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“Don’t send Sampanthan back empty-handed”: Mano Ganesan

Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Friday, 3 November 2017 00:00

By Dharisha Bastians

Minister for National Co-existence and Official Languages and Leader of the Tamil Progressive Alliance Mano Ganesan yesterday urged political parties in the island’s south to offer TNA Chief Rajavarothiam Sampanthan a reasonable power sharing arrangement he could take back to his people.

“My appeal to all parties is this – don’t send Mr. Sampanthan back empty-handed to the north,” Ganesan said during the fourth day of debate on the Interim Report of the Steering Committee tasked with drafting new constitutional proposals.

The TNA Leader, a veteran lawmaker who is being vilified in sections of the Tamil polity as a traitor who is compromising too much on Tamil demands for new power sharing arrangements in a new constitution, has vowed the TNA will strive for consensus on the issues rather than remain inflexible in negotiations on the new constitution. 

In January 2015, Sampanthan’s TNA delivered the northern and eastern Tamil vote to the common candidate Maithripala Sirisena, smoothing his path to victory in that presidential election. The TNA decision to support President Sirisena’s candidacy was based on trust that the new administration would address Tamil grievances deliver on a permanent political solution to end decades of ethnic strife.

Ganesan’s concerns are shared by other moderates across the country, who fear that the failure of southern politicians to work with the moderate Tamil leadership of the day to find a reasonable solution could result in another lost opportunity to resolve the national question, and empower Tamil nationalists who adopt more intractable positions on issues of power sharing and governance structures.

“I have my issues with the TNA on certain issues,” Ganesan admitted during his speech at the Constitutional Assembly, “but I have understood that this is the last chance at finding a long-term solution to the national question. Sampanthan is our last chance.”

He said that while the Sinhalese people had reasonable fears that power sharing could lead to separation, the Tamil people also had justifiable fears that they would always be second-class citizens in a country that was supposed to be multi-ethnic and multi-religious.

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