SLMC keeps Rajapaksa, TNA on tenterhooks
By P K Balachandran - COLOMBO
17th September 2012 11:47 AM
It is over a week since the results of the elections to the Eastern Provincial Council (EPC) were announced, and yet, there is no knowing as to which party or combination of parties will form the government in this multi-ethnic province.
The September 8 elections had thrown up a hung council. Neither Mahinda Rajapaksa’s United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), which had emerged as the single largest party, nor the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) which came second, is able to form a government. Both are wooing the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) which has seven seats.
The TNA has offered the Chief Minister’s post to the SLMC, while the UPFA has held out the advantages of being with it since it is the ruling party in the all-powerful government at the Centre. It is pointed out that the SLMC has a tradition of being with the ruling party at the Centre and that the Muslim community has gained greatly by this association.
The SLMC is talking to the UPFA as well as the TNA. It met the TNA in Colombo on Sunday but the talks were inconclusive, said TNA spokesman Suresh Premachandran. According to informed political sources, 75 per cent of the rank and file of the SLMC want to go with the UPFA, the government party. But the leadership is trying to strike a good bargain with UPFA. The SLMC is keen on getting the CM’s post and a good portfolio at the Centre for its leader Rauff Hakeem who is now in-charge of a powerless Justice Ministry. But the UPFA cannot overlook the claims of its constituent Muslim parties which had greatly contributed to its victory in the election.
Meanwhile, senior Central Minister D E W Gunasekara made a plea for a national or all-party government to end the impasse. But sources in the UPFA and the TNA said that there were no takers for this suggestion.
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