I will voice for more than a Federal Govt – Sasitharan
By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan
Former Northern Provincial Council Minister and Leader of Eela Thamilar Suyaathchchi Kalagam launched in 2018, Ananthi Sasitharan speaks to Ceylon Today on local politics and shares her opinion on the upcoming General Election. Her Political Party is an alliance of the Thamizh Makkal Thesiya Kootani (TMTK) led by Former Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran and she said that they are the alternative party to Tamil National Alliance (TNA) which has represented the Tamil people of the North and the East so far.
Sasitharan, prior to her political journey, served at the Jaffna District Secretariat as an accountant where she met and married the political wing leader of the LTTE, Elilan. A firebrand in Tamil politics, Sasitharan has been critical of the TNA from the beginning.
What is your prediction for the upcoming General Election and what does your candidacy mean to you?
With the pandemic, it has been challenging for all politicians including myself as a woman to hold political rallies and to introduce ourselves to the people. I think I have not reached many in my locality for them to vote for me. My preferential number is easy to remember and that is why many think I will stand a chance to be elected to Parliament. I hope so. The TMTK is challenging the TNA and we aim to secure over three seats out of the seven in the North and this is the second time I’m contesting. I am being closely watched because I am the wife of a former LTTE member and my campaign has been very difficult amidst surveillance. My posters have been vandalised and pulled down wherever my supporters have pasted them. This is to undermine my political party’s focus on the election.
What do you think about our current President?
Well, I have nothing to say because we have accused his regime of war crimes and that remains at that. From him, what I still want is justice. And like me, many others are also seeking his intervention for justice. He is the Executive President and he must help find the missing persons. We are yearning to know what happened to our loved ones who died in the war. To us Tamils, whether Rama or Ravana is ruling in the South matters not. We know what path the Government is treading. Our concentration is to fight for justice for the minority communities and challenge the Government. We want the international community to resolve the national problem.
What are your views on Tamil politicians in the North and East?
Most of them are giving false promises and not talking about the ground reality. Those charlatans have always hoodwinked the Tamils. Most of them are involved in corruption and have distorted the truths. As a party the TNA has also failed us and misused all the chances it had to develop the North. We will fight them democratically and enter Parliament very soon.
But your alliance leader Justice Wigneswaran was also accused of not developing the North despite being Chief Minister for five years. What have you got to say about that?
He was a Chief Justice and widely accepted for his personality. The international community has accepted him and respects him as a good leader who speaks about the plight of the Tamil people. Its people like me who are threatened for being the voice of the downtrodden, especially the women. We have no protection or security against any threats. Women have less opportunity to go out and campaign. Wigneswaran as a party leader has his own views. I can only speak of my own opinion.
What are the challenges female politicians in the North and East face?
It’s a tough challenge for women politicians and their women supporters. They cannot go about doing their work as our election campaigns are being blocked.
We don’t have big funds to spend on advertisement to show our vision and missions. My supporters go door-to-door to speak to families while their movements are being watched by the Police and military. Fear has mounted on people and the families of former LTTE combatants. There are subtle threats but at the end of the day, I know the TMTK will win over many Tamil politicians and I will enter Parliament.
The Yahapalana Government was criticised for having worked hand in hand with the TNA. You and many others also criticised the TNA. How do you rate the performance of the Yahapalana Government?
As I said before, the TNA had all the chances to do lots of work for our community. The TNA replaced those who had Government jobs with their own supporters in the North. They were only concerned about their own political journey and what they could gain. They offered jobs to those who agreed with them and the Gamperiliya programme was merely to boost their image.
The TNA did not work to eradicate poverty but only wanted power and to reap the benefits. I always tell people that the TNA is not the representative of the North and East Tamils. We thought the Yahapalana Government would give us a political solution and implement many solutions they said they would do. If we do go to Parliament we will ask more than a Federal system where people can live peacefully without hindrance.
The United National Party promoted Sajith Premadasa for the Presidential election last year and made a lot of promises to the Tamils but lost the race. This time too he is talking tosh about the 13th Amendment and that he would implement it. He says so only during his election campaign but he will never deliver. He has not said anything in favour of the Tamils.
Do you think you can win a federal government system?
We will continue to highlight it and we will want more power within the federal system. I have my own opinion on this and I don’t represent the views of our alliance leader.
I will voice for more than a federal government and our community will support this. Others may have their views but I will stand for mine. I want a better life for those affected women and children. The TNA did not care about the welfare of the downtrodden people of the North and East.
How sure are you of getting elected to Parliament?
That is my mission. If I get to Parliament, I will raise my voice for the Tamil political prisoners incarcerated under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. I will also fight for livelihood for war widows and highlight the need of international intervention to set up probe on missing persons etc.