Colombo, December 21 (newsin.asia):: The Tamil Progressive Alliance (TPA), a conglomeration of parties representing the Indian Origin Tamils in Sri Lanka, will be fighting the February 2018 local body elections in some districts as the “United Progressive Alliance (UPA)” – a multi-ethnic grouping.
TPA leader and Minister for National Languages and Dialogue, Mano Ganeshan, told the media that the UPA ( which will be known in Sinhalese as Ekamuthu Pragathisheeli Sandhaanaya) will field non-Tamils also.
Explaining the reasons for the switchover, Ganeshan said that the TPA is keen to be part of the Sri Lankan mainstream by promoting cooperation and understanding between the various communities in Sri Lanka such as the Sinhalese ,Muslims, Tamils and the Indian Origin Tamils.
“We are all part of a single Sri Lankan family and the UPA is an expression of it,” he said.
The UPA will put up candidates in 14 councils in the districts of Colombo, Kandy, Ratnapura and Matale, but will fight under the United National Front’s banner in other districts in South Sri Lanka. The United National Front (UNF) is a conglomeration of parties under the leadership of the United National Party (UNP) headed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Ganeshan however added that the Tamil Progressive Alliance (TPA) has not been abandoned. Its registration as a political party is pending with the Election Commission.
“Of the mandatory waiting period of four years, the TPA has completed only three. Therefore, we have another year to go before we can contest under the TPA banner. As of now we can contest as UPA,” he explained.
This is not the first time that a minority party has chosen to become a multi-ethnic party. In 1999, when M.H.M.Ashraff was head of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), he formed the National Unity Alliance (NUA). NUA fought the 2000 and 2004 elections a part of a larger alliance led by the then President Chandrika Kumaratunga.
However, infighting in the NUA and the SLMC (which was a part of it) led to the NUA’s dissolution in 2010. There was a tussle for leadership between Ashraf’s widow Ferial and the aspiring leader Rauff Hakim.
Though there were some Sinhalese in the NUA, it was basically a party composed of Muslims from the SLMC.
It remains to be seen how multi-ethnic and how lasting Ganeshan’s United Progressive Alliance (UPA) will be.
(The featured image at the top is that of United Progressive Alliance leader Man Ganeshan)