R. Sampanthan

Rajavarothiam Sampanthan (Tamil: இராஜவரோதயம் சம்பந்தன்; Sinhala: රාජවරෝදියම් සම්බන්දන්; born 5 February 1933) is a Sri Lankan Tamil politician and lawyer who has led the Tamil National Alliance since 2001. He has also been a Member of Parliament since 2001, and previously served as a Member of Parliament from 1977 to 1983 and from 1997 to 2000. He was the Leader of the Opposition from September 2015 to December 2018.[1][2]

R. Sampanthan

இரா. சம்பந்தன்
ආර්. සම්බන්ධන්
R. Sampanthan.jpg
Sampanthan in November 2013
16th Leader of the Opposition
In office
3 September 2015 – 18 December 2018
PresidentMaithripala Sirisena
Prime MinisterRanil Wickremesinghe
Preceded byNimal Siripala De Silva
Succeeded byMahinda Rajapaksa
Leader of the Tamil National Alliance
Assumed office
Member of the Sri Lankan Parliament
for Trincomalee District
Assumed office
5 December 2001
In office
1997 – 18 August 2000
Preceded byArunasalam Thangathurai
Member of the Sri Lankan Parliament
for Trincomalee
In office
21 July 1977 – 7 September 1983
Preceded byB. Neminathan
Personal details
Born (1933-02-05) 5 February 1933 (age 87)
NationalitySri Lankan
Political partyIllankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi
Other political
Tamil National Alliance
Alma materCeylon Law College
EthnicitySri Lankan Tamil

Early life and familyEdit

Sampanthan was born 5 February 1933.[3][4] He is the son of A. Rajavarothiam, Superintendent of Stores at the Gal Oya Project.[4] Sampanthan is related to S. Sivapalan and N. R. Rajavarothiam both of whom were MPs for Trincomalee.[5] He was educated at St. Patrick's College, Jaffna, St. Anne's College, Kurunegala, St. Joseph's College, Trincomalee and St. Sebastian's College, Moratuwa.[4][5] After school he joined Ceylon Law College, graduating as an attorney at law.[4][5]

Sampanthan married Leeladevi, daughter of P. K. Rudra.[4] They have two sons (Sanjeevan and Senthuran) and one daughter (Krishanthini).[4]


U. S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets Sampanthan in May 2015.

After qualifying Sampanthan practised law in Trincomalee.[5]

Sampanthan joined the Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi's (Federal Party) in 1956.[3][4] ITAK leader S. J. V. Chelvanayakam offered Sampanthan nomination in 1963 and 1970 but Sampanthan declined.[5]

On 14 May 1972 the ITAK, All Ceylon Tamil Congress (ACTC), Ceylon Workers' Congress, Eelath Thamilar Otrumai Munnani and All Ceylon Tamil Conference formed the Tamil United Front, later renamed Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF).[6][7][8][9] Sampanthan was the TULF's candidate in Trincomalee at the 1977 parliamentary election. He won the election and entered Parliament.[10] Sampanthan and all other TULF MPs boycotted Parliament from the middle of 1983 for a number of reasons: they were under pressure from Sri Lankan Tamil militants not to stay in Parliament beyond their normal six-year term; the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka required them to swear an oath unconditionally renouncing support for a separate state; and the Black July riots in which up to 3,000 Tamils were killed by Sinhalese mobs. After three months of absence, Sampanthan forfeited his seat in Parliament on 7 September 1983.[11] Sampanthan served as joint treasurer, vice president and general secretary of TULF.[3]

Sampanthan was one of the ENDLF/EPRLF/TELO/TULF alliance's candidates in Trincomalee District at the 1989 parliamentary election but the alliance failed to win any seats in the district.[12][13] He was one of the TULF's candidates in Trincomalee District at the 1994 parliamentary election but failed to get re-elected after coming second amongst the TULF candidates.[14] However, he re-entered Parliament in 1997 following the assassination of A. Thangathurai on 5 July 1997.[15][16] He was one of the TULF's candidates in Trincomalee District at the 2000 parliamentary election but the TULF failed to win any seats in the district.[17][18][19]

On 20 October 2001 the ACTC, Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front, Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization and TULF formed the Tamil National Alliance (TNA).[20][21] Sampanthan became the leader of the TNA. Sampanthan contested the 2001 parliamentary election as one of the TNA's candidates in Trincomalee District. He was elected and re-entered Parliament.[22]

Soon after its formation the TNA began to make a more pro-Tamil Tiger stance, recognising the Tigers as the sole representative of the Sri Lankan Tamils. This caused a split within the TULF. Some members of the TULF, led by its president V. Anandasangaree, were opposed to the Tigers. Anandasangaree refused to allow the TNA to use the TULF name during the 2004 parliamentary election.[23] This caused the members of TULF who wished to remain with the TNA, led by Sampanthan, to resurrect the Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi political party.[24] Sampanthan became the leader of ITAK.[25][26]

Sampanthan was re-elected in the 2004, 2010 and 2015 parliamentary elections.[27][28][29][30][31] The Speaker of the Parliament recognised Sampanthan as Leader of the Opposition on 3 September 2015.[32][33][34] During the 2015 Sri Lankan presidential election, the TNA, under his leadership, decided to back Maithripala Sirisena as the common opposition candidate.[35] Sirisena went on to win the election and became the president replacing the incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Electoral historyEdit

Electoral history of R. Sampanthan
Election Constituency Party Votes Result
1977 parliamentary[10] Trincomalee TULF 15,144 Elected
1989 parliamentary[13] Trincomalee District TULF 6,048 Not elected
1994 parliamentary[36] Trincomalee District TULF 19,525 Not elected
2000 parliamentary Trincomalee District TULF Not elected
2001 parliamentary[22] Trincomalee District TNA 40,110 Elected
2004 parliamentary[27] Trincomalee District TNA 47,735 Elected
2010 parliamentary[28] Trincomalee District TNA 24,488 Elected
2015 parliamentary[37] Trincomalee District TNA 33,834 Elected


  1. ^ "Sampanthan Chosen As New Leader Of The Opposition". Colombo Telegraph. 3 September 2015. Retrieved 3 September 2015.
  2. ^ "Ethnic Tamil lawmaker becomes opposition leader in Sri Lanka for first time in decades". Fox News. 3 September 2015. Retrieved 3 September 2015.
  3. ^ a b c "Directory of Members: Rajavarothiam Sampanthan". Parliament of Sri Lanka.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Arumugam, S. (1997). Dictionary of Biography of the Tamils of Ceylon (PDF). pp. 173–174.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Who is Rajavarothayam Sampanthan". Sunday Observer (Sri Lanka). 29 June 2008.
  6. ^ Ross, Russell R.; Savada, Andrea Matles, eds. (1990). Sri Lanka : A Country Study (PDF). Library of Congress. p. 51.
  7. ^ Chattopadhyaya, Haraprasad (1994). Ethnic Unrest in Modern Sri Lanka: An Account of Tamil-Sinhalese Race Relations. M. D. Publications. p. 33. ISBN 81-85880-52-2.
  8. ^ Amarasinghe, Samanga (2011). Independence to Referendum. Lulu Enterprises. p. 188. ISBN 978-1-105-01908-1.
  9. ^ Rajasingham, K. T. "Chapter 23: Srimavo's constitutional promiscuity". Sri Lanka: The Untold Story.
  10. ^ a b "Result of Parliamentary General Election 1977" (PDF). Department of Elections, Sri Lanka. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-17.
  11. ^ Wickramasinghe, Wimal (18 January 2008). "Saga of crossovers, expulsions and resignations etc. Referendum for extention [sic] of Parliament". The Island (Sri Lanka).
  12. ^ "Result of Parliamentary General Election 1989" (PDF). Department of Elections, Sri Lanka. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-03-04.
  13. ^ a b de Silva, W. P. P.; Ferdinando, T. C. L. 9th Parliament of Sri Lanka (PDF). Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited. p. 182. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-06-23.
  14. ^ "Trinco awaits nomination". The Sunday Times (Sri Lanka). 24 August 1997.
  15. ^ "TNA's Sampanthan is 2nd Tamil to be Leader of Opposition". Ceylon Today. Press Association. 4 September 2015. p. A4.
  16. ^ Ramakrishnan, T. (3 September 2015). "TNA's Sampanthan becomes opposition leader in Sri Lankan parliament". The Hindu.
  17. ^ Ferdinando, Shamindra (8 October 2000). "Sampanthan asks police to probe Mahindapura massacre". The Island (Sri Lanka).
  18. ^ "TULF candidates for Trincomalee decided". TamilNet. 27 August 2000.
  19. ^ "Parliamentary General Election 10.10.2000 - Trincomalee District". Department of Elections, Sri Lanka. Archived from the original on 2012-08-05.
  20. ^ Jeyaraj, D. B. S. "Tamil National Alliance enters critical third phase - 1". The Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka). Archived from the original on 4 April 2010.
  21. ^ "Tamil parties sign MOU". TamilNet. 20 October 2001.
  22. ^ a b "General Election 2001 Preferences" (PDF). Department of Elections, Sri Lanka. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-09-24.
  23. ^ "Objection against TNA using HOUSE symbol rejected". TamilNet. 28 February 2004. Retrieved 28 February 2010.
  24. ^ Jeyaraj, D. B. S. (18 May 2013). "Tamil National Alliance Faces Acute Political Crisis". The Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka).
  25. ^ "Mavai elected as ITAK's new leader". The Sunday Times (Sri Lanka). 7 September 2014.
  26. ^ "Mavai replaces Sampanthan as ITAK leader". Tamil Guardian. 6 September 2014.
  27. ^ a b "General Election 2004 Preferences" (PDF). Department of Elections, Sri Lanka. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-03-04.
  28. ^ a b "Parliamentary General Election - 2010 Trincomalee Preferences" (PDF). Department of Elections, Sri Lanka. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-05-13.
  29. ^ "PART I : SECTION (I) — GENERAL Government Notifications PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS ACT, No. 1 OF 1981" (PDF). The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka Extraordinary. 1928/03. 19 August 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 September 2015.
  30. ^ "Ranil tops with over 500,000 votes in Colombo". The Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka). 19 August 2015.
  31. ^ "Preferential Votes". Daily News (Sri Lanka). 19 August 2015. Archived from the original on 20 August 2015.
  32. ^ "Sampanthan new opposition leader". The Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka). 3 September 2015.
  33. ^ "R. Sampanthan appointed Opposition Leader". The Nation (Sri Lanka). 3 September 2015.
  34. ^ "Tamil MP Sampanthan to lead Sri Lanka opposition". BBC News. 3 September 2015.
  35. ^ Srinivasan, Meera (2018-01-03). "We can't despair, we can't abandon things, says Sri Lanka's R. Sampanthan". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2019-08-04.
  36. ^ "Sampanthan for Trinco". The Sunday Times (Sri Lanka). 13 July 1997.
  37. ^ Jayakody, Pradeep (28 August 2015). "The Comparison of Preferential Votes in 2015 & 2010". The Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka).

External linksEdit