The Joint Opposition (JO) which has been making headlines pertaining to its moves to form a separate political party with former president Mahinda Rajapaksa at the helm is now trying to reach out to the minority communities in order to muster more support.
Former Minister Basil Rajapaksa, who is spearheading the efforts to launch a new party, stated that they had already commenced discussions with their supporters in the area in order to commence a campaign to gain the support of the Tamils in the Northern Province.
The Northern political front has been full of action during and after the war due to various reasons. The political parties of the North were quite silent, or virtually nonexistent during the war simply because of the presence of the LTTE.
The existence of the LTTE prevented other political parties to be active in the North and East. There were the likes of the Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) led by Douglas Devananda, and the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP) initially led by Vinayagamurthi Muralitharan and then by Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan, which managed to function to some extent.
The post-war scenario brought in a change in terms of democracy and participation of political parties in mainstream politics. Those who kept silent owing to fear came to the fore. The environment provided all political outfits to have their say in matters pertaining to the welfare of the Northern Province and its people.
However, it also brought about certain confusions owing to the conflicting stances taken by certain politicians of the same alliance. The alleged cold war between the Tamil National Alliance and Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran and the recent events which speculated a rift within the TNA had created a confused environment in the North in the recent past.
However, despite these confusions, the TNA has not lost its foothold in the North. However, it is important that it does not take this for granted as since of late, the alliance had been facing a lot of criticisms for its lethargic approach on key issues pertaining to the immediate needs of the war-affected people.
Room for new party
In this scenario where the TNA continues to be a dominant party, it is in fact difficult for a new party to enter the political stage of the North. If the Joint Opposition is to be successful in mustering the support of the Tamils in the North, then it is important that it resonates with the sentiments of the people.
The approach of the JO in reaching the people would be the key factor. So far the likes of LTTE, TNA and other minor political parties who have been successful have played the nationalist card in order to garner votes. Therefore, it would not be an easy task for the Joint Opposition to break into the scene.
TNA on alert
On the other hand, the TNA needs to be on the alert and keep a watch in the developments of the South. The people in the North, especially the youth, are exposed to the world. It was not the case 30 years ago. This exposure would definitely allow the youth to make calculated decisions based on the situation in the South. Therefore, it will not be easy for the likes of TNA to continue to be successful with the Tamil Nationalist card.
The people would eventually need a change. Therefore, the TNA needs to make sure that it adapts to the situation.
The TNA had in fact softened its stance pertaining to the government and had backed the current regime on several issues. However, the people have been waiting for a solution for years after the war and the party must act before the patience runs off.