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There is no LTTE now, so how can TNA be a

proxy – Sampanthan


Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Leader R. Sampanthan told an interview
with that the TNA was prepared to fully cooperate with the Government
in resolving the Tamil question within a United, Undivided Sri Lanka.
“The TNA is the authentic representative of the Tamil People,” he said.
“Our decision is based upon certain fundamental issues pertaining to the
country as a whole -- issues pertaining to good governance, democracy,
supremacy of Parliament, independent judiciary and civil institutions,
free media, free civil society and preventing a dictatorship.”
Mr. Sampanthan said the LTTE has now been destroyed and in such a
scenario how can the TNA be its proxy. “The TNA has never been an LTTE
proxy,” he said.

QTNA claims MR has failed to address the ethnic issue. However, he has
finished the war. Why do you say he failed to address the ethnic conflict?
Finishing the war does not mean the ethnic conflict is resolved. The war was the
manifestation of the ethnic conflict not having been addressed for a long period of
time. If there was a solution before the war commenced there would not have been a
war. The conclusion of the war in 2009 gave him the opportunity to address the
national question in a meaningful way. TNA was willing to extend its fullest
cooperation to find a solution within a United, Undivided Sri Lanka.

QDon’t you think the Government has tried its level best to address certain
issues? For instance the Yal Devi travelled to Jaffna after 24 years.
The Yal Devi was installed by the Indian Government and not by President Rajapaksa.
It was a development project undertaken by India. This was restored at the expense of
the Indian Government. Operating the Yal Devi does not resolve the Tamil question.
Lots of lands have been grabbed unreasonably and contrary to the undertaking given
to the Supreme Court and in the Parliament.

Q Do you believe the common candidate and his alliance would be
successful in addressing the ethnic conflict and other grievances of the
Tamil community?
He is an experienced politician. He has a pragmatic background. We think that he is a
person who can take the steps largely in the interest of the country. Given Rajapaksa’s
failure to address these issues we are prepared to repose our faith in the common
opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena.

QSome say that the TNA is an LTTE proxy. What do you have to say about
When the LTTE is not there how can we become a proxy? We have never been LTTE’s


QA few months back in Parliament you said the Tamil people needed an
honourable solution. What do you mean by ‘honourable’ solution?
We want a just, reasonable and a workable and a durable political solution within the
framework of a united, undivided Sri Lanka.

QThe history provides evidence that Tamil manifestos have always aimed
at a division of Sri Lanka. For instance Chelvanayagams’ statement in
1975, “I wish to tell my people and the country that I consider the verdict at
this election as a mandate that the Tamil Eelam Nation should exercise the
sovereignty already vested in the Tamil people and become free”. Even the
1977 election manifesto speaks about the same thing. Do you still wish to
see a separate state?

You are talking about history of around thirty years ago. You are not talking about
history before that and history after that. The period you are talking about is the period
after the 1972 constitution. In the 1970 election manifesto of the Federal Party, the
Federal Party wanted the Tamil people to oppose any candidate who contested on a
separatist ticket. They further said that separatism is bad for Sri Lanka and worse for
the Tamils. The Federal Party put forward a solution for a united, undivided Sri Lanka.
The statement given by Mr. Chelvanayagam was made after all those proposals were
rejected. Then after 1983 the riots happened, the involvement of India, the Indo Sri
Lanka agreement which committed itself to the unity, territorial integrity, and
sovereignty of Sri Lanka. That is the current position.

QThe moment TNA announced its support to the common opposition
candidate many said the country will be separated. What can you say about
That is their imagination. Chances of the country being separated are higher under
President Rajapaksa. We need a President who can bond the people of this country
together as one nation. We do not want a divisive President. We do not want the
country to be separated on racial grounds. That is what Rajapaksa has been doing.
We think Maithripala Sirisena will bring the country together as one nation. Going by
the past record we have no reason to believe that President Rajapaksa will be
reasonable by the Tamil people.

QIn taking party decisions has India been a decisive factor for the TNA?

QBut right after the Northern Provincial Council election, the TNA met the
Indian Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and other high-ranking officials.
You went there to discuss the ethnic issue?
If President Mahinda Rajapaksa can discuss the ethnic issue with the Indian Prime
Minister why can’t I talk to him? I have a right to talk to him. I am a citizen of this
country and I am a Tamil. I am a democratically elected leader and I should talk about
my people. After all India was involved in finding a resolution to the ethnic conflict.
India has an interest in the resolution of the Tamil question in Sri Lanka.
If you can’t resolve the problem within the country you cannot prevent external
involvement. That’s why I say that President Rajapaksa has done nothing in the past
ten years and will do nothing in the future.

QTNA claims that it is the sole representative of Tamils. Do you think the
Tamil population in this country will back your decision?
No, TNA does not claim to be the sole representative. The TNA is the authentic
representative of the Tamil people. We clearly state we are the democratically elected
authentic representatives.
Also with regard to the decision taken by the Party, what makes you doubt that the
Tamil people would not back the decision? We are confident that they will.

QNorthern Provincial Councillor Anandi Shashidharan has decided not to
support to any candidate at the Presidential election. Does this mean there
is a split in the Party?
She is just one member in the Northern Provincial Council. Why are you talking about
one member? We have thirty members in the Northern Provincial Council. Why would
you get excited about one member out of thirty? How do you call that a split? She is
bound by the decision of the TNA. I am not aware of her having made any such
statement. If she is not bound by the TNA decision, disciplinary action will be taken
against her.
As a member of the Provincial Council of the Northern Province and as a member
elected on the TNA ticket, she is bound to comply with the decisions taken by the TNA.

QMR has stated he can win without the TNA. What can you say about this?
I do not want to make any comment about that. The President is a very experienced
person. We have not taken a decision to defeat Rajapaksa. Our decision is based upon
certain fundamental issues pertaining to the country as a whole -- issues pertaining to
good governance, democracy, supremacy of Parliament, independent judiciary and
civil institutions, free media, free civil society and preventing a dictatorship.
We have taken a decision based on certain values and principles. We have made a
judgment of Rajapaksa’s performance based on those values and principles.
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