How can I contest from the Lotus bud? - Kumara Welgama
By Prageeth Sampath
UPFA Kalutara District MP Kumara Welgama admitted in an interview with Ceylon Today that certain wrongdoings took place during the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime. "That is why the minorities distanced themselves from us. The reason for our defeat was that we did not receive Muslim votes. Certain injustice was done to them. Therefore, we did not receive even two per cent of the Muslim votes. That is the truth."
Excerpts of the interview;
? Why didn't you attend the Sri Lanka Freedom Party Convention?
A: We did not get an invitation.
? The General Secretary of the SLFP said that everyone was sent an invitation
A: Even though he said that, we did not receive an invitation.
? You did not attend the conference for two years?
? Why, have you been cornered?
A: There is nothing like that. I am a strong member of the SLFP. I am a senior organizer in the party. I am the Deputy Chairman of the Central Committee. However, this time I did not receive an invitation.
? Has this happened before?
A: No. Previously, we received invitations. I will express my views regarding this, when I go to the Central Committee. Even though I am a long-standing SLFP member, I did not receive an invitation for the last two meetings of the Central Committee.
? Is this because you point out the faults of the SLFP?
A: I do not know about that. You have to ask them about it.
? What is the reason for this?
A: I looked into it. There are five members of the Joint Opposition in the Central Committee. The others do not go. Only I go for the Central Committee meetings. Now, even I do not get invited for those, either. I inquired about it.
? Did you inquire into it or did you ask them?
A: I tried to contact Duminda Dissanayake. He did not come to the phone. I spoke to one of his security officers, but I was unable to get through. Later on, I spoke to Mahinda Amaraweera. He said that he was the General Secretary of the Alliance and did not know anything about it.
? You created a new party while being in the SLFP and criticized the SLFP. Didn't Mahinda Amaraweera tell you to leave the party if you didn't like it?
A: Even though he said that, I did not even receive an invitation.
? Mahinda Amaraweera has alleged that you are sitting on the fence and trying to destroy the party. Is this true?
A: No. I love the SLFP. We are not sitting on the fence. We are clean members of the SLFP. Not only party members but the entire country is aware of that. They are the ones who are sitting on the fence. They have one foot in the SLFP and the other foot in the UNP.
? The proper policy of the SLFP is the Bandaranaike Policy and it is being protected by the SLFP. They are saying that the JO is engaged in destroying Bandaranaike Policies. Is this true?
A: S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike crossed over to the Opposition in 1952, because he did not like the policies of the UNP, D.A. Rajapaksa followed him. If you were to talk about party policies, Sirimavo Bandaranaike also condemned the policies of the UNP. It was because of the policies of the UNP that Sirimavo Bandaranaike's civic rights were removed. So, why has the SLFP got together with a party that does not have a policy and without protecting the Bandaranaike policies? Amaraweera has joined the UNP and is protecting the UNP policies. It was the members of the SLFP who went and leaned on the UNP Government. If not will our people who got 42, go and lean against the UNP which obtained 105? The UNP did not come and lean on the SLFP. It was the SLFP which went and leaned on the UNP. So, how can there be Bandaranaike policies there?
? The two parties got together to form a Government. They handled the pressure from the international community very well. That is what the President mentioned at the 66th Convention.
A: That is a lie. The Government asked them to carry out an investigation into the alleged war crimes committed by the Army. They did not defend the country. They tried to attack the Rajapaksa regime. The citizens of this country will not believe this story.
? Is there a disciplinary inquiry against you and the group?
A: No, not yet. We saw it in the media. Not even a letter has been sent, so far.
? Are they talking about a disciplinary inquiry?
A: I don't know, but there were some articles about this in the newspapers.
? Minister Rajitha Senaratne stated that he got fed up of the Rajapaksa regime due to the fact that they were inciting hatred and promoting racism. He also stated that this was the reason why he left the party. Is this true?
A: We accept the fact that certain blunders happened during the time of Mahinda Rajapaksa. That is why the minorities distanced themselves from us. We lost because we did not receive Muslim votes. There were certain injustices and we did not receive even two per cent of the Muslim votes. That is the truth.
Our Government carried out massive development work. The war ended during our time. Such good activities and things that were good for the country were carried out. In the meantime, there were certain small shortcomings and blunders that occurred. As a result, we did not receive the votes of the minorities and we lost the election.
? The problem of General Jagath Jayasuriya is not connected to the war. There is an accusation that the JO is spreading rumours throughout the country. What have you got to say about that?
A: Jagath Jayasuriya was a former Army Commander. Since he participated in this war he is being targeted with accusations. At this juncture, we need to work together and not discriminate against people based on their religion and ethnicity.
? The President promised to protect war heroes. When this is the case, why are false rumours being spread all over the country?
A: We did not spread false rumours. It is because the war ended that we are freely able to travel on the road. They are able to govern freely. How many terrorists targeted Maithripala Sirisena? At the same time, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga lost an eye. Gamini Dissanayake and Lalith Athulathmudali were killed. The citizens lived in fear. People were killed. Small children were killed. Buddhist monks were hacked to death. The war heroes, who rid this country of such a ruthless terrorist outfit, should be protected. We need to speak up and defend them. At the same time, most of the people do not accept what Sarath Fonseka said. I do not accept it either.
? How many individuals from the JO will join the Government?
A: No one.
? Is this what they said?
A: The Government is daydreaming.
? Even the JO is the same!
? From time to time, you keep mentioning that SLFP members are going to join the JO? Can you please elaborate on this?
A: Yes. Even though the 66th Anniversary Conference was held and a large number attended, most of them will join us. None of our members will go like that. Who will climb into a sinking ship for goodness' sake? Even the rats are deserting them. No one will climb into this. However, I am sure that they will cross over to this side.
? The Local Government Elections/Provincial Councils Elections will be held soon. Are you going to contest under the 'hand' symbol or the flower bud?
A: I will not contest under the flower bud. I am a pure SLFPer. So, how can I contest under the flower bud?
? Many believe that the JO will contest under the flower bud. Is this true?
A: There is a party that has been formed under the flower bud symbol. The SLFP has lost its way due to the blunders of this Government. A party has been established on behalf of those who are there and for the development of the country. I can see that, that party is developing rapidly.
? Will you join the new party?
A: How can I join the new party? I am a SLFPer.
? Are they attempting to chase you away from the SLFP?
A: We will talk about that at that time. It has not happened. Even though there are articles about this in the newspapers, no such thing has occurred.
Expect crossovers in droves when elections are announced We want to take an anti-UNP struggle forward
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