Leader of the Democratic People’s Front (DPF), Mano Ganesan says that the results of the recently held Uva Provincial Council polls came as a shock to the Government. In an interview to The Nation, Ganesan added that his party was in the process of holding discussions with the United National Party (UNP) and opposition parties with regard to forging an alliance for the upcoming Presidential elections and beyond.
Following are excerpts:
Q. You supported the UNP at the recently held Uva Provincial Council elections. Are you happy the way things have turned out for the party?
Yes, my party DPF decided to support UNP at the Uva PC elections. I personally participated in the campaign by addressing meetings in the plantations. We did not field any candidates. This is not new to us. We supported the TNA at the Northern Provincial Council elections. I participated in their campaign at the invitation of TNA. We were at North and Uva at different times as part of the opposition campaign. We are happy on the Uva results. The Opposition, especially the UNP was able to increase its vote base at the expenses of the UPFA. It is boost news.
Q. What does such a boost mean to the party and for the country in general?
I have no illusions. You require Sinhala votes for both to defeat and form a government. All other votes can play other valid roles. Now in Uva, first time in the recent history that Sinhala voter refused to buy the war victory commodity of the UPFA outrightly. Until recently, the regime was able to cover all their sins with the war victory rhetoric. That was not possible this time. It is rather a shock to the regime. A senior minister who said that they are not taking the UNP threat lightly is correct. Isn’t it a boost?
Q. You had previously stated that you would back Harin Fernando while also mentioning that you had issues with the UNP leadership. But you later extended your support to the UNP based on a request by the UNP leader. Do you still have differences of opinion with the UNP leadership or have you ironed them out?
I have taken up plenty of challenges and risks in politics and human rights campaign over the years. I always admire those who take up challenges. This young man Harin is one such in recent times. He is a friend of mine too. I thought I should do my best for him. But unfortunately my mother passed away during the elections. So I had to stay away from Badulla, in Colombo for one full week meant for the election campaign. Ranil Wickremesinghe also requested me to participate in the campaign. We have differences of opinion everywhere. We have disagreements with UNP too. It is not rare. But I can’t cut off my nose just because I am upset with my face. Besides, we have to line up the priorities. I am politically matured enough to comprehend the utmost at a given moment.
Q. Does this mean that you would be working with the UNP or join the UNP to form an alliance at the upcoming Presidential elections?
The discussions are going on with UNP and other opposition parties. The subject is presidential elections and beyond. But nothing is finalized. Going on in an alliance with UNP is one option. UNP is the prime opposition party. Therefore, they will have the fat portion of the benefits, if we are to form a government. It is rational. But the alliance tradition is eccentric for some in UNP. But I think they will change. Alliance politics is the Political Mantra of the times. I trust UNP leader and others in the leadership are mindful of this Mantra. At least they should look at President
Mahinda and learn how he runs UPFA, the biggest alliance in the country. If they don’t learn they, will fall and suffer. They will face the fat portion of the sufferings too.
Q. What an alliance you have in mind? Who are the likely members?
To defeat UPFA regime, the Opposition requires a grand alliance. It has to be flexible so that all opposition parties can come in centering on a ‘common minimum program’ (CMP), from UNP to JVP and DP; our party and the followers of CBK and Ven. Sobitha; TNA need to play an associate role; NSSP, USP and NUA. There are some waiting in the ruling alliance too.
Q. What if UNP does not agree to alliance politics al all?
A sweet good bye to UNP because history will say same to UNP.
Q. Did you meet to hold discussions with the UNP leader recently? If so, what did you discuss?
Yes. We discussed politics.
Q. What are your political plans for the future?
I have a privilege. I am the only Tamil party leader who is recognized and listened by the Tamil speaking people in the western, northern, eastern and central regions of the country. Also I am identified by the Sinhalese people. Now, we are the prime party of the Tamil people in the Western Province. We have PC and LG members in the Kandy and Nuwara-Eliya districts too. We are drawing up plans to expand our party to other regions. But take it from me. I wanted to gradually drop the ethnic line. No more Sinhala only, Tamil only, Muslim only journeys and we are left only with the Sri Lankan Journey. I think we live in a ‘smart phone era’ that demands this. I belong to the segment of new blood and new ideas.
Q. In that is the case why can’t you merge your party into a national party such as UNP or SLFP?
National parties? Where are they? I may do that if there are national parties in real sense. We will leave it to the future.
Q. Your brother Praba Ganesan is a deputy minister now. What do you got to say?
This person is nonexistent for me. I can’t waste time talking of him. I can only laugh at the government. In March this year at the western provincial council elections, our party contested independent of both UNP and UPFA and gathered a moderate 51,000 votes while this person’s group, the so-called Colombo district MP’s group, contested in Colombo in an alliance where his chief candidate received just 425 preferential votes. These are facts. I keep laughing at the government’s bankruptcy for accommodating him.
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