EPDP: The counterpoint to TNA- Douglas
Leader of the Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP), former Minister
Douglas Devananda says that his party has decided to go solo at the
forthcoming general election, without contesting the election under UPFA
as done earlier.
Claiming that there are a number of outstanding issues affecting the
people in the North and East, Devananda said that the party would remain
committed to working for the people's welfare.
The Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP) is a North-based political
party with strong leanings towards India. Founded by its current head
and former minister Douglas Devananda, himself a former paramilitary who
was propelled into revolutionary Tamil politics through the Eelam
Revolutionary Organization of Students (EROS), the EPDP has been
consorting with the UPFA Government, until its January 8 defeat. Ready
to go solo for the first time in 20 years, its leader Douglas Devananda
claims that this election will offer a new opportunity for the EPDP to
build its relationship with the people of the North who want to find a
political entity that can be the alternate voice to the Tamil National
Q: The EPDP has decided to contest the forthcoming general
election as a single party? Why?
A: It is a response to a request by the electorate.
Previously, we contested the election under the betel leaf symbol of the
UPFA. People now want us to contest as an independent political party
without forming any alliance with southern political parties.
Q: Why have people made such a request?
A: People make different demands at different times. When we
contest in alliance with other political parties, voters are unable to
make an independent decision on our stance/s because they are mixed with
other political views.
In the North and East, the TNA has the largest representation in the
parliament. But we have policies diametrically opposite to the TNA.
Therefore, people want us to contest as a single political party,
enabling the Tamil people to vote for us and balance the TNA's electoral
influence in the North and East.
Q: What are the main differences between the EPDP and the TNA
A: The TNA's approach to the ethnic issue is different to that
of the EPDP.
We stand for a negotiated settlement based on the 13th Amendment to
We always like to join hands with the Government to settle these
issues. But the TNA doesn't have a firm policy on this issue.
They change their stance from time to time. So many people like to
work with the EPDP and have this question addressed. Through us, they
will get an opportunity. This is why we contest as a single party.
Q: To which alliance will you lean towards after the election?
A: We have to wait and see as to which party we should support
in the future. At present, we have not taken any decision regarding
that. But, in about two weeks, we may be able to say clearly whose
polices we like the most and find common ground with.
Q: Are you having any electoral agreement with a political
A: We have not reached any electoral agreement with any
political party. We are contesting the general election as a single
Q: What sort of political campaign will you be carrying out in
the North and the East?
A: We will take the message to the people as to how we propose
a final solution to the many issues affecting them. In the past few
years, we did our best to solve those issues and we did not have enough
support. If people support us at this election, we will make our best
effort to solve the issues they are confronted with.
Q: What are the key issues?
A: In the North, the major issue is lands. Then there are
missing people, political prisoners and the absence of a lasting
political solution to the North East question. We are trying our best to
address these issues through a new mandate we hope to gain on August 17.
Q: You were a Minister in the UPFA Government. Why couldn't
you solve these problems during all those years?
A: We did our best to solve them. As the EPDP, we are trying
our best to address those issues. The TNA had different approach to the
same issues and we have a different approach. I think our approach is
more practical than the TNA's approach. We believe in a give and take
policy and preventing further loss of lives and colossal damage to
property. But we need the support of the people.
Q: Does the EPDP work harmoniously with the Northern
A: There is no co-operation. There is also not a truly
functional northern provincial administration. They earlier said, they
could not perform due to the former Governor and the Chief Secretary.
With the change of the Government, a new Governor and a Secretary were
appointed but the situation remains the same. The NPC is quite
Q: People in the North voted for Maithripala Sirisena at the
January 8 presidential election. Do you think they have benefitted from
A: For the people to benefit, the TNA should take their
problems to the Government and demand solutions. But that has not
happened. So people could not derive any benefit and the support of the
new president. People are unhappy with the TNA this time. People want
real answers and real action, not words.
Q: Whatever you may say, people continue to place their trust
in the TNA. Do you think there will be a change in that pattern this
A: Now there is a change. People are unhappy as the TNA has ne
genuine interest in solving the problem s of the average citizens.
Q: In which districts will the EPDP field candidates this
A: We are contesting all five districts in the North and East.
Q: Are you confident that your candidates are the most
suitable for northern politics?
A: They are living with the people. They are people who
understand the citizens' pulse.
Q: How many female candidates are contesting from the EPDP?
A: One from the North and four from the Eastern Province.
Q: How many seats are you hoping to secure this time?
A: We hope to get at least five seats this time.