Chief Minister of the Eastern Province and TMVP Leader Sivanesadurai Chandrakanthan said that the TMVP was `part and parcel’ of the UPFA government and they would continue to strengthen the hands of the President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who had a clear vision to develop the Eastern province and also to sweep away the LTTE from the country. Planning to erase off the word `Puligal’ (Tiger) from his political party, he said in an interview with the Sunday Observer that some political groups had spread rumours that the TMVP was going against the UPFA. “But these are rumours with vested interests”, he said.
The former LTTE child soldier, the 33-year-old Chief Minister, who wanted to delay his marriage until he becomes politically stable, said that the TMVP was open to criticism and it had closed all the opportunities for attempts at inculcating the gun culture in the Province.” Tamils hate those who carry guns”, he said.
Following are the excerpts of the interview:
Q: How does the TMVP survive after a large number of your members obtained membership of the SLFP with Minister Muralitharan?
A:The Eastern people need a political party of their own to represent them. Earlier the Tamil political parties were against the government but we are with the government and part of the UPFA as well.
Tamils in the Eastern region have special problems and they want the TMVP to look into these matters. That is why the people gave us the mandate. They have accepted the TMVP as their political representative of the East.
Though Karuna Amman has joined the SLFP, the TMVP does not want to join the SLFP because we are already a part of the UPFA.
I want to tell the people of the South that the TMVP is always with the Mahinda Rajapaksa government and there are various rumours spread by interested parties that the TMVP is going against the government policies. They are all lies!
Q: But over 2,000 TMVPers had joined the SLFP with Minister Muralitharan?
A:(laughs) I do not want to comment anything about this matter.
Q: How confident are you that the TMVP can sustain itself in politics in future?
A:Our political future is 100 percent certain. We are strong enough to face any election and we are confident about it. As the leader of the TMVP, I have not changed my political vision from time to time. We have very strong policies. We negotiate with all the political parties. Eastern people were political refugees for decades and TMVP is the only party which tries to uplift the lives of those people. People have realised that and they support the TMVP.
Q: Is there any dispute between Minister Muralitharan and you?
A:I am a genuine politician. I can still remember in 2004 when we were coming to Colombo, Karuna Amman carried a pistol and threw that aside saying that we cannot win our struggle through weapons and we need to enter the democratic mainstream. We including myself gave full security for him to come to Colombo while other cadres remained with the LTTE.
After he left the country I worked with the government and formed the TMVP. I introduced him to President Rajapaksa and the Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. I worked with the government when he was not here.
We do not have personal grudges but his mentality is such that he wants to be the leader and control everything whether it is right or wrong! When he was with the LTTE he was the Commander and we had to obey him whether he was right or wrong. But now we are in the democratic field. The floor should be open for anyone to criticise anything. But if we try to say something he thinks that we are his enemies. However we are now in the democratic mainstream.
Q: Are you satisfied with the development and the resettlement done so far in the East?
A:Last two decades there was no development in our area. There was also no political leadership for the people. Now developing of the East is in full swing and all the sectors including education and health are being developed. President Rajapaksa has a special interest to develop the East and I enjoy myself of the privilege of directly contacting the President when I want his guidance on any matter. President’s brother Basil Rajapaksa also gives full support to us to develop the East. We have already drawn plans to develop the East.
Q: But, there are some accusations that the provincial council is corrupt. Your comments?
A:I totally deny these accusations and the public knows what we are doing. If there is such corruption they can always complain against the PC.
Q: According to you what are the priority areas the PC should consider for development?
A:I think we should consider developing the whole Eastern province because development projects were ever planed for the East due to LTTE terrorism. We should consider more favourably the remote areas in the East. There is no development in those areas at all.
Q: At a function held recently the TMVP had handed over the weapons. What is your guarantee that the TMVP would not carry guns?
A:I hope you know much about history. Due to terrorism the gun culture developed in the province. There are lots of uneducated Tamil youth here.
Tamils hate gun culture as they suffered a lot during the last two decades. Earlier the East was full of weapons and now people reject those who carry weapons. No one can now carry weapons here and the TMVP has surrendered over all its weapons.
The TMVP is fully free of weapons now.
Q: Though you claim that the TMVP cadres are not carrying weapons, the TMVPers were accused of abducting and murdering a school-girl to get a ransom. How do you respond to this allegation?
A:I strongly dismiss this allegation. The TMVPers does not have any involvement in any of these cases. The accused is not a TMVPer and he only supported the party during the election. I have already informed the Police and also the public to be careful about those who pose as TMVPers. I know that there is a conspiracy to tarnish the image of the TMVP.
We condemn this murder outright. It is an unfortunate incident. There are some people who want to claim that they are TMVPers as the TMVP is now very popular among the people.
We have already taken steps to educate the people and discussions are going on to issue IDs for the TMVPers.
Q: Once you said that the TMVP carry weapons to face the LTTE. The prevalence of LTTE `sleeping cadres’ is still there and how do you face the LTTE if you are `free of weapons’?
A:I do not think there `sleeping cadres’ would be a problem for us in the future. When their leaders were killed these cadres are left without command and they cannot carry out any attacks. They need leadership to operate successfully. But once our security forces destroy the LTTE leadership, they will be further isolated.
Q: What will happen to Prabhakaran and the LTTE, both of whom are facing their final days?
A:Very soon our soldiers will capture him or he will commit suicide. The LTTE has lost over 20,000 cadres. Thousands of Tamils died because of Prabhakaran and his madness. He also knows that. He cannot live because he did the biggest damage to the Tamil community. Death of Prabhakaran will bring a great relief for Tamils in this country. No two words, he should be destroyed.