By Aruni Mallawarachchi
Parliamentarian Tharanath Basnayaka says the people still want a Mahinda Rajapaksa Government.
Excerpts of the interview:
Have you taken membership of the Podujana Peramuna Party?
A: No. Many of us, including myself, do not have membership neither does Mahinda Rajapaksa.
You are one of those who joined the JO from the SLFP. Those in the Pohottuwa are not very favourable towards you all, isn’t that so?
A: Actually, there aren’t as many disputes as you mention. The other thing is, what everyone wants is to get rid of the UNP; there is unanimity on that.
Recently, 10 Parliamen-tarians, including you, met Mahinda Rajapaksa and didn’t you all complain about the belittling and harassment by the Pohottuwa?
A: It is true that we met Mahinda Rajapaksa. We generally meet him and discuss about future programmes. On that day, too, we discussed about establishing a broad alliance to topple the UNP Government.
So, that means you didn’t discuss what I mentioned at all?
A: It is like this, there are problems. It is not that there aren’t any. You can’t, ever, embark on a journey without problems. But, while being amidst these problems finding solutions and moving forward towards victory, is the aim. It is not that there are no jolts, obstructions or incidents that cause pain of mind. But, we have to overcome those obstructions and go on this journey, in cordiality.
Those in the Podujana Peramuna say, if SLFPers are to join them they have to agree to the policies, terms and conditions of the Podujana Peramuna. What is your attitude about such views?
A: That is why I am saying, there are various views and opinions. See, if you take the UNP, even they have conditions and policies, relevant to them. It is the same with the SLFP and the SLPP. Whatever policies, opinions and conditions exist we will have to win the national election. We should discuss all these facts at one table and arrive at a decision. What I say is, first we should all get together and send the UNP Government home. Then we can solve these minor problems by sitting down to discussions.
Although you are talking about joining, at the last Budget, the SLFP didn’t vote against it. Why did they make a separate decision when discussions are underway about joining together?
A: I think it would have happened based on instructions and knowledge of the Chairman of the SLFP, President Maithripala Sirisena. However, what the people of this country expect is for these two camps to join together and send this government home by establishing a broad front. The SLFP is well aware of that, and while the situation was such, they abstained from voting against the Budget. Actually what the SLFP did was to kick aside the people’s expectations.
When they are behaving in this manner, can you go to the villages and tell the people about an alliance that you hope to form?
A: There is such a problem. But we are trying our maximum to establish this new Alliance. We have told the people that we will do it, somehow. The reason is we have to fulfil the people’s aspirations; it is a responsibility of ours as well as of the SLFP.
Is it true, that, a group from the JO met Mahinda Rajapaksa and expressed their displeasure at the delay in forming an alliance and said it was pointless to keep on having discussions on a ‘marriage’ that will not take place?
A: There are various opinions among members of the JO; there are Parliamentarians, there, who represent Wimal Weerawansa’s Party, Udaya Gammanpila’s Party, and the Parties of Dinesh Gunawardena and Vasudeva Nanayakkara. Even though there are various opinions, what we are trying to do is gather them all and protect the country. We have to move forward, at this time, as a front opposed to the UNP. Whatever, conflicts, opinion wise, we will stand together on one side with Mahinda Rajapaksa.
But, Wimal Weerawansa and some others are of a different opinion regarding the behaviour of the SLFP on the Budget?
A: What did you mean by that?
Weerawansa says, this is a way of protecting the UNP in an improper and indirect manner and is a way of supporting them?
A: It is fair for them to think so when they view this process, as I said earlier this was kicking away the people’s expectations. But some members of the SLFP directly voted against the Budget. Seniors such as S. B. Dissanayake and Dilan Perera supported us. That should be appreciated.
There are various views being expressed that they did that with the intention of joining the Pohottuwa.
A: What we should do first is to gain victory at the Presidential Election. We would like it if we receive the support of all 225 in Parliament, then. The other thing is S. B. Dissanayake and Dilan Perera, aren’t strangers they are our people. They are persons who put in a great effort to build up this political reinforcement, from the very beginning.
But due to following such procedures, seniors such as Mahinda Samarasinghe allege, the team led by you is destroying the old SLFP?
A: SLFP is a supreme Party that we respect, very much, but people have decided that the ‘marriage’ with the UNP should be stopped. We are not the ones who are destroying the SLFP. The policies of the UNP and the SLFP are today in the UNP’ lap, that will not work, they should get away from that.
Are you saying the SLPP is superior to the SLFP, and is more principled?
A: There isn’t a great difference between the two, policies wise. However, when it comes to actions there are instances of issues. The SLPP has won the people’s attraction, in a very short period of time, and is in the hearts of the people. Behind this Party is the sensitive leader Mahinda Rajapaksa. It was on his behalf that people joined hands around this Party. I think the people gave an answer to the question you asked me, at the last election.
The Pohottuwa received votes, at the time, due to their opposition against Good Governance and not because of the excellence of the Pohottuwa, wasn’t it?
A: What do you mean by that?
I am saying, as the people were disgusted with Good Governance, they voted for your faction at the time?
A: That is correct; rejecting Good Governance meant they want Mahinda Rajapaksa back again. They voted against the Government as they want Mahinda Rajapaksa. The people of this country are calling for a Mahinda Rajapaksa Government. My personal opinion is that Mahinda Rajapaksa should become the Prime Minister of the government we establish. He should be there in the government we set up. There is no use of a government without him, in it.
Those in the SLFP are already saying Maithri is the President and Mahinda is the Prime Minister. News is being spread that if Maithri is the Presidential Candidate, the Premiership will go to Mahinda Rajapaksa. Then your wish will come true. Then there will be no problem?
A: It is like this. No proper announcement has been made about the Presidential Candidate, as yet. Various names are being mentioned. Therefore, it is difficult to say anything about it. However, we will work for the person Mahinda Rajapaksa proposes.
Who is the Presidential Candidate you personally expect?
A: In my heart I would like Mahinda Rajapaksa to contest. The entire country is waiting for him to come back so that he can correct these wrongs.
But then he cannot contest again?
A: Yes, according to the Constitution he cannot contest again. But if we can do something in Parliament to bring him back we will do that, as well. I cannot say exactly who the Candidate will be since discussions are still underway. But Mahinda Rajapaksa will propose the person who can definitely win.
If he proposes Gotabaya Rajapaksa?
A: We will definitely work without fear for anyone whom Mahinda Rajapaksa names.
But it is apparent that there are many who are opposed to Gotabaya Rajapaksa. They consider him unsuitable as a Presidential Candidate. They talk about his shortcomings and weaknesses?
A: Who does not have any allegations against them? Who does not have stories being related against them? On the other hand what are his shortcomings and weaknesses?
Allegations are about the fact that he is a dual citizen and about him not being a politician. And also about the minorities being against him and that there are several cases against him and he doesn’t possess democratic qualities?
A: If Gotabaya Rajapaksa is the candidate we have no problems at all with that. Those who are opposed to us are the ones who have all those problems. If he contests, personally, I too would like him to become the President of this country. Even though Gotabaya Rajapaksa is not a politician, he is a good administrator. People know of the good things he did while he was Defence Secretary. The support he gave to end the war is commendable. Not only that, he beautified the city of Colombo, within a short period of five years, which was in a terrible state. He built roadways and parks. What a lot he did? Many are scared of him coming to power.
It is said that many fear that the white van culture will come back and a military administration will be set up?
A: I am not talking about such a fear. It is the fear that he will achieve victory and protect the motherland. Many have that fear including the UNP.
On the other hand the stories about white vans and talk about a military administration is what they have spread. They are the ones who tried to introduce these stories to society.
The death of veteran journalist Lasantha Wickrematunga has been credited to Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Wickrematunga’s daughter has filed a case against him, it is said?
A: I also got to know about it when the media reported on it, recently. My question is if he is a suspect in that murder, why did they not take any action at that time and why are they, making such an allegation after such a long time. That is the problem I have.
Are you saying that this is also a conspiracy?
A: Gotabaya Rajapaksa is a talented, honest leader. He has a great following among all, the Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims. The UNP especially is not in favour of his coming forward to contest. They are trying to do various things and prevent his journey.
You said that the minorities are attracted to Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
However, what most people say is that, most of those who have gathered around Gotabaya and his ‘Eliya’ organisation are racists?
A: In this journey there are various views. As mentioned earlier, this country belongs to all ethnicities. But such allegations are being made by opposing factions. The ‘Eliya’ programme is being done very well, and is also a programme appreciated by the people. Therefore, I do not take any notice of those allegations. But if someone is spreading racism in order to strengthen their political power, I do not like that. Neither does Gotabaya Rajapaksa like it.
It is being said, power in this country should be given to another Rajapaksa, but the people of this country don’t like cronyism and nepotism coming back, they said no to the Rajapaksa government because of those things?
A: In 2015, people did decide they didn’t want a Rajapaksa Government. But in a short time they got disgusted of the Good Governance Government, they elected. The people are once again asking for a Mahinda Rajapaksa Government. What did this government which spoke about nepotism and extreme friendships come into power and do on behalf of the country and the people? The people know about those things. The people want correct the mistake they made in 2015. What is important to the people is neither nepotism nor extreme friendship; they want to eat and drink in happiness and live a prosperous life.
Although you say that, it is apparent that the UNP is becoming stronger. Certain members of the SLFP have already begun supporting them?
A: Yes. Some have taken to doing that. Parliamentarians like Vijitha Vijayamuni say they will join the UNP.
Recently, 12 SLFP activists including the SLFP District Organiser Latheef, of your district, obtained membership of the UNP. Isn’t the UNP getting strong like this a challenge for you?
A: That, the SLFP should be, aware of! Their duty is to protect the Party.
Kurunegala is the SLFP General Secretary’s district. It is Dayasiri Jayasekera’s duty to protect his Party members, in his district. It is true that people breaking away and joining the UNP is bad for both factions. But our SLPP has a very strong programme. We are on a continuous move towards success and daily become stronger. Programmes such as ‘Gama Samaga Pilisandarak’ are being carried out very successfully.
It seems as if the friendship between President Maithripala Sirisena and Sajith Premadasa has increased considerably. It is also apparent that a group against Ranil is gathering around Sajith. Couldn’t it be that they are preparing to establish a new alliance?
A: I do not think that the President will join any other alliance other than the broad Alliance that will be set up by Mahinda Rajapaksa. However, if that happens the people of this country will further reject the journey of the SLFP.
There are allegations that the game you played to defeat the Expenditure Heads of the Ministries of Vajira Abeywardena and Patali Champika Ranawaka was very unbecoming?
A: It is about 10 years, since, I joined Parliament. In these 10 years, I have not seen such a defeat. This is not an improper action but a very good massive plan. This was felt strongly by the two relevant Ministers and the Government. It is possible, as it was not mentioned at the Party Leaders’ meeting; such an allegation is being made. But you can’t plan something and talk about it to each and everyone.
But finally, all of those plans were a waste; the Budget was passed, wasn’t it?
A: The main factor that will impact on toppling this Government is not the Budget. The main factor will be the elections. We will give them a good answer at the Provincial Council Elections or the Presidential Election.
(Pic by Amitha Tennakone)
Sharia University should be acquired by Govt – Dr. Kavinda Jayawardena
02:00 AM May 23 2019
Islamic terrorism was allowed to grow – Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thera
02:00 AM May 20 2019
21/4 could easily have been averted Complacency kills!
02:00 AM May 16 2019
Radicalisation should be stopped in its tracks – M. Senthil Thondaman
02:00 AM May 14 2019
IS planned to create a province of the caliphate in the East – Prof. Rohan Gunaratna
02:00 AM May 12 2019
Power greedy SLPP wants to topple Govt − Alawathuwala
02:00 AM May 01 2019
If Gota is ready we are also ready - Ratnayake
02:00 AM Apr 29 2019
National Security Paramount, Not My Candidacy
02:00 AM Apr 28 2019
UNP member will contest as common candidate - Ashok Abeysinghe
02:00 AM Apr 26 2019
Gota is a good administrator - Basnayaka
02:00 AM Apr 24 2019
Our struggle is to make the people win - K.D. Lalkantha
02:00 AM Apr 01 2019
We have not struck deals with anybody - Mahinda Amaraweera
02:00 AM Mar 29 2019
Popular Right Now
Sharia University should be acquired by Govt – Dr. Kavinda Jayawardena
02:00 AM May 23 2019
House adjourns ahead of schedule
09:09 AM May 23 2019
NCM against Bathiudeen not in near future
11:15 AM May 23 2019
Body of doctor found in Kotahena
11:13 AM May 23 2019
Sangha Council asks Rishad, Salley, Hizbullah to resign
11:35 AM May 23 2019
Dates given for debate on NCM against Bathiudeen
12:15 PM May 23 2019
Special HC decides to hear D.A. Rajapaksa museum case
12:23 PM May 23 2019
Modi wins majority seats
01:30 PM May 23 2019
IUSF up in arms over BCSL
02:30 PM May 23 2019
Oppose violence in the name of religion - Ambassador Sadiq
02:30 PM May 23 2019