in order of time and also about the great individuals, who toiled hard for the Party to achieve a solution to the ethnic problem. I will limit myself only to matters relating to the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) and the TNA. I hope my efforts will be greatly appreciated, since the present generation knows little or nothing about our recent past and also because what I say is true. I am not a Historian to deal with all aspects of history. But to deal with the history of the TULF, the TNA and about its leaders, I am one of the very few living today who can claim to be one of the founder members of the TULF and the TNA, knowing every leader and many youth leaders personally and about their worthy contributions and sacrifices made by them, in finding a solutions to the long standing ethnic problem. I have a great sacred responsibility to show the world by whatever way possible, that the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK) which is now functioning, has nothing to do with the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK)founded by the great S.J.V.Chelvanayagam who left behind a new formation called the Tamil United Liberation Front, in place of the Federal Party ‘ITAK’ which he intended to wind up with the appointment of two other much respected Tamil leaders Hon.G.G.Ponnambalam Q.C leader of the All Ceylon Tamil Congress and Hon.S.Thondaman leader of the Ceylon Workers Congress to share with him the chair of the TULF. The ITAK now formed was 26 years after the death of the founder and many others connected with it. The legal successor of the original ITAK ‘Federal Party’ is only the TULF. If I remain silent even now, all their sacrifices and the hard work they did risking their lives and some losing their lives as well, will remain buried with their bones.
In the present confused situation it is not that easy to deal with the history of the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) and about the TNA. But my mission is not to confuse the situation further but only to bring to light certain selected incidents relating to both the TULF and the TNA to clarify matters that have hitherto remained concealed, some exaggerated, some misinterpreted and many erased off from the memory of the people. Without going much deep into the matter I will confine myself to the period starting with the reunion of the All Ceylon Tamil Congress (ACTC) and the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Kadchchi (ITAK)the two political parties led by Hon.G.G.Ponnambalam Q.C and the Hon.S.J.V.Chelvanayagam Q.C respectively.
The adoption of the New Republican Constitution in 1972 precipitated a constitutional crisis and at the request of Hon. S.J.V.Chelvanayagam, Hon.G.G.Ponnambalam agreed to merge his party with that of the ITAK to form a new party called the Tamil United Front which later adopted a new name as Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) at a subsequent convention of the Party. Office bearers for the new Party were selected from both groups. Hon.S.J.V.Chelvanayagam became President. Mr.A.Amirthalingam of the ITAK and Mr.M.Sivasithambaram of the ACTC became Joint Secretaries and Mr.V.Anandasangaree of the ACTC and Mr.M.Aalalasundaram of the ITAK became joint Propaganda Secretaries and Mr.T.Thirunavukarasu of the ACTC and Mr.V.Dharmalingam of the ITAK became Joint Treasurers. There were very senior lawyers from both parties like Ex-Senator S.R.Kanaganayagam, M/s T.Sangarapillai, R.Vishvanathan, V.Yogeswaran. K.Selvarajah, S.Rajanayagam, S.Nadarajah and many such other prominent citizens. Mr.S.C.Chandrahasan functioned as legal secretary.
I who represented Kilinochchi in Parliament from the ACTC, was also a founder member of the TULF. At the time of inauguration of the TULF Mr. R.Sampanthan had not join the TULF. Mr. Mavai Senathirajah too, being in detention for writing slogans against the Republican Constitution. At the 1977 General Election 18 of us got elected to Parliament from the North and the East. The Nomination Board of the TULF headed by Hon.S.Thondaman, nominated Mr.R.Sampanthan for the Trincomalee Electorate and Mr.A.Amirthalingam for the K.K.S Electorate. which both of them won. Mr.Senathiraja should know why Mr.A.Amirthalingam was shifted from his Vaddukoddai Electorate to the K.K.S Electorate and also why Mr.S.Nadarajah was not nominated for K.K.S electorate.
From the time the TULF was formed in 1972 till 1983 the TULF was involved very actively in various activities of the TULF, as and when decided by the party. Our leaders served even jail sentences. I served a jail term once. Many of our youths arrested were either tortured or tortured and killed. The leaders and the people had undergone untold hardships. The biggest contribution to democracy any political party ever made in Sri Lanka or elsewhere was the quitting of 18 of us from Parliament, protesting against the extension of term of office of Parliament by a referendum. When we all quit Parliament in July- August 1983, the Government passed the 6th amendment to the constitution in our absence to prevent anyone committed to TULF principles, from contesting a seat without subscribing an oath under the 6th amendment. Our seats remained vacant for a full period of six years. Each one of us has long tales of woe neither understood nor heard of by the present generation, which thinks that there were only one or two like Mr. Mavai Senathirajah who had made the greatest sacrifice for the Tamil cause, when in fact there were thousands of them who had undergone severe hardships. During this time a lot of incidents took place such as 1983 communal riots, resignation of TULF Members of parliament some leaving for India to take up temporary residence, assassination of Hon .V.Dharmalingam and Hon.Alalasundaram, the cold blooded murders of young Party volunteers, some other youths, signing of Indo- Sri Lanka Accord and many more.
After a long break the TULF contested the General Elections in 1989 and got badly beaten due to the unsettled situation and the domination of some armed groups in the North and the East. The TULF managed to get only one seat, that too was from the National list. The National list vacancy was filled by Hon.A.Amirthalingam former Secretary General of the TULF. Within six months he was assassinated. Unfortunately no one offered to give evidence against anybody, although there were people close to the late Mr.A.Amirthalingam at the scene of the incident, no one volunteered to give evidence. One was Mr. Mavai Senathiraja. Many people were keen to have a Presidential Commission appointed to inquire into this murder but those who should have taken interest did not bother about it.
Many were interested only in getting nominated to fill the vacancy in Parliament. It was I who presided over and proposed Mr.Mavai Senathiraja’s name at the meeting held on 16th September,1989 to fill the vacancy. Much later only I came to know that Mr.Mavai Senathiraja wanted to be both the leader of the party and also the nominated membership of Parliament. All members of Mr.A.Amirthalingam’s family were aware of it, because this request was made to Mrs.Mankayarkarasi Amirthalingam. There were several others who participated at that meeting thinking that their names also will be considered. Mr.R.Sampanthan came all the way from India with this idea and Dr. Neelan Thiruchelvam wanted a postponement when Mr.Senathiraja’s name was considered for appointment as nominated MP. Accordingly at a subsequent meeting held on the 05th of October,1989 also, it was I who proposed Mr.Senathiraja’s name and had him nominated to fill the seat occupied by Mr.A.Amirthalingam in Parliament. I hope Mr.Senathiraja and Mr.Sampanthan will remember the difficulty we had in persuading the Commissioner of Elections to accept Mr. Senathiraja’s nomination, because according to the records available with the Commissioner of Elections Mr.A.Amirthalingam’s name was there as the Secretary General of the TULF. I am sure Mr.Senathiraja will agree and Mr.R.Sampanthan will confirm that if not for the declaration made by three of us as members of the politburo, Mr.Senathiraja would not have got it even in his dreams. In any case only very small number of people attended this meeting, most of whom were not members of the party, only supporters. Mr.Mavai Senathiraja was aware about it. Following Mr..A.Amirthalingam’s assassination even important members of the party avoided visiting the office in Colombo for years. Two people who attended the meeting were shot dead one of whom was Mr.Nadesu, a District Council member.
Mr.Senathiraja who got all what he was entitled to as a Member of Parliament, including the vehicle, enjoyed all facilities, but didn’t have the courtesy to give to the party even the Photo Copy machine free which he got from Parliament. The party had to pay him Rs.25, 000 for the machine. Mr.Senathiraja has up to now, not shown his gratitude to those very senior members who kept silent and showed their magnanimity in his nomination as MP. The party underwent severe hardships due to lack of funds. Mr.Senathiraja did not offer to the party even one cent out of the money he realized by the sale of the duty free vehicle. It is painful to come out with some of these matters but unfortunately it is due to his own seeking. Many more will follow.
The next General Election took place on 08th of August, 1994. At that Election due to the dominance of the armed groups the TULF could not win any seat in the North but won four seats in the East totaling five including the one National list seat. Mr.Senathiraja who contested Digamadulla and Mr.R.Sampanthan who contested in Trincomalee lost at the Elections. The only National list seat was justifiably given to Dr.Neelan Thiruchelvam when Mr.M.Sivasithambaram the President of the party was living. Although there were several defeated candidates including me, only Mr.R.Sampanthan and Mr.Mavai Senathiraja were demanding the National seat for themselves. But the party could not give in. In the mean time Hon A.Thangathurai who won the Trincomalee seat was assassinated and that vacancy automatically got filled by Mr.R.Sampanthan who was next in the list. Up to now except me no one had asked for a Presidential Commission to inquire this case also. Mr.Senathiraja and his constituents continued to agitate to get the National list seat inspite of the fact that National list vacancy had already been given to Dr.Neelan Thiruchelvam. They were repeatedly sending deputations from Digamadulla Electorate to pressurize the party. Since Mr.M.Sivasithambaram, the President of the party who was ill in India, I had to take a decision in this matter.
On the 31st of May 1999 I wrote a lengthy letter running to five pages to Dr.Neelan Thiruchelvam explain the situation and asking him to resign his seat and nominate Mr.Mavai Senathiraja in his place, since the Ampara people were harassing me. Their claim was that they had given a substantial number of votes to Mr.Mavai Senathiraja. Since I had to go to Germany to take up the issue of the asylum seekers with the German officials, I wrote another letter briefly on the 05th of July,1999 asking Dr.Neelan to resign the seat and give it to Mr.Mavai Senathiraja without waiting for my arrival. Unfortunately Dr.Neelan Thiruchelvam was assassinated and I had to rush back to Colombo to attend the funeral. A couple of days later Mr. R.Sampanthan as Secretary General of the party convened a meeting which M/s R.Sampanthan, Joseph Pararajasingam, P.Selvarajah,S.Thurairajasingam all of whom were Members of Parliament, Mr.Mavai Senathiraja Mr.S.Thiyagaraja and myself attended. When Mr.R.Sampanthan asked as to who we should nominate, I promptly told him what I wrote to Dr.Neelan before leaving for Germany and expressed my support for his nomination, hearing which Mr.Mavai Senathiraja appeared to be very happy. Accordingly Mr.Mavai Senathiraja was nominated and he was happy that he was qualifying for Parliamentary pension. Those present at the meeting were shocked at my decision and some of them even found fault with me subsequently for offering the National list membership to the same person a second time. As far as I was concerned it was a scarifies on my part to keep the party united. Had I indicated my willingness I would have got it easily. Now I realize my mistake because some of our party members were angry with me for not considering them for the appointment, if I did not want it. If another person had been appointed to this office he would have helped the Party, which was financially poor. Furthermore the embarrassment I suffered due to this appointment cannot be described in words. I earned a number of enemies unnecessarily, all of whom are still angry with me, even more than 25 years after Mr.Mavai Senathiraja was nominated as M.P twice on the initiative taken by me.
The next General Election took place on the 10th of October 2000 without any problem but although the polling was low I came first among the nine members elected for the Electoral District of Jaffna. This Parliament was dissolved after one year and date fixed for the next General Election was 05th December,2001. Before nomination the following leading citizens namely Mr.V.Kailayapillai, Mr.Kandiah Neelakandan Mr.V.R.Vadivetkarasan, Mr.Nimalan Karthikeyan, Mr.S.Thiyagaraja and Mr.S.Jeyapalasingam convened a meeting of four Tamil political parties on the 22nd of October 2001 and formed the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) with Tamil United Liberation Front, All Ceylon Tamil Congress, Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization and EPRLF. This alliance contested the General Election on 05-12-2001 on the symbol of the TULF (Rising Sun). When the TULF met to nominate candidates Mr.Mavai Senathiraja shockingly expressed his wish that at that Election he should be the Chief candidate for the Electoral District of Jaffna. The members of the Nomination Board although disgusted and angry took it as a joke, ignoring his request.
At that Election out of the candidates nominated he selected two strong candidates and canvassed support for the three of them which act was condemned by everybody as unethical and also as a selfish act. At this Election he polled about 33,000 votes while I polled 36,000 votes. This is the time Mr. Mavai Senathiraja started showing his true colours and led the party to total destruction.
After the 2001 Election at the request of Mr.V. Prabaharan the newly elected Members of Parliament paid a visit to Killinochchi and had a good reception with rich lunch and dinner. Much later the LTTE wanted the TULF to recognize them as the Sole Representatives of the Tamil People which I refused to concede because they were not so and also that this claim will prove counterproductive. This is what the Island of 26th March 2003 said “The President of the Tamil United Liberation Front Mr. V.Anandasangaree has stated that his party does not accept the hegemony of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The TULF had accepted the Sole Representative position of the LTTE only in regard to the peace process and the talks with the government.” If this position had been maintained by all, a lot of killings could have been avoided enabling Mr.Prabaharan and several thousand innocent youths to live.
The TULF is a Political Party based on non-violence and founded by the late Hon.S.J.V.Chelvanayagam who was affectionately referred to as Gandhi of Eelam. Gradually the conduct of Mr.Mavai Senathiraja became very shocking. Although he was appointed as nominated M.P twice on my initiative and gave all help to contest to enter Parliament a third time on the TULF ticket. His trying to revive the Federal Party was an outright betrayal of the trust the leaders like Hon. S.J.V.Chelvanayagam, Mr.A.Amirthalingam and such others had on him. The following report in the media raised serious doubt in the minds of the people about the genuineness of this M.P. Mrs.M.Amirthalingam in a statement had said “My husband preserved the registration of the Federal Party for the sole purpose that no undesirable elements could misuse its symbol and the name. He never wanted to revive the Federal Party” She further said “Thus I categorically make it clear to all that I have neither approved nor blessed the revival of the Federal Party but instead condemned it, as this act is a ploy to destroy the TULF which was formed by our great leaders” .
In reply to her Mr.Mavai Senathiraja issued a lengthy false and a contradictory statement saying that the Federal Party and its policies are very well protected by him. The following news dated 14th October, 2003 18 days after his statement appeared in the press under the caption Mavai meets LTTE in Killinochchi “TULF M.P Mavai Senathiraja who is in the process of reviving the Federal Party visited Killinochchi and had meetings with LTTE’s deputy political commissar Thangan on 14.10.2003. The revival of the Federal Party is being undertaken at the behest of the LTTE”. His jugglery stands confirmed with an interview he gave to an English paper that carried it on 19th Oct, 2003 exposing his true colours. To a question, “Is it because the LTTE wanted to get rid of the TULF leadership that they have instructed you to revive the Federal Party,” for which, his answer was, “This is not true. I totally reject it”. In any case convening the convention is the duty of the Secretary of the Party. In our case it was Mr.R.Sampanthan’s business. Furthermore, from 1972 till 2004 a period of 32 years not a single person enrolled as a member of the Federal Party. There is a limit for lies and frauds also. I wish to mention another matter here. Mrs Amirthalingam in her statement had said that her husband had the Federal Party’s registration inforce to prevent anyone, misusing the name and the symbol of the Federal Party. It is for the same reason in 2004 the President of the Federal Party Mr.K.Sinnathurai wanted to file action to prevent Mr.Mavai Senathiraja misusing the name, and the symbol of the Federal Party. But Mr.Mavai Senathiraja sought the support of the LTTE’s Political Head Mr.S.P.Thamilchelvan to silent the President of the Federal Party Mr.Sinnathurai. Even today no one has any right to hold any office in the Federal Party because the Federal Party was not properly constituted.
Apart from bringing disgrace to the much respected leaders like Hon.S.J.V.Chelvanayagam Hon.G.G.Ponnambalam, Mr.A.Amirthalingam, Mr.M.Sivasithambaram and dishonor to the innocent and genuine supporters of the TULF, it is very low on the part of some leaders, who pretend to be followers of the great leader, affectionately called and referred to as Gandhi of Sri Lanka, to misuse his name for their personal gains. The leader of this group is none other than Mr.Mavai Senathiraja.
The TULF as a mark of respect, through the CWC leader Hon.S.Thondaman honored him with the title ‘Mootharignar’ at the Silver Jubilee celebration of the ITAK on 18-12- 1974 at the Ramakrishna Mission Hall at Wellawatte. It was also at this function that only I was privileged to adorn him with a ‘Golden Shawl’ ‘Ponnadai’. This was the last function ever held in the name of the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK) during S.J.V’s life time. Not only that, from that day till 2004 when his name was misused, covering a period 30 years , only the name TULF was used at all Elections and all positions were held in the name of the TULF.
He never, even in his dreams, intended to revive the ITAK after the Silver Jubilee celebration. For all intends and purposes he wanted the Tamil United Liberation Front to attend to all matters relating to the Tamil speaking people including the Up-Country sector. He also wished to have all Tamil speaking people under one umbrella. As a prelude to this, while living, he shared the chair of the TULF with two others, much respected by the Tamil speaking people, Hon.S.Thondaman and Hon.G.G.Ponnambalam, the leaders of the CWC and the ACTC respectively. Since these three leaders are no more, it does not mean that anyone can usurp their place.
In 2001 four parties the TULF, ACTC, TELO and EPRLF formed the TNA at the request of some Tamil leading citizens. I was elected as its Chairman. From the time the TULF was formed in 1972 till 2001 when the TNA was formed and thereafter till the General Election held in 2004, the TULF continued to function. Mr Mavai Senathiraja who was opposed to the TULF, fraudulently replaced it with the ITAK in the TNA without the knowledge of the other constituents. This too is an arbitrary act. The ITAK founded by Hon.S.J.V.Chelvanayagam that remained defunct for a long period has nothing to do with the ITAK which Mr.Senathiraja claims to have revived on somebody’s advice. Therefore neither the removal of the TULF from the TNA nor accommodating the ITAK in the TNA is justifiable. Not only that, this incident had very serious repercussions on the Tamil people. The worst part is, their accepting the LTTE as the National leaders and as the Sole Representatives of the Tamil people. They had also vouched to support the LTTE to achieve their objectives. This commitment will mean that the TNA should take responsibility for all actions the LTTE got involved in, from the day the TNA released its manifesto at the 2004 Parliamentary Elections.
The General Election of April 2004 was the worst political disaster the country as a whole, ever faced, completely derailing the democratic process in the North and the East for which Hon.R.Sampanthan and Hon.Mavai Senathiraja should be held responsible. Duties of the Government officials were taken over by the LTTE. At the end of the day all the 22 candidates of the TNA were declared elected, creating a record polling of over 95% of the votes. All rival candidates were not allowed to campaign or even to vote. Hon.R.Sampanthan and Hon. Mavai Senathiraja of the TNA were two of the 22 who won the elections. Since this victory was forced on them with the connivance of the LTTE, they should have resigned enbloc, the very next day. But they comfortably occupied all the 22 seats for a full term of six years, enjoying all benefits. The request made by the International Monitoring Teams to annul the elections and to hold fresh elections was turned down by the Commissioner of Elections, on the grounds that there was no provision for such arrangements in the Elections Ordinance.
The Government that should have taken remedial measures did not take any action. The Members so elected, should have been either removed or expelled from Parliament. They did not resign their seats on their own or any legal action taken again them. Instead all these 22 Members, who were 10% of the total Membership of Parliament, which was 225, continued to serve their full term of six years uninterruptedly. They also contested the next election with their legal disability and won 14 seats by obtaining only 10% of the total votes. The TULF was not merely defeated at the poll. The TULF a moderate political party committed to non-violence that had 18 members in Parliament once, was virtually got rid of forever, by illegal means and without any action taken by the Government to have it reinstated. The irony is some who lost the Election in the morning surprisingly won in the evening. Furthermore for the assassinations of M/s Kingsly Rasanayagam, N.Raviraj, T.Maheswaran, Laxman Kathirgamar, Rajan Sathiyamoorthy and for the killings of over five hundred innocent people and injuring over 1500 others are commitments for which M/s R.Sampanthan and Mavai Senathiraja, should be held responsible for misleading the TNA and for all crimes committed till the end of the war. The irony is that some of the authors of this master plan, who got defeated at the 2004 General Elections in the morning and later in the day, won the election mysteriously. The truth is that the Election was conducted by the LTTE and these gentlemen owe their victory to the LTTE. These are the great leaders now wanting the LTTE to be tried for War Crimes, having encouraged them as Sole Representative of the Tamil people and indirectly appreciated and encouraged all their activities.
I have brought out, although not in full detail, a brief history of the Tamil United Liberation Front, and that of the TNA to show the world as to what an important role the TULF had played from the time of its inception. The inauguration of the TULF was the product of great sacrifices made by two great men second only to the patriots like Sir.Ponnambalam Ramanathan, Sir.Ponnambalam Arunachalam and such others. The said two leaders S.J.V.Chelvanayagam and G.G.Ponnambalam put aside their petty differences for the benefit of the Tamil cause and formed the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF). I being a founder member of the TULF which was founded based on Gandhian principles by no less a person than the late Hon.S.J.V.Chelvanayagam popularly known and referred to as Eelathu Gandhi and Thanthai Chelva. The revival of the Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi, 26 years after the demise of the founder who wound it up and replaced it with the Tamil United Liberation Front was the greatest political betrayal of the last Century. Thanthai Selva shared the Presidentship of the TULF with the two great leaders Hon.G.G.Ponnambalam Q.C and Hon.S.Thondaman to look after all the interest of the Tamil speaking people and to promote unity among them.
A massive 80 foot tall pillar with the ‘Rising Sun’ emblem engraved on its top, erected by the grateful people of Sri Lanka, stands majestically at the Jaffna esplanade on the spot where he was cremated and will continue to remain so, may be perhaps till the end of the Universe. In the tomb adjoining this pillar his remains lay entombed.
Since major part of this great personality’s history has been concealed and distorted due to the confusion created by the revival of the ITAK ‘Federal Party’, I had a sacred duty by him to let the whole world know as to what had happened to the TULF and the Federal Party founded by him. This is to inform the public and all concerned all over the world that the TULF still functions. The Federal Party claimed to have been revived by an individual 26 years after the founder was cremated as the leader of the Tamil United Liberation Front and a monument erected by the grateful public of Sri Lanka, the progress of the TULF had been deliberately curtailed and the founder insulted.
If our great leader’s soul is to rest in peace, the Federal Party that is now functioning should be wound-up. All those concerned should dissolve it and join the TULF, the doors of which will be kept opened for anybody who honestly love and respect Thanthai Chelva.
V.Anandasangaree Secretary General –TULF