The Sunday Leader

TULF Is Not Selfish – V. Anandasangaree

By Waruni Karunarathne

Leader of the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) V Anandasangaree, who has been critical of the conduct of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), said he has been fighting to get ex-LTTE carders into mainstream politics from earlier days. He said that his party, the TULF, is now comprised of young, energetic, moderate and progressive candidates belonging to three different communities 

Following are excerpts of the interview:

Q. What is the emphasis of your election campaign this time?

A. When it comes to my party, we have assisted candidates belonging to three different communities. The main purpose of aligning with these people is to bring back the much wanted prominent people among the ethnic groups in Sri Lanka. As the forerunner, we have got together a political group comprising young, energetic, moderate and progressive people who will contribute to achieve our ambition of bringing back prominent figures among the communities.  A fine opportunity has come our way to solve problems with the support of most of the political parties that are functioning in this country. However political parties should make their statement very cautiously and after very serious consideration, without rushing to the press with silly statements. Recently, a politician from Kilinochchi made a statement that Prabakaran is his leader. These statements can ruin President Maithripala Sirisena as Mahinda Rajapaksa will use it in his political campaign to his advantage.

 

Q. Former member of the Democratic Party Susil Kindelpitiya, who worked with Sarath Fonseka, has now joined your party. How confident are you that he will be able to secure enough votes to enter parliament?

A. He is a progressive youth. As I explained our party is comprised of young, energetic and progressive people. I want to establish unity among all communities. Once that is established, all the issues will eventually be addressed and we no longer have the need to fight for Tamil rights.

 

Q. During the last presidential election, minority votes played a decisive role. What impact will their votes have, this time?

A. I do not agree. If the TNA remained silent and asked the people to make their own decisions, the Tamil votes would have been the same but the Sinhala votes would have been much higher. The moment they started supporting Sirisena, Sinhala votes went down and they turned in favour of the former President. That is how I look at it. Everyone knows the truth. They are just pretending to the world that the change came because of them. The change happened because 30 to 35 political parties supported the movement. No Tamil person voted because of the TNA.

 

Q. Given that the TNA and the new Tamil Progressive Alliance (TPA) exist to represent the aspirations of Tamils, what difference do you expect to bring about through your political campaign? 

A. I can understand the upcountry Tamils forming an alliance. The TNA started with a resolution accepting the LTTE as the sole representatives of the Tamil people and accepting the LTTE as the national leaders of the Tamils. They have not changed that position. That has been their manifesto. What I want is for them to be sensible. Recently, a group led by Sampanthan went to meet the president and presented  a list of their demands. That is enough to make the fallen man stand up and run. We condemn the foolish manner in which the minority parties are working. In order to be in power, they seek help of the ethnic problem. That is internal thinking. What is the need for a parliamentarian to adorn Prabakaran in speeches he makes. It can only cause more damage.

 

Q. Why not form an alliance with another Tamil political party?

A. I tried to form alliances with various parties. One by one, they  joined other alliances. Upcountry leaders formed their own alliances. One is under Thondaman and another is under Radhakrishna, Mano Ganesan and Digambaran. Douglas Devananda is a person who goes on his own. Based on his activities in the past, forming an alliance with him does not seem welcoming. I can prove that the TNA is selfish. I have made many requests to Sampanthan asking to join hands. Even though I asked him to think about it, he never responded. Sampanthan is bound to act by the advices given by those who are around him. The only reason the LTTE and the TNA have been against me is because they believe that I said I do not accept LTTE as the sole representative of the Tamil people. I did not say that. I said the TULF has accepted the sole representative position of the LTTE only in regard to the peace process and the talks with the Sri Lankan government. Tamil media completely blacked out this statement and claimed that I was opposing LTTE as the sole representative of Tamils.

 

Q. Have you considered facilitating ex-LTTE cadres to join your party and give them access to mainstream politics?

A. Of course. They are the people who have listened to me and come to the democratic path. I have been fighting for that. I have in fact told Prabakaran many times that he would never be able to win that fight and therefore he should come to a settlement and understanding and save these people. At that point, I tried to get the LTTE into mainstream politics. I am prepared to accept them today. The TNA entered parliament with the help of the LTTE by saying that they are the sole representatives of the Tamil people. The resolution passed came in a form of election manifesto at the 2002 elections and with the help of the LTTE they entered parliament. However, after entering parliament, they cut the throat of the LTTE. One or two former LTTE cadres wanted to contest the elections under the TNA ticket to look after the interests of the injured and war affected people but the TNA  refused to give them representation claiming that the cadres were government spies. Ex-LTTE cadres are not government spies. Sampanthan was in the National Executive Council, how come he is not a spy? At the same time, they campaign against the UNP.

 

Q. How many contestants have you fielded to contest the general election?

A. We have fielded about 50 contestants. We are contesting in both the North and the East, in all the electoral districts except for Ampara district. We are also contesting in Colombo.

 

Q.  What is your take on the progress made with reconciliation in the post-war context?

A. There has not been a change of a government as such.  There was only a change in the leadership. The same set of people were there in parliament during the interim period. We cannot expect them to do wonders. Within the 100 days, they did certain things without much protest. When Sampanthan and Senathiraja wanted the Sampur land released, there were people who opposed that. There are a few well respected and honest people including Ven Sobitha Thero, Ven Rathana thero, Chandrika Bandaranaike, Ranil Wickremesinghe and President Sirisena who have repeatedly requested to have faith in them. They have given assurance to solve those problems. Why cannot people trust them for another short period of time to see how they will tackle the issue. The situation still remains favourable.

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