Leader of the Opposition and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) R. Sampanthan has come under severe criticism of the Joint Opposition (JO) for supporting Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and defeating the No-Confidence Motion brought by the JO against him in Parliament a few weeks ago.
It was a couple of months back when Sampanthan addressed Parliament condemning an attack carried out by the Police at a procession of university students in Colombo, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe sarcastically commented on Sampanthan’s speech saying that the Opposition Leader was now more a national leader and speaking in defence of the university students unlike a leader representing his ethnic group.
The Prime Minister wouldn’t have thought at that time that Sampanthan would even speak defending him if a No-Confidence Motion was brought against him in Parliament.
Entering Parliament in 1977, the veteran Tamil politician Sampanthan could be very well described as one of the last of the refined politicians to voice for his people while extending his support to maintain the unity and integrity of the country in a civilized manner.
In October 1980 when two years after Executive Presidency was introduced in the country, the resolution to deprive the late Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike of her civic rights was brought in Parliament and it was the late A. Amirthalingam who was the Leader of the Opposition then addressed Parliament vehemently opposing the move by the J. R. Jayewardene Government of removing her civic rights.
The late Amirthalingam in his speech in defence of Sirimavo Bandaranaike said that the move against her was a political murder which was brought to destroy the democratic values in the country.
So it was after 38 years, following in the footsteps of his predecessor A. Amirthalingam, Leader of the Opposition Sampanthan, spoke in support of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe when the JO tabled the No-Confidence Motion against him a couple of weeks ago in Parliament and ensured the TNA’s support in defeating the JO’s attempt.
Formation of the present regime with the overwhelming support of the minorities in the Island three years ago was mainly aimed at paving the way for good governance while strengthening peace and reconciliation in the country.
Therefore, as a responsible political figure heading the Opposition in Parliament, Sampanthan has proved himself a guardian of democracy by not being carried away by the Joint Opposition which is all out to create a chaotic situation to destabilize the present regime.
Formidable political figure
Joint Opposition flexing its muscles against Sampanthan has clearly indicated its ulterior motives to tighten its grip in national politics by instigating communal sentiments.
Sampanthan not only remains a formidable political figure in the North and the East, but through mature ways of handling national politics, the TNA leader is also considered as a right thinking politician by the peace loving silent majority in the country.
Even the international community has appreciated the sensible dual role of Sampanthan as Leader of the Opposition and as the TNA leader in national politics.
Therefore, JO proving itself a ‘bunch of jokers’ by failing in its attempt to overthrow the Prime Minister a couple of weeks ago is now doing everything to prove itself a vicious element to strike a blow at peace and harmony by attempting to bring a No-Confidence Motion against Sampanthan.
It is at this juncture one should remember how the Tamil leaders of the calibre of Sir Ponnampalam Ramanathan stood by the unity and integrity of the country, when the British gunning were for the leaders in the South.
During the British period Sir Ponnampalam Ramanathan, who was appointed the Solicitor General by the Governor, pursued a campaign against the British Governor and the British Military without batting an eyelid against the imposition of Martial Law and against the arrest, detention and killing of Sinhalese who were perceived by the imperialists as the Public Enemy.
Sir P. Ramanathan did not consider losing his perks and purse, but took the side of the Sinhalese who had been shot by the military. Thousands of innocent men died during this purge. Sir Ponnampalam Ramanathan once wrote: “Take the Sinhala Nation. I have served the race all my life. In my twenty eighth year, I entered the Legislative Council and never once have I thought myself to be a member of the Tamil Community only. I supported the Sinhalese interests and every other interest and treated every subject with the same sympathy and desired to do the best for all the communities. “
So these very words of legendry Sir Ponnampalam Ramanathan in upholding the unity and integrity of all communities are reflected in the thoughts and actions of Leader of the Opposition R. Sampanthan even in the present day politics of the country.