DPF to the fore

Friday, 14 October 2011 00:23 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Ganesan calls for grand opposition alliance

Leader of the Democratic People’s Front (DPF) Mano Ganesan is once again in the limelight of country’s political scene, following his impressive performance at the recently-concluded local authority elections.

Ganesan told the Daily FT that defeating the Government could only be done through a grand opposition alliance and that it was the responsibility of the United National Party (UNP) to take the lead and form an alliance. He said that although the UNP Leader had to be the head of such alliance, he had failed to understand this basic fact.

Ganesan thanked Ranil Wickremesinghe for destroying the United National Front (UNF), claiming that the move had enabled the DPF to contest future elections on its own or bargain with strength in alliance.

He further asserted that the Government had not performed well in many areas at the recently-held election, but the victories they received were due to the wrong strategies of UNP.

“Beautifying the lives of the citizens of the city should take priority over the beautifications of the streets, roads, and real estate. Nobody in their right mind will be against development. But it should be done within the rule of law and recognise rules of the natural justice,” Ganesan stressed.

Following are excerpts from the interview:

Q: How satisfied are you with the performance of the Democratic People’s Front at the recently-held elections?

A: We are one of the youngest performing parties in the country. DPF was formed in 2001 and we have been growing as a party since then. When we look at the results since year 2002, in the three successive Colombo Municipal Council elections under our own Ladder symbol, in 2002 we collected over 12,000 votes with two seats. In 2006 we secured over 16,000 votes with four seats. This year we have got 26,000 plus votes with six seats. In addition we have got one seat each in Dehiwala-Mt. Lavinia Municipal Council and Kollonnawa Urban Council.

Altogether we have collected near 30,000 votes in Colombo district in the recently-held election. Personally I am not fully satisfied. But as the Leader of the DPF, I am happy with the performance of our party. I know how to develop this 30,000 to 60,000 in the shortest possible period in Colombo District.

Q: What do you think about your victory in Colombo?

A: I asked every voter to cast only one preference for me. All have done it. Some have given me all three or two preferences. Our party has received 26,000 plus votes. My preferences are over 28,000.

Q: How would you define the overall victory?

A: It is great to stand on our own legs instead of borrowed clutches. We were part of the UNF with the UNP. Today the UNF is history. I should thank the UNP leadership for destroying the UNF. Otherwise we would have been pressurised to contest under the borrowed symbol. If so we would have missed this golden opportunity to evaluate our own strength. So thank you Ranil Wickremesinghe!

We will now march forward. In future we can contest all elections on our own or bargain with strength in alliance. We have increased our vote bank in all five electorates in the city. We have done well especially in Colombo north and Colombo west. Non-UNP votes including our vote are more than the UNP vote in the city. It is reflected in the council membership. This is how I define our victory.

Q: Do you believe that the DPF could have performed better if you had a proper backing from other Tamil parties?

A: What other Tamil parties? All the so-called Tamil parties are within the Government, except the TNA and the DPF. The TNA endorsed us during the elections. We endorsed them during their elections in the north. We would have performed better if the people had come out to vote in large numbers. Only 50% of the Tamil voters have participated in the vote. That could be because this was a local government election. In future we will educate the people so that we can perform better in all future elections.

Q: How would you define the Government’s CMC defeat?

A: It is not a surprise. Colombo City being the traditional stronghold of UNP, the Government could not have performed any better. But the Government has increased its vote bank in Colombo City and brought down the UNP lead.

Q: What are your views about the Government’s victory in Kandy and Nuwara Eliya, which were UNP strongholds?

A: The UNP has a problem. There are a few extremists in the UNP. They are hijacking the UNP’s journey. It is the problem of the UNP today. These extremists are against alliance politics. You can’t defeat this Government without a grand opposition alliance. The UNP Leader fails to understand this basic fact.

Of course, with the UNP being the largest party, it should play the lead role in any alliance. The UNP Leader has to be the leader of the alliance. Kandy is a sorry story for the UNP. The Government won due to the errors in the UNP strategy. Nuwara Eliya was given to the Government by the UNP. If only the UNP had an alliance with the Ceylon Democratic Unity Alliance (CDUA), our alliance partner in the Nuwara Eliya District, it would have won the Nuwara Eliya Municipal Council. The votes of the UNP and CDUA together are more than the vote of the UPFA.

In the Kollonnawa Urban Council, our vote and the UNP vote put together is more than the UPFA. But the UPFA won the Kollonnawa Urban Council. In Colombo too, if we had an alliance with the UNP, we would have got near 32 seats, an absolute majority in the council. The Government did not perform well in many areas. The victories they received were due to the wrong strategies of the UNP.

Q: After a long pause following your defeat in the 2010 general elections, you have emerged triumphant once again, with bargaining power. What are your future plans?

A: I was prevented from winning in Kandy by hooliganism. Tamil plantation voters in Nawalapitiya and Gampola electorates in Kandy District were chased away from voting. That is why I could not win. But there is no pause as such in my political life. Some thought I would retire from politics and go home. I am a person with plenty of steel and fire within me. It will last for many decades in the future. I am active as always.

We planned carefully and gained a respectable vote, though I am not satisfied personally, especially about our performance in Colombo District. My future plan is simple. Theoretically, I wish Tamil people obtain a respectable future with the Sinhala and Muslim brothers and sisters in this undivided, united Sri Lanka, our common motherland. Politically, we will now work to build a new grand opposition alliance.

Q: Do you feel that the Government will allow the UNP to carry out its work in the CMC peacefully?

A: The track record of the Government says that it will not allow the UNP a smooth run. The talk of the town is that the Government has different plans to change the local government ordinance to suit its strategy in the CMC. Almighty Allah should help my friend Muzammil!

Q: Will the Government stop demolishing houses and evicting shanty dwellers in Colombo?

A: I do not know; you must ask the Government. But one good thing happened in this election campaign. It is that this issue of demolishing houses and evicting dwellers became the main subject. The people of Colombo have already obtained personal assurances from the very mouths of the President and Defence Secretary. Milinda Moragoda is the witness. It is on record. I trust they will not go back.

Q: What measures will you take about the people in temporary shelters at present whose houses were demolished by the Government?

A: We have identified three locations. One is Slave Island and other two are in Torrington Avenue and Mayura Place. People have been evicted from these locations. A part of the Slave Island people received housing in Dematagoda. Others have been are left high and dry. The Urban Development Authority has given assurances that these sets of people will receive preference in the new housing constructions. As a party we will monitor the situation.

Q: Considering the overall election results, one could assume that although the Sinhala Buddhist community has accepted the Rajapaksa regime, the Government has failed to win the confidence of the minorities. Do you agree? Why?

A:  Yes. It is very much visible. The Government must look at it internally. It has failed to win over the Tamil-speaking minorities. The Government must come out of the war victory mentality. The defeat of the LTTE is not the defeat of the Tamil and Muslim people. The Government says this in public. But it has to be matched by deeds. It is the hard truth.

Q: Election results prove that the citizens in Colombo have not accepted the development projects and beautification programme of the Government. How could one convince the people in Colombo and win their vote?

A: No party has received an absolute majority in CMC. It is the fact. There was a time when the UNP always received near 40 seats in CMC. It is all over now. The Government says that out of the 53 total memberships, the UNP has only 24 and 29 are against the UNP. It is true. But there is arithmetic also. The Government and its partners put together are only 22. But UNP plus DPF and JVP are together 31.

In fact we do not have to convince the people. By this result, Colombo people have now convinced the political parties and leaders with a message. The message is ‘work together’. We need to work together to develop Colombo. Beautifying the lives of the citizens of the city should take priority over the beautifications of the streets, roads, and real estate. Nobody in their right mind will be against development. But it should be done within the rule of law and recognise rules of natural justice.

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