the CWC has stayed with the ruling party.
Today, it is for all purposes headed by party General
Secretary Arumugam Thondaman, who is also Minister of
Youth Empowerment and Social Development.
Politicians killed by the LTTE and other militant
groups in the last three decades
Mayor and MP
July 27, 1975
K T Pulendran
UNP Vavuniya Organiser
April 24, 1981
A J Rajasooriya
UNP Batticaloa MC MMC
August 12, 1983
September 1, 1989
MP for Manipay
District Secretary, Ceylon Communist Party
TULF Kalmunai Organiser
September 2, 1985
May 6, 1986
March 8, 1988
March 28, 1988
TULF Member and
TULF Leader and former Leader of the
Opposition Former TULF MP
March 7, 1989
July 13, 1989
July 13, 1989
July 13, 1989
EPRLF Leader with
EPRLF MP (while in Madras)
Provincial Minister for Northwest
President of Sri Lanka and UNP Leader
Opposition Leader and UNP presidential
candidate with 58 party activists
June 19, 1990
July 28, 1990
May 7, 1990
June 10, 1990
April 23, 1993
May 1, 1990
October 24, 1994
S. P. Dharmalingam
Dr. Neelan Tiruchelvam
C V. Gooneratne
Jaffna SLFP Organiser
Jaffna Mayor (TULF)
Jaffna Mayor (TULF)
ACTC President and
TNA MP for Batticaloa
UPFA Foreign Minister
Batticaloa TNA MP
July 5, 1997
May 19, 1998
September 11, 1998
July 29, 1998
November 2, 1999
January 5, 2000
June 2, 2000
June 7, 2000
February 7, 2005
August 12, 2005
December 25, 2005
Nadarajah Raviraj Jaffna
March 6, 2008
November 10, 2006
D M Dassanayaka
Chief Government Whip and UPFA Minister
January 8, 2008
April 6, 2008