National Congress (Sri Lanka)

National Congress
தேசிய காங்கிரஸ்
ජාතික කොංග්රසය
Leader A. L. M. Athaullah
Secretary-General A. L. M. Athaullah
Founder A. L. M. Athaullah
Founded February 2004 (2004-02)
Split from Sri Lanka Muslim Congress
National affiliation United People's Freedom Alliance
0 / 225
Provincial Councils
3 / 455
Election symbol

The National Congress (Tamil: தேசிய காங்கிரஸ் Tēciya Kāṅkiras) is a registered political party in Sri Lanka.[1][2] It was founded in 2004 by A. L. M. Athaullah.[1] The National Congress is a member of the United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA).[3]


Following the death of M. H. M. Ashraff, the leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), in September 2000 there was a power struggle between Ashraff's widow Ferial Ashraff and Rauff Hakeem for control of the party.[4] In June 2001 Hakeem, A. L. M. Athaullah and some other SLMC MPs left the governing People's Alliance (PA).[4][5][6] Ferial Ashraff remained in the PA as leader of the National Unity Alliance.[4]

In October 2001 the Hakeem led SLMC joined the United National Party dominated United National Front (UNF).[7] The UNF defeated the PA at the 2001 parliamentary election after which Hakeem was appointed a cabinet minister in the UNF government.[4][8] Athaullah was only given a non-cabinet ministerial position.[8] This caused jealousy amongst Athaullah and other SLMC members who accused Hakeem of monopolising cabinet ministerial positions for himself.[4] Another leadership battle emerged in the SLMC, this time between Hakeem and Athaullah. In December 2002 Hakeem suspended Athaullah who was chairman of the SLMC.[9] A legal battle ensued after which Athaullah and his supporters were expelled from the SLMC.[10][11][12]

Athaullah and his supporters launched the Ashraff Congress political party on 25 February 2003.[13][14][15] In February 2004 Athaullah and some others left the Ashraff Congress to form the National Muslim Congress (NMC) which became a constituent member of the newly formed UPFA, the successor to the PA.[16][17][18][19]

The NMC contested the 2004 parliamentary election on the UPFA ticket, winning two seats in Parliament - Athaullah in Ampara District and M. I. Anwer Ismail on the National List.[1] Athaullah was made a cabinet minister in the new UPFA government whilst Ismail became a deputy minister.[20][21][22] The NMC changed its name to National Congress (NC) in September 2005.[23] Following the death of Ismail in September 2007 the NC was reduced to a single MP.[24] Athaullah retained his parliamentary seat and cabinet position at the 2010 parliamentary election.[1] The NC won three seats on the Eastern Provincial Council at the 2012 provincial council election.[25] At the 2015 presidential election, whilst other Muslim political parties flocked to support common opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena, the NC remained loyal to President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Following Sirisena's victory Athaullah lost his ministerial position.


  1. 1 2 3 4 Lansford, Tom, ed. (2014). "Sri Lanka". Political Handbook of the World 2014. Sage Publications. p. 1352. ISBN 978-1-4833-3328-1.
  2. "List of recognized political parties" (PDF). Department of Elections, Sri Lanka. 6 July 2015.
  3. Nathan, S. G. (2 April 2014). "Athaullah re-elected head of Nat. Congress". Ceylon Today.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 Farook, Latheef (23 December 2014). "SLMC: Liability on the Muslim community". Daily FT.
  5. Satyapalan, Franklin R. (21 June 2001). "SLMC-NUA quit PA coalition". The Island (Sri Lanka).
  6. "Sri Lanka govt. faces collapse as Muslims leave". TamilNet. 20 June 2001.
  7. "UNP to contest as UNF with elephant symbol". TamilNet. 21 October 2001.
  8. 1 2 "New Ministers". Daily News (Sri Lanka). 13 December 2001.
  9. "Hakeem suspends SLMC Chairman, General Secretary". TamilNet. 1 December 2002.
  10. "Court restrains Hakim functioning as SLMC leader". TamilNet. 3 December 2002.
  11. "Courts allows Hakeem to function as SLMC leader". TamilNet. 5 December 2002.
  12. "Athaullah group expelled, Hakim leadership strengthened". TamilNet. 9 December 2002.
  13. "Ashraff Congress comes into being". The Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka). 27 February 2003.
  14. Silva, Rashomi (5 March 2003). "Ashraff Congress established". Daily News (Sri Lanka).
  15. Satyapalan, Franklin R. (6 March 2003). "Ashraff Congress to carry forward ideals of late leader - Dr. Hafrath". The Island (Sri Lanka).
  16. Jeyaraj, D. B. S. (29 February 2004). "Hakeem fights last-ditch battle in Amparai". The Sunday Leader.
  17. "Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga is the only President who has honoured the Muslims - Athaulla". Daily News (Sri Lanka). 2 March 2004.
  18. Wijedasa, Namini; Satyapalan, Franklin (22 February 2004). "SLMC breakaway Athaulla with 3 MPs join PA". The Island (Sri Lanka).
  19. "SLMC Athaullah faction joins SLFP-JVP alliance". TamilNet. 20 February 2004.
  20. "32 member UPFA Cabinet to be sworn in on Saturday". TamilNet. 8 April 2004.
  21. "The new UPFA Cabinet". The Sunday Times (Sri Lanka). 11 April 2004.
  22. "The New Cabinet". The Island (Sri Lanka). 29 January 2007.
  23. "NMC changes name". Sunday Observer (Sri Lanka). 25 September 2005.
  24. Kaleel, M. A. (15 September 2007). "Anwer Ismail dead". The Island (Sri Lanka).
  25. Jeyaraj, D. B. S. (22 September 2012). "Najeeb Abdul Majeed Makes History as The First Muslim CM of Sri Lanka". The Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka).
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