We represent progressive patriotic Tamils- Mano
Interview with leader of Democratic People's Front (DPF) and Tamil
Progressive Alliance (TPA) Mano Ganesan on their forthcoming general
election polls campaign.
Q: Why did you decide to contest under the UNP led coalition?
Wouldn't it have been better to contest alone?
A: We are adding a progressive patriotic Tamil dimension to
this United National Front for Good Governance (UNFGG).
The JHU is adding the patriotic Sinhala-Buddhist flavour. We have the
Muslim representation through SLMC and ACPC. The progressive faction of
the SLFP, that stands with the January 8 mandate is also within.
This is the Grand Alliance that has accommodated all shades of
democratic political opinions and ethnic representations that makes Sri
Lanka. Naturally, the UNP is the prime party in UNFGG.
Our undisputed prime ministerial candidate is Ranil Wickremesinghe.
The UPFA is full of racists and fundamentalists. In recent history the
country had never witnessed such low levels of democracy, national
unity, rule of law, social justice, national economy and world esteem as
during the UPFA rule. Therefore, we decided to get onto the national
progressive and patriotic bandwagon.
Q: What are the seats TPA will be contesting? Have you asked
for national seats?
A: We are contesting in Nuwara-Eliya, Colombo, Kandy, Badulla,
Ratnapura and Gampaha Districts. We had also wanted to contest in
Kegalle, Matale and Putttalam Districts.
But the negotiations did not succeed. We will field two candidates in
Colombo, three in Nuwara-Eliya, one each in Kandy, Badulla, Ratnapura
and Gampaha. Yes, we are listed in the national list too.
Q: What is the understanding between you and your coalition
partners in the TPA - with Palani Digambaram's party and
V.Radhakrishnan's party. How would you share seats?
A: The MoU that formalized the relations between the DPF, led
by me, NUW led by minister Palani Digambaram and UPF led by state
minister V. Radhakrishnan, and formed the TPA, looks beyond the general
Elections are only one aspect between us. As the leader of TPA, I
have already at numerous occasions very clearly stated that TPA will go
on record as a political power bloc that represents the 1.5 million
strong Tamil community that is living outside North and Eeastern
Seat sharing is no issue. DPF is contesting in Colombo, Kandy,
Gampaha and Ratnapura by fielding five candidates. NUW is fielding two
in Nuwara-Eliya. UPF is fielding one each in Nuwara-Eliya and Badulla.
Q: Where will you start the campaign and what is your main
thrust in this election?
A: We are already in the campaign. We seek recognition of the
TPA as representing the Tamils living outside North and East. Our
manifesto will be released early August.
Q: The TNA and other Tamil parties will contest Colombo and Up
Country seats. TNA said that they will seek your permission to contest.
Have you reached any understanding on this?
A: TNA doesn't need our permission to contest outside North
and East. Nor does TPA need permission to go to the North and East. It
is just goodwill.
DPF has long standing relations with TNA in seeking reasonable
solutions to Tamils' issues within an undivided Sri Lanka.
All segments of the Tamil community in the Western Province are with
me and my party, the DPF.
My people are aware that I stood by them during the most difficult
times. I neither collaborated with the tyrannizing regime nor ran away.
Q: What is your slogan for this election? In the past CWC has
featured strongest among plantation community voters. How do you plan to
overcome this challenge in the upcoming polls?
A: It is the simple slogan - "Our vote is our strength." Now
the war is over. We have the opportunity to highlight the significance
of the ballot.
Plantation workers are the most underdeveloped segment in this
country. But they number only 250,000 and are only about 16% of the
total numbers our party tend to represent. We will strive to improve
their living conditions.
We have issues with only the current leadership of CWC. We will
liberate the plantation community from the clutches of this reactionary
Q: Up country people still have many woes - education, health,
sanitation to name a few. But the most burning one is the housing issue.
Do you offer a solution for this?
A: The 100-day program of our government has credibly started
addressing these issues.
Minister Lakshman Kiriella submitted two Cabinet papers, one on
housing land issue and the other on the long pending EPF/ETF issue. Both
have been agreed unanimously at the Cabinet.
TPA Deputy Leader Palani Digambaram is the Minister of Estate
He has already started building houses on released lands. The other
deputy leader of TPA, Minister Radhakrishnan is overseeing the education