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NEW DELHI: The sweeping victory of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) in the first-ever elections for an semi-autonomous Northern Province Council in Sri Lanka held on Saturday comes as a welcome development for India which has been pressing Colombo for more autonomy to the Tamil areas.
The victory of the TNA will help India now boldly ask the Sinhala majority Sri Lankan authorities to start the process of granting more autonomy to Tamils after years of ethnic war which ended four years ago with the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam.
The TNA swept the polls by winning 30 out of 38 seats for the Northern Province Council.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s ruling United People’s Freedom Front (UPFA) won just seven seats. One seat went to the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC).
The Tamil-majority Northern Province, which reported voter turnout of over 62 percent, went to the polls along with the North-Western and the Central Provinces on Saturday.
TNA spokesperson Suresh Premachandran, who is also an MP, alleged that the TNA sweeping victory came despite the army working for the ruling United People’s Freedom Front (UPFA). He said the mandate for the TNA is a strong message for Columbo, New Delhi and the international community about the apirations of the supressed Tamils of Sri Lanka.
TNA leader R. Sampanthan also called the polls the most flawed, alleging that the army and the EPDP intimidated voters.
The TNA bagged 14 seats in Jaffna district and three each in Mannar and Kilinochchi districts. It won four seats each in Mullaitivu and Vavunia districts in preferential votes.
For the ruling UPFA, its candidates won two seats each in Jaffna and Vavunia districts and one each in other three districts. The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) won one seat in Mannar district.
Though there was no official word yet from New Delhi on the election results, DMK chief M. Karunanidhi hailed the TNA victory.
“I welcome this victory. I hope the new government and its members will work hard for implementation of the 13th amendment to the Sri Lankan constitution as expected by the Tamils the world over,” the DMK patriarch said.