SLMC plays kingmaker
The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) has become the most sought after political party at the forthcoming Eastern Provincial Council elections being approached by both the government and the Tamil National Alliance. However, the SLMC has so far stuck to its guns laying down rigid conditions before signing an MOU with either party.Party’s General Secretary and parliamentarian M.T.Hassan Ali told The Nation yesterday that both government representatives and the TNA met their leader Justice Minister Rauf Hakeem but the party was yet to get any concrete response to its conditions.Implementation of the LLRC recommendations viz-a-viz the Muslims of this country, implementation of the 13th Amendment especially on Police and land matters, powers vested with the Chief Minister were some of the conditions being drafted in the proposed MoU and would be discussed with government representatives next week, Hassan Ali said.A TNA delegation had met the SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem at the parliamentary complex last week but neither party arrived at any conclusion. “We are still open for discussion and if we fail to reach any finality we would go it solo,” a TNA source said.“Any MOU with the government should be in writing. We gave unconditional support to the government. However, at this stage when the Muslim aspirations are at its height we don’t want to give any unconditional support. If we do that only, the SLMC will remain with the government but not the Muslim people,” the SLMC General Secretary further said.Asked what alternative the party had in the event of failing to sign and MOU either with the government or the TNA, Hassan Ali said that they would go it alone and was confident of victory. However, finality on this issue would be reached when the SLMC high command meets next week.Meanwhile, political sources akin to election time horse-trading said the SLMC’s stand has sent shock waves within government ranks. The UNP which contested the last EPC elections in alliance with the SLMC has so far not made any attempt to contact the Muslim party.Political observers predict that the TNA might have an edge over SLMC and the government in Batticaloa while in Ampara the SLMC’s chances look bright. In Trincomalee, the government looks well past the post ahead of the other two parties. Unless some sort of understanding is reached between two of these three parties it would be photo-finish, political observers further predict.