by Shanika Sriyananda
Parliamentarian Prabha Ganesan who pledged to support the government on Thursday to help reach a two-third majority, said the weak Opposition could not address the grievances of the Tamils and the only leader that could solve the national problem was President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his government, which would be in power for the next 15 years.
Meeting the President
A businessman and an electronic engineer by profession, Ganesan in an interview with the Sunday Observer said his crossover was supported by all the organisers of the Democratic People's Front (DPF) and the President has pledged to look into the grievances of Tamils.
"Tamils are happy and have placed trust in President Rajapaksa as he wants all ethnic groups to be Sri Lankans. President Rajapaksa has a special affection for Sri Lanka and as he was determined to free the country from terror he will develop this country to a world class destination. I don't think that there would be any other who can solve the national problem."
Excerpts of the interview:
Q: Why did you decide to support to the government?
A: During the military operation Tamils had lots of problems. At that time being in the Opposition we took to streets and protested against the government. We, the Democratic People's Front (DPF) wanted to show the government the problems faced by the Tamils due to military operation through our agitations. Responding to our protests, the government took some decisions to ensure the safety of Tamils.
There are allegations of human rights violations during the military operations and the government has appointed the Commission to prove them. But after the war everything has become normal and no such allegations are propped up so far as the government is looking into human rights seriously.
Now the war is over but the root causes of the conflict have not been addressed.
After the war victory the government is in a strong footing. Therefore while being in the Opposition, we cannot find solutions for the problems of the Tamils. Tamils need development and need to restore their rights. It is not productive to be outside the government and criticise the government at this juncture.
As a Tamil I can not become the President of this country to solve our problems.
The only alternative is to be with President Mahinda Rajapaksa and get his support to find reasonable answers.
Q: What are the immediate problems of Tamils that you are talking about?
A: During the emergency period the Tamils were registered in Colombo. Recently the government has re-commenced registering Tamils. These activities humiliate Tamils. We need to addresses problems of Tamils who one yet subjected to suspicion. I hope I can talk these issues with the President and I'm confident he will address them
Q: DPF was with the Opposition throughout and how stable is the Opposition to meet the aspirations of the Tamils?
A: The Opposition is weak so as its leadership. Within the Opposition, there are two or three groups who struggle for power. I believe this government will last for over 15 years and the weak opposition will be weaker.
We don't see a good future being in the Opposition. As minorities we cannot imagine of solving our problems. There is no alternative other than supporting the government.
Q: But your brother, Mano Ganesan, who is the leader of the DPF is still in the Opposition and has opposed your move by saying you have betrayed the Party and the Tamil people. How do you respond to his claims?
A: I didn't betrayed Tamils and I took this decision to ensure a better future for Tamils. He will understand this truth soon. In the 2010 Presidential Election President Rajapaksa sought our support. At that time I told my brother to support President Rajapaksa but he took a different line and supported Sarath Fonseka.
I was aware that the Opposition cannot come to power and I wanted to support the President and I invited some of the powerful government ministers including an advisor to President to my house and held discussions to support the President. We negotiated but my brother refused to change his stance.
He supported the UNP led Alliance to win Sarath Fonseka and led several protests against the government. But at the General Election the UNP betrayed him by not offering him a national list slot.
The entire thing was manipulated by Ravi Karunanayake and Karu Jayasuriya. Ravi was afraid of Mano thinking that he would secure more votes from Colombo. Ravi wanted to become the Colombo North Organiser but he knew since majority of voters are Tamils he could not have a place if Mano was given a chance. Therefore, he had well planned the conspiracy to drop my brother's name from the national list.
My party people were very much upset and they wanted to have a change. I consulted the organisers before pledging my support to the President and they all gave me their blessings.
Q: As a pro-Government Parliamentarian what are your priorities now?
A: I will do my utmost to educate Tamils in Colombo North about the development drive initiated by the government. They are with the UNP for over several decades but the UNP cannot help them to fulfill their needs. People of Colombo North have lots of problems and their living standards are very low.
I had already spoken to Minister of Economic Development Basil Rajapaksa and he told me that he would help me to develop the areas.
I will work hard to get their votes to the government in the next Municipal Council election. Over 59 percent of voters in the Colombo North are Tamil speaking people. I would convince them and change them. I will visit these areas from Monday to talk to them.
Q: What would be the future of the DPF? Will you be able to convince your brother to support the government?
A: I had consulted all the party organizers before taking the decision. They fully agreed with my decision. Though my brother is the party Leader, he only handled the national and international issues. I am the one who is in touch with the people. I am the one who go to grass roots level and want the DPF to support the government.
My brother is in India and I will tell him my stance when he returns. I am sure I can convince him.
Q: Are you confident that Tamils will have a better future under this government?
A: Tamils are happy and confident of President Rajapaksa as he wants all ethnic groups to be Sri Lankans. After the war there are no divisions in this country. It is a united country and we all have to work together to develop the country.
We all believe that Tamils will find solutions for their long standing grievances under the leadership of President Rajapaksa. As the way he had end the terrorism, he will address the national issue too. To me he is the only leader who can do this. We have confidence in him. President Rajapaksa told me: " Prabha if there is anything tell me, I will look into the matter". I trust him a lot.
President Rajapaksa has a special affection for Sri Lanka and as he was determined to free the country from terror he will develop this country to a world class destination. I don't think that there would be any other who can solve the national problem.
Q: Some LTTEers are still trying to recoup. Do you think there is an opportunity for them to build up the LTTE?
A: No, there is no possibility for them to re-group. Earlier, all the Tamils, including me, were very much with the LTTE in our minds. That is the truth and no one can hide this fact. But nothing brought through the LTTE's military struggle. The LTTE started its arms struggle during the late 1970 and the Tamils experienced only destruction.
Q: Do you mean that Tamils have rejected the LTTE's separatism ideology?
A: Yes. They want to live in a united country. What the Tamils are asking is not a separate land but power sharing. We want the government to amend the 13th Amendment to devolve power.
Q: It is seemed that Tamil politicians are divided and how do you see the future of these Tamil political parties?
A: Tamil politicians in the North and the East are different from the Southern Tamil politicians. The Southern Tamil politicians have always lived with Sinhalese but those in the North and the East are living with Tamils. But we try to support each other when needed and wanted to get all of them together.
Q: The Tamil Diaspora has pledged it support to develop the country and how do you plan to get the support of the diaspora known to you?
A: I have contacts with them and we requested them to support the development activities in the country. They are not talking about the LTTE or a separate land for Tamils. They are aware of the suffering undergo by the Tamils in the North. The government is doing its best but needs help to uplift their living standards.
The diaspora needs to release their funds to develop the country.
Q: Are you supporting the government for getting some personal benefits?
A: It is wrong. I have enough money to live. I am a businessman and this was not discussed at the meeting.
I have extended my support for the government unconditionally. The government does not offer any posts or perks as it has a strong foundation. - courtesy: The Sunday Observer -