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Features“TNA is the Only Party Fighting for the Rights of the Tamil People – Suresh

“TNA is the Only Party Fighting for the Rights of the Tamil People – Suresh

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15-2-LBefore contesting the election, Mahinda Rajapaksa needs to prove that he and his family are not corrupt, notes Tamil National Alliance strongman Suresh Premechandran.

“If he (Rajapaksa) comes to power, he will safeguard his entire family and protect them from all the allegations against them,” Premechandran said, adding, “We supported Sinhalese people to bring a change in the government. Now it is up to the Sinhalese people to decide whom they want to rule the country.”
Following are excerpts:

Q: What are your plans for the upcoming election?

A: We will be conducting the election mainly in the north east. We are having a meeting to discuss whether our party will contest in other parts such as Colombo and other areas. So far we have not taken a decision on that matter. Otherwise the TNA will contest in all the districts in the north and east.

Q: Other than Colombo, what are the other areas TNA is hoping to contest?

A: We have not taken a decision on that yet. When we meet we will discuss further and take a decision on this matter. Most probably we will be contesting in Colombo. But I am not sure about it. There are various views on that matter. So we will be finalising the matter at the discussion.

Q: Who is taking part in this discussion?

A: The party leadership.

Q: Will you be allying with any other parties?

A: No there will be no coalitions. The TNA will be contesting alone.

Q: Why would people elect the TNA to Parliament?

A: The TNA is the only party fighting for the rights of the Tamil people. From the beginning we have being trying to resolve the Tamil national problem. We strongly believe there should be a political solution to the problem. Apart from that there are thousands of people who need to be resettled in their lands. Those lands are occupied by the Army. And definitely there are several thousand people who are still missing. There must be a proper solution to that problem too. Then there is the issue of political prisoners.

There are several issues; the TNA is trying its level best to resolve all these issues. These are the important problems Tamils are facing apart from the development matters. Of course for a long period Tamils have been facing development issues. Rural roads need to be developed. We have been raising these issues for a very long period. Development activities need to take place in those areas. As I said earlier, as Tamils the most important thing is resolving these matters.

Q: The TNA has been in power in the Northern Province for the last two years, but nothing has been done for the betterment of the Tamils in those areas. Do you agree?

A: The Northern Provincial Council is a new provincial council. They are totally depending on the grant given by the Government. They don’t collect any tax. They are not having their own budget. What they are doing is just passing resolutions on how to implement that grant given by the Government. The majority of the grant is recurrent expenditure and the capital expenditure is a very small amount. It is only now they have passed one or two finances. Of course in future they are preparing to collect tax and things like that. But they do not have enough powers to collect taxes.

The Northern Provincial Council is not like the Western Provincial Council. And this is a new council. That is the reason why they could not do many things. But anyway I agree that the council could have taken many more steps towards this. I think they have to accelerate activities. I hope at least in the next two years they will do something better.

Q: Are you saying Chief Minister Wigneswaran could do better in the Northern Provincial Council?

A: Yes. At least in the future Wigneswaran and his team could do better. But as I told you, they were having some problems. Since they have two years of experience, I hope at least in rest of the coming years they will accelerate their activities and try to do better.

Q: How many seats are you expecting?

A: The TNA expects 18 to 19 seats in the north and east.

Q: If former LTTE cadres want to contest from the TNA, will you accept them?

A: Once they come into democratic mainstream, there is no problem about what they have done in the past. Of course if the LTTE is coming forward to join the democratic mainstream, they will be welcomed. I don’t see them as terrorists. They are the people who fought for a just cause. They have gone through the rehabilitation process. They have surrendered their weapons. If they want to be in democratic mainstream, that has to be appreciated and welcomed. I think if any former LTTE cadre wants to contest from our party, the TNA should appreciate that move.

• “The TNA is the only party fighting for the rights of the Tamil people. From the beginning we have being trying to resolve the Tamil national problem. We strongly believe there should be a political solution to the problem
• I hope after the election this political deadlock will be broken. The current situation is not healthy for the country. The former President too will be contesting the election. This move will create problems, especially in the south. May be we will 15-INhave a stable government. We have to wait and see what sort of a government the Sinhalese people will vote for
• In this country everybody has a democratic right to contest in an election. The former President served as a Member of Parliament for a long period of time. He was a Minister, then he became the Prime Minister, he was the President of this country for two terms, and then he lost the election. All the people defeated him… If he is clean and his family is clean of all the allegations, nobody can object to the former President coming back to politics”

Q: What are your views on the current political situation in the country?

A: I hope after the election this political deadlock will be broken. The current situation is not healthy for the country. The former President too will be contesting the election. This move will create problems, especially in the south. Maybe we will have a stable government. We have to wait and see what sort of a government the Sinhalese people will vote for. We supported the Sinhalese people to bring a change in the government. Because of that there was a change in the regime. Now it is up to the Sinhalese people to decide whom they want to rule the country; whom they want in Parliament. If they don’t want a change, they will work according to that. If they want the change to continue, they will play the role according to that.

Q: If invited, will you support a coalition government?

A: This will be decided only after the election. Now there is a so-called National Government. The Prime Minister belongs to the UNP, the President belongs to the SLFP. Even after the election this might continue. In that situation, they may not need our support. But if they need our support, definitely we will think about it. That all depends on how they are going to resolve the national problem.

Q: What is the TNA’s stand about former President Mahinda Rajapaksa contesting at the upcoming election?

A: In this country everybody has a democratic right to contest in an election. The former President served as a Member of Parliament for a long period of time. He was a Minister, then he became the Prime Minister, he was the President of this country for two terms, and then he lost the election. All the people defeated him. Now there various allegations against his entire family; against his wife, against his sons and against his siblings. Actually before coming into politics he needs to prove he is a not corrupt politician. If he comes to power he will safeguard his entire family and protect them from all the allegations against them. Therefore, before contesting the election he needs to prove that he and his family are not corrupt. That is the most important thing. If he is clean and his family is clean of all the allegations, nobody can object to the former President coming back to politics.
FT

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