Colombo: Three parties representing Sri Lanka’s 15 lakh Indian Origin Tamils (IOT) have banded together as the Tamil Progressive Alliance (TPA) to fight for the IOT’s political rights and not just for higher wages for plantation workers.
The TPA, which was formed on Tuesday, comprises the Democratic Peoples’ Front (DPF) led by Mano Ganeshan; the Up Country Peoples’ Front (UPF) led by V.Radhakrishnan; and the National Union of Workers (NUW) led by P.Thigambaram.
Radhakrishnan and Thigambaram are Ministers in the Maithripala Sirisena government.
The TPA does not include the Ceylon Workers’ Congress (CWC) led by Arumugan Thondaman though it is the largest IOT trade union cum political party in Sri Lanka.
Asked why CWC is not included, TPA President Mano Ganesan told Express, that he had found it difficult to work with the CWC.UPF’s Radhakrishnan said that the CWC is politically inconsistant.The TPA,he explained, is a politically oriented outfit going beyond, but not excluding, wage issues.The CWC is more of a trade union than a political party.
Ganeshan pointed out that while the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and the Muslim parties have political agendas and fight for the political rights of their respective cimmunities, no party of the IOT has so far had a political goal, or a road map for the attainment of the political rights of the IOT.Their concern has been restricted to the wage issue in the plantations.Thigambaram said that even a critical issue like housing for the plantation workers had not been taken up.
Ganeshan said that the IOT face issues relating political representation at all levels of the democratic set up.Electoral constituencies and Pradeshiya Sabhas have to be reorganized to correct inequities and to increase the representation of the IOT.
Ganeshan pointed out that while the problems of the North Eastern Tamils and the Muslims are highlighted in the media and international forums, no one talks about the plight of the IOT.
“The TPA will take the IOT’s issue to both the national and international levels,” he said.
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