JO has no deal with UNP - Lohan
By Anuradha Herath
UPFA Member of Parliament Lohan Ratwatte says, apart from the North and East the Joint Opposition can win in all other areas.
Excerpts of the interview:
What is the connection between the Joint Opposition and Maithripala Sirisena now?
A: When Maithripala Sirisena established this Unity Government he held a discussion with all of us. He told us that those who want to join the ruling party can do so and those who want to remain in the Opposition can remain there and express their views.
Now that has changed completely. Positions and Organizer posts were changed. I was also deprived of being the Organizer. It was my father who committed himself to ensure the victory of the SLFP for Chandrika in 1994, as national organizer. Today, the organizer posts have been given to Minister Amaraweera and Minister Duminda Disssanayake. Today, they have removed me from being the SLFP Organizer. This is a joke. SLFP supporters did not vote for Ranil Wickremesinghe to rule.
If your father was alive at this time would he have stayed with Maithripala Sirisena or Mahinda Rajapaksa?
A: It is a very good question. Actually if my father was alive Maithripala Sirisena would not have left the SLFP. I believe that, had he been there this situation would not have occurred. The reason is because Maithripala Sirisena was my father's Deputy Minister and he had a great relationship with him and they were friends too. Therefore, it is possible that they would have discussed this and then made a decision. My father would never have allowed such a situation to happen.
You said that, Maithripala Sirisena told you that those who want to join the Government could do so. And those who remain in the Opposition can sit in the Opposition. Are you trying to hide and attack fearing for your Parliamentary seat?
A: People voted for us, who are were with Mahinda whether we were parliamentarians or not on some principles. I personally believe that I am a better SLFPer than Maithripala Sirisena. No one can say that it is not so. I have never left the Party or spoken a word against the Party.
Even then you are deprived of your Organizer post. What is the actual reason for this?
A: The need is for those around Maithripala Sirisena to remain in power.
If they are to stay in power a majority is important?
A: That is why they are asking us to join them, after having removed us.
So why can't you join the Maithri faction?
A: There are contradictory opinions. Today, they are asking us to join. The next day they do something so that we cannot look them in the face.
Does that mean that they say one thing at the Central Committee meeting and do something else outside of that?
A: There is no one in the Party, which calls themselves the SLFP, to act responsibly and make decisions. One person will say one thing, the next morning someone else will come out and say it is no longer there. No other politician has been attacked personally as much as Mahinda Rajapaksa, in the political history of Sri Lanka. His wife and three children, elder brother, younger brother, all were attacked. Both secretaries were jailed. I think that not even Mugabe would have engaged in more political revenges, than this. At least, even J. R. Jayewardene provided that respect to Members of Parliament. Today this Parliament has fallen to an all time low.
It is said that a few from the Government will join the Joint Opposition? Is it just a statement only?
A: A few have said they will join. But we still cannot have any trust. Even if they join us or not we can definitely win this election.
However, during this minor elections, the advantage is always for the existing government?
A: We believe that except for the North and East we can win in all other areas.
However, a certain crisis is taking place in the North and East too?
A: Yes. That too is in pieces. The Government has a lot of problems at this time.
What the President of the country is saying is not known to the Prime Minister. What the Prime Minister says, the President does not know. What is this problem?
A: The true situation is that President Sirisena wants us to join him and contest an election. Until that decision comes, he is postponing the election. He knows that if an election is held at this juncture, either the Alliance of the Podujana Peramuna or the alliance of the United National Party, one of the two will win; then it could be the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna or the Party of Thondaman and Digambaram. It could also be the Muslim Congress and if Maithripala falls into fifth or sixth place what would be the situation? The President would have to resign.
What is the action the Joint Opposition would take for the interim-injunction to postpone the election?
A: What we want is to hold the election. We will make a decision about that. I met Anura Kumara Dissanayake of the JVP. He said that if the election is being held they will get together with us.
Parliamentarian Ravi Karunanayake was directly accused at the Presidential Commission over the Bond issue. Why are you all not pressuring for legal action on it?
A: Ravi Karunanayake who gave up his ministerial post as the Minister of Finance is now a back bencher in Parliament, actually he should not be in Parliament but in the Welikada Prison.
There is a discussion about the UNP establishing three new High Courts?
A: It is apparent that they are trying to punish some of our Parliamentarians, before the elections. The target appears to be political revenge.
Are you such a staunch supporter and standing up for Mahinda Rajapaksa, because the two families are soon going to be related?
A: Not at all. My father and Mahinda Rajapaksa were very good friends from those days. On the day Mahinda Rajapaksa was defeated only Yoshitha and I were with him. That is the truth. When Mahinda finally went to Tangalle they asked for the house. It was into black garbage bags that Yoshitha and I packed Mahinda's clothing and put them into the Rosa bus. That is not relevant to, whether my daughter marries Mahinda's son or not.
I have directly told Mahinda Rajapaksa what wrongs he has committed according to his policies. I told him, Sir, if this happens again, I will leave.
Is a new Constitution necessary for the country?
A: Not necessary at all.
Why is that? It was stated in your Manifesto that Amendments to the Constitution were necessary?
A: Yes. Mahinda Rajapakssa said that he would like to move beyond 13 and talk about it. I am opposed to that too. How was the 13 Amendment brought? It was stuffed into the Constitution during the time of J. R. Jayewardene because India wanted the 13th Amendment. The 13th Amendment was not required by our country at all. Prior to bringing in this Amendment, the people of our country lived happily.
Then do you approve of Mahinda Rajapaksa bringing in the 18th Amendment, so that he could contest three times?
A: I do not approve of that either.
You all also said that the Executive Presidency should be abolished.
A: The post of Executive President should be abolished and the Federal System should be removed from the country. We do not need a Federal system in any way.
What is the deal that is said to exist between the JO and the UNP?
A: What deal? JO has no deal with UNP.
There is a direct accusation regarding Parliamentarian Wimal Weerawansa's Passport issue, the Prime Minister intervened?
A: What help? Wimal Weerawansa was in prison for approximately three months. What deals when we are being harassed and pushed against the wall and being pummelled? Mahinda is being told that he has a deal with the UNP and that he has a deal with Maithripala Sirisena too. What are these deals?
It seems as if the JO is involved in a three cornered battle, the three Rajapaksas are hoping for leadership. Isn't nepotism going to happen all over again?
A: See the accusations against Basil Rajapaksa. He may have had his faults. I will not say no. However, it was because he was there, that we were able to develop the country. He was a very good administrator. He knows how to get work out of people.
There were minor weaknesses. At the same time it was because of Gotabaya Rajapaksa that it was possible to end the war in this country. They may have had their faults. If you became the President of the country and there was a massive problem in the country, who would you trust first and foremost? Obviously someone of the family! At that time it was made use of. That situation will not occur again.
Pic by Dumindu Wanigasekera
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