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Sunday, 19 July 2015

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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.

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 Provinces.

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 group.

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 Infrastructure.

He has already started building houses on released lands. The other deputy leader of TPA, Minister Radhakrishnan is overseeing the education subject.

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