Maheswaran nominated UNP candidate in Colombo

[TamilNet, Saturday, 21 February 2004, 14:06 GMT]
Mr. Thiyagarajah Maheswaran, former minister for Hindu Affairs and ex MP for Jaffna, will contest in Colombo as a candidate of the United National Party, sources said. UNP officials said that the ex minister was expected to sign nomination papers for the electoral district of Colombo Saturday evening. Mr. Maheswaran announced last week that he was not contesting the April elections to Sri Lanka’s Parliament in Jaffna and was retiring from politics.

Mr. Maheswaran is a millionaire businessman from Colombo. He hails from Karainagar in Jaffna. He contested and won elections to Sri Lanka’s Parliament in Jaffna in 2000, becoming the first UNP candidate to elected in Jaffna after more than forty-two years.

He won again in 2001 and was made a non cabinet minister in Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government. UNP sources said that the party persuaded him to contest in Colombo in view of the large number of Jaffna voters who are resident in the island’s capital.

Many Tamil families involved in wholesale commodities trade in Colombo’s main business district are from Karainagar. Mr. Maheswaran’s surprise nomination will undermine the Tamil vote bank of Mr. Mano Ganeshan, leader of the Western Province People’s Front.

Mr. Mano Ganeshan held several rounds of talks with the Liberation Tigers since last year, which he claimed were aimed at bringing about Tamil unity in all parts of the island. However, as soon as President Kumaratunga dissolved Parliament and announced elections he said that he would contest Colombo as a UNP candidate and that Tamil National Alliance should support him in the city by not fielding its own candidates there.

His opponents charge that he held discussions with the LTTE not to bring about Tamil unity but to confound TNA’s intention to contest in Colombo.

However, with Mr. Maheswaran entering the fray in the capital, Mr. Mano Ganeshan’s plans to garner the votes of Tamils from the northeast who are resident in Colombo will be foiled, they said.

 

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