By Shamindra Ferdinando
TULF General Secretary V. Anandasangaree yesterday said that the August 17 general election would give the electorate an opportunity to choose those who could strengthen the post-war national reconciliation.
Colombo District TULF candidate Anandasangaree said that TULF was in the fray in Colombo, Northern Province and Eastern electoral districts, except Digamadulla.
Responding to a query by The Island, the veteran politician said that a sizeable vote for the TULF in Colombo would greatly strengthen his efforts to restore genuine peace and national reconciliation. Anandasangaree said that the country was at a crossroads with two major coalitions vying for control.
With the parliamentary polls just less than a week away, Tamil speaking people wherever they lived should examine ground realities, Anandasangaree said.
Strongly condemning attempts to whip up ethnic sentiments, Anandasangaree said that major political parties should reach a consensus on devolution on the basis of the Indian model.
Asked whether the four-party Tamil National Alliance (TNA) would accept the Indian model, Anandasangaree said that the coalition supported the idea at the presidential election in January 2010. However, the TNA had called for a federal set-up in a re-merged North-Eastern Province in the run-up to the next week’s poll, Anandasangaree said.
The TULF great said: “I supported Sri Lanka’s fight against fascism at the risk of my life. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people have conveniently forgotten the leadership given by me during an extremely difficult period.”
Asked whether he would take up his longstanding proposal for a solution on the basis of the Indian model, Anandasangaree said that the TULF would be able to make an impressive case on behalf of the Tamil speaking people if the party obtained several seats.
He said that those living in the Northern and Eastern Provinces were free to exercise their franchise in support of the TULF which believed in a genuine transformation of Tamil politics. “People have the freedom to choose a political party pushing for reforms or one hell-bent on pursuing an agenda of its own.”
Anandasangaree strongly criticised a section of the media for depriving him of the required support to educate the electorate.
Six years after the conclusion of the war and eight months since the last presidential election, the electorate had been given an opportunity to elect a new government meant to address the national issue, Anandasangaree said.
The Tamils shouldn’t squander the opportunity to elect a set of Tamil members of parliament who would strive to reach an understanding with the government with the support of India, he said. Those who feared the break-up of Sri Lanka on ethnic lines in case the government gave in to a federal structure wouldn’t oppose an Indian model, the TULF General Secretary said, adding that they wouldn’t get another opportunity.
Anandasangaree pointed out that the TNA declined to accommodate ex-LTTE cadres on its nominations lists, whereas he offered to place them. However, ex-LTTE group fielded two independent groups in the Jaffna electoral district as well as Vanni, Anandasangaree said, urging the Tamil electorate to change its mind-set.
The Tamil Diaspora, too, could play a positive role in helping the country to move forward, though at the moment their role was inimical to reconciliation efforts. The Geneva issue was exploited by interested parties to drive a wedge between the government and Tamil speaking people, he said, pleading with the electorate not to strengthen the hands of the hardliners.
Anandasangaree recollected how those bent on an outright military victory thwarted Tamils from voting for UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe at the Nov 2005 presidential election. “They facilitated Mahinda Rajapaksa’s victory. Within weeks resumed claymore mine attacks leading to all-out war in Aug 2006. The rest is history.”