Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan, Chief Minister of the Eastern Provincial Council, is under JVP fire after he criticized the candidature of General (Rtd) Sarath Fonseka, the Opposition candidate at the forthcoming presidential election.
Contrary to expectations of the Opposition, Chandrakanthan aka Pilleyan has not thrown his weight behind the former Army Chief s campaign though at one time he had indicated a desire to go against the incumbent president.
Sources said that recent JVP criticism of India was evidence that it felt India was biased towards the Rajapaksa government.
Political sources told The Island that had Pilleyan switched allegiance to the Opposition, the Rajapaksa campaign in the Eastern Province, particularly in the Batticaloa District could have been affected.
Chandrakanthan recently told a public function in the Batticaloa District that a man who had served the army for 40 years could not be trusted to serve the people in a civilian capacity. Referring to the problems encountered by him due to presence of retired military officers in the Eastern PC administration, he ruled out the possibility of him being part of the UNP-JVP combine.
Anura Kumara Dissanayake, MP and a spokesman for Fonseka said that Pilleyan was responsible for a spate of high profile LTTE attacks, including the suicide bombing of Dalada Maligawa and the massacre of unarmed policemen whereas Fonseka had served the army. He said that the government should be ashamed to protect the likes of Pilleyan and Karuna, now a Minister appointed on the UPFA National List.
Sources said that the Opposition believed that the growing enmity between Pilleyan and Karuna could have been exploited to its advantage. Responding to The Island queries, sources said that their dispute should not be at the expense of incumbent President Rajapaksa s re-election bid. Sources said that a rift among the UPFA group in control of the Eastern PC would have not only undermined the Eastern campaign but UPFA s northern strategy as well.
The President recently strengthened his campaign in the East by bringing in former UNP National List MP Ali Zaheer Moulana, a close associate of Karuna who had earned the wrath of the LTTE by helping the former LTTE commander to escape LTTE assassins several years ago.