Sangaree seeks role for Tamil parties not represented in parliament

Reconciliation process:

Alleges successive governments ignored him


By Shamindra Ferdinando

TULF General Secretary V. Anandasangaree yesterday urged the Maithripala Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government to accommodate even those political parties not represented in current parliament in proposed negotiations aimed at solving the national problem.

Anandasangaree said that it would be a grave mistake on the part of the government to accept the four-party Tamil National Alliance (TNA) as the sole representative of the Tamil speaking people.

Such a course of action would deprive other Tamil political parties of an opportunity to join the negotiating process, the veteran politician said, recollecting the past failures experienced by successive governments due to short sighted policies.

Former Vanni district MP emphasised that he expected the government to invite him, too, for proposed talks. When it pointed out that the Tamil electorate had totally rejected his party at the Aug. 17 parliamentary polls, an irate Anandasangaree said that shouldn’t be an excuse to leave them out of forthcoming talks.

The TULF failed to secure at least a single seat at the Aug. 17 polls. Anandasangaree joined the fray in the Colombo District.

Anandasangaree said: "In fact, I have sent a letter to Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe’s Office today, strongly requesting a role for those political parties not in parliament. We are confident that Prime Minister Wickremesinghe will take our concerns into consideration before launching talks."

The former MP said that he wanted to represent the Tamil people and expected no position.

The TNA won 16 seats, including two National List slots at the August 17 poll.

Anandasangaree lamented that the government had conveniently forgotten the circumstances leading to formation of the TNA at the expense of the TULF. Anandasangaree acknowledged that the TULF, too, had been a constituent of the TNA initially though they parted ways as the latter became a cat’s paw of the LTTE.

The veteran politician alleged that the TNA was seeking to crowd out all other Tamil political parties and groups, thereby to ensure an arrangement for itself with the government.

Anandasangaree compared the TNA strategy with that of the LTTE aimed at one-party political system in the Northern and Eastern districts. Responding to a query, Anandasangaree said that the gradual erosion of the TULF began in 2004.

"At the time, the then President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga dissolved parliament in early 2004 to pave the way for general elections in April, the TULF parliamentary group comprised 14 persons. The LTTE intervened on behalf of the TNA to ensure its victory there as quite correctly observed by the EU Election Observation Mission," he said.

Anandasangaree alleged that with the demise of the LTTE, successive governments had embraced the TNA. President Maithripala Sirisena, Premier Wickremesinghe and former President Kumaratunga had visited Kilinochchi this year though none of them invited me, Anandasangaree said bitterly. "I risked my life for the government of Sri Lanka. I was one of the very few Tamils openly critical about the LTTE and resolutely backed the war effort. The TNA did everything possible to undermine the government. But today TNA leaders are the darlings of the government", he lamented.

Anandasangaree said that the Tamil community had to pay a very heavy price for blindly supporting the LTTE. They refused to realise ground realities until it was too late, Anandasangaree said, urging Premier Wickremesinghe to review his policy vis-a-vis Tamil representation in next round of talks. "Premier Wickremesinghe shoudn’t repeat the mistakes of previous leaders. We, who opposed the LTTE being replaced by another group aiming at one-party rule in the Northern and Eastern Provinces."

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