Ilankai Tamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK) Secretary and former Minister of Agriculture for the Eastern Province, Krishnapillai Thurairasasingham said there will be no change just because the EPRLF broke away from the Tamil National Alliance (TNA).
“The EPRLF is only trying to create confusion among people before elections. Some of our members (ITAK members) have requested from us to contest separately, claiming that we have more support among people. Those who have already lost in elections have no other option than creating confusion among people by continuously contesting and experiencing a downfall,” he said.
Following are excerpts of the interview:
TNA coalition parties have made recent allegations that ITAK always takes arbitrary decisions on crucial issues. What is your justification over this stand as the secretary of ITAK?
A: This is a wrong idea of the coalition parties. We have always made a point to take decisions based on their opinions as well.
Whenever they had unjustified demands we have taken a stand to explain the situation in terms of their demands and so far we have worked amicably with TELO and PLOTE. There had been instances where grassroot level representatives have created issues within the coalition. However these issues were basically relating to personality differences. Coalition parties TELO and PLOTE were not dragged into any conflicts. The leaders of these constituent parties have understood the situation and had contributed to solving issues.
We are jointly working with others. These two parties initially proceeded on different paths while our party travelled on a democratic path. Some of our members have requested from us to contest separately claiming that we have more support among people.
However constituent party leaders have amicably worked with us and we believe we can travel far with our policies.
How do you view the breakaway of EPRLF?
A: They broke away due to their own reasons. Suresh Premachandran was the former spokesman for TNA. He conveyed unnecessary ideas to diplomats when participating in meetings with them. He did not cautiously tackle meetings. Thus we understood he was not a suitable spokesman.
People were dissatisfied with his interviews. People rejected him at the general elections. He requested for a ticket through the national list. Our policy at that time was to give a place to one of the female representatives through the national list.
Premachandran was infuriated with our decision. Therefore he began to distance himself from us. Even Parliamentarian Sivasakthy Ananthan of EPRLF distanced himself from our party and created conflicts. We tried to work with EPRLF at the upcoming elections, but they were not willing to proceed further.
Ananthan did not participate at the workshop which was organized to raise awareness and clarify points regarding the interim report on the Constitutional Reforms.
There will not be any change just because they broke away. They are just trying to create confusion among people. All steps taken by Premachandran have been unsuccessful. He could not work together even with Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam.
Anadasangaree lost his reputation among Tamil people just by writing letters. People have now realized that he is only capable of writing letters.
However Premachandran is well aware that if his party contests under their own symbol, people will reject them. Therefore they had to choose to form a coalition with a political party that followed a democratic path from the beginning.
Premachandran met Anandasangaree to proceed further. Sangaree had no other option but to join hands with him. They cannot function as a coalition for a long period. But they believe that the ‘sun’ symbol of the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) can make a change at the upcoming elections.
Anandasangaree contested under the same symbol in 2010 but people did not pledge their support. Those who have already lost in elections have no other option other than creating confusion among people by continuously contesting and experiencing a downfall.
Who are your mayoral candidates for Trincomalee and Batticaloa? What are the main highlights of your election manifesto?
A: Since it is a Local Government election, we have requested candidates of every ward to create their own manifesto that highlights development activities for every local council. We have directed them to print the manifestos while preparing for their campaigns following discussions with the party hierarchy.
Northern Chief Minister, EPRLF and Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF) led by Gajendrakumar have made wrong interpretations of the interim report on Constitutional Reforms. We held a meeting for all candidates contesting in every district, in which we explained the interim report clearly. We told them of the target we have reached through the interim report. This is just an interim report and once the complete report is out, we will be able to achieve our targets further.
We told our candidates that the interim report does not define a Unitary State alone. Power had been devolved based on a federal set-up. There are options being included for a North-East merger, but final decisions are yet to be made. Therefore we have not stepped away from our promises.
At the same time, none of the candidates have said that people questioned them regarding the progress of TNA on the process of finding a political solution. We are yet to decide on mayoral candidates.
Why did you recently say that Naseer Ahamed was made Eastern Chief Minister by Pillaiyan?
A: Pillaiyan’s party secretary recently made a comment that we were supporting the SLMC to run the Eastern Provincial Council.
When the government changed in 2015, there was an agreement among the proposition coalition at the council that Abdul Majeed who was the Chief Minister then, should resign after two and half years and another person appointed for the remaining period.
Pillaiyan was part of this coalition and after Majeed resigned, Naseer Ahamed became the Chief Minister. All the coalition members signed a petition and handed it over to the Governor.
After Ahamed became the Chief Minister, we are unaware if he had any issues to proceed further. He and his party members at the council were called for a discussion to form a coalition with the TNA.
We initially requested for the Chief Minister’s post but then there were issues for Ahamed to resign from his post therefore we agreed to take up the post of Deputy Chairman and two ministries at the council.
Pillaiyan’s faction said that even if we had 11 members at the council and SLMC with seven members, we were just assisting them in the East.
Therefore, I gave an explanation at a public meeting recently that we did not elect the Chief Minister. It was Pillaiyan himself and the coalition members who elected the new Chief Minister at that time.
We had an understanding with the SLMC and to maintain such an agreement, we formed the unity provincial government with SLMC.
Is it true that TNA members and SLMC members had disagreements during the tenure of the last Eastern Provincial Government?
A: No. We had no such disagreements and I deny it.
There are also allegations that during your provincial government there was discrimination against Tamil undergraduates when providing job opportunities. Is it true?
A: I disagree. There was no such discrimination. We the TNA and SLMC members decided to equally create the quota to provide job opportunities. The Chief Minister did appoint Muslims for areas in which the Muslim community was the majority, especially in Eravur.
Some of your representatives have said in public meetings that there shall not be any political solution if people fail to pledge their support to TNA. Is this an election tactic to secure votes?
A: If any of our representatives has said that, it is quite a wrong statement.
We have always said at public meetings that when we secure more local councils at the upcoming elections, we can become more powerful politically.