Will one set of rogues punish another set of rogues?
By Anuradha Herath
Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna Central Committee Member and Uva Provincial Councillor Samantha Vidyaratne says that if anyone thinks that this Government will punish the wrongdoers in the Treasury Bond scam, his head has to be examined.
Is the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) trying to kill two birds with one stone by fielding two Independent Groups for the Local Government election?
A: We have fielded two Independent Groups, one for Bandarawela Pradeshiya Sabha and the other for Bandarawela Urban Council because both Mahinda administration and Ranil-Maithri administration have harassed the people in those areas, by denying their basic civil rights such as drinkable water and livable housing. Also they have demolished temples, schools and have destroyed their farmlands. What we want is to engage in a herculean struggle that no environmental organization has enforced until now and transfer the power which is relaxing in the hands of the rulers to the hands of the environmental warriors.
Is it because the JVP cannot win alone that you have fielded two Independent Groups?
A: No. I am certain that it's from the Bandarawela area that we can acquire more votes than anywhere else for our symbol (bell), at this election, owing to the fact that we were engaged in a colossal combat for almost ten years against the Uma Oya project.
What we did was in order to serve justice to the affected and to thwart the Uma Oya project being implemented we did engage in an arduous struggle along with the Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, UNPers, and SLFPers, irrespective of our races and parties.
If an allegation is made that you are trying to come to power using the tears and the sufferings of the people?
A: We reject that allegation. If so we could have contested solely as JVP.
Why was the Provincial Council silent, while such an unfortunate thing was happening?
A: That should be asked from those who were soundless. At that point we were the noisiest. Everybody knows that.
If these two Independent Groups come to power will it be the Independent Groups' opinion or the JVP's opinion that will be implemented?
A: Uma Oya organization represents a number of parties. So, we don't have any intention to restrict it only to JVP's solo opinions.
This project was enacted according to a decision of the Central Government. Can it be stopped in the future?
A: Our firm stand is, this is a destructive project. So, the destruction has to be stopped. If there are issues with regard to access to water in these specific areas, similar to Hambantota, Wellawaya and Thanamalwila, we should look into alternatives but we don't see this project is the appropriate remedy to the water issues faced by the people of those areas. Further, it has affected not only this area but also the entire eastern slope of the Central Highlands.
Is there a charge that it was when the leader of your party Anura Kumara Dissanayake was the Minister of Irrigation that the contract for this project was endorsed?
A: There is a saying in our country that defeat is an illegitimate child and victory has a hundred fathers. Likewise certain leaders who have inaugurated destructive projects such as this and also those who have laid a foundation stone illegally and pocketed Rs 76,320 million by signing an agreement with Iran, are saying that it is not theirs. If by any chance this project had become a gainful one, will Mahinda Rajapaksa say it is not his project and Anura Kumara Dissanayake should get the credit for it? It is no one else but Mahinda Rajapaksa who has to take the prime responsibility for this. But when he got defeated the physical progress of this project was 15%. Now it is more than 80%. So, 65% of this project was done under the Ranil-Maithri administration.Therefore, they too should bear responsibility for this destruction.
Don't you see this project as something good for the country?
A: No. That is why we named this a multi-destructive project. The destruction is multi-fold. By now the destruction has spread to seven Divisional Secretariat Divisions. Some 7,555 houses have got cracked, 526 families have been evacuated from the areas, 3,412 tanks, fountains, ponds and waterfalls have completely dried up. Some 7,633 families are without drinking water. Further, 22 temples and other religious places destroyed and furthermore 22 school buildings and 18 family health centre buildings have got damaged. The number of roads that have sunk is 146. The number of business premises damaged is 336. Lands to the extent of 10,302 acres have been rendered uncultivable. The number of families that have undergone miscellaneous inconveniences is 20,222. The total population affected is over 100,000.
You were engaged in a number of agitations and were you able to get at least some compensation for the people?
A: By now 10% of our requests have been honoured. We have got 76 water bowsers but there are no drivers for 11 of those. We have got nearly 12,000 plastic water tanks. We have been able to get Rs 460,000,000 for houses and Rs 330,000,000 for cultivations, as compensation.
Although you ask for power in the village, have the people placed their confidence in JVP politics?
A: The people have lost confidence in the Government. They have lost faith in Mahinda. But still they have confidence in the JVP. Last time at the 2015 Presidential and General Elections Mahinda was rejected due to his corrupt administration and series of frauds.
But doesn't the Coalition Government which came into power hold the responsibility of punishing those fraudsters?
A: We ask the people whether the promises given to them by the leaders have been kept. Not one rogue has been caught. One set of rogues has been replaced by another set of rogues.
You said that you showed by example about village development at Tissamaharama but do the people remember anything like that?
A: We don't blame the people of our country. We have over 90% literacy but comparatively our political literacy is very low. Even the learned people are the same. We can see very learned people hanging around politicians. They don't think about the country.
They look for position or money. However, now the people are suffering and their political literacy has increased. We can catch the results on 10 February.
Are you confident that you'll get such power this time?
A: Definitely. The people's memories are good. Cunning politicians know about this. That's why they feared the election. They tried to postpone the election, to the maximum.
They went even to Courts to halt the election. That shows that this election is not favourable for them.
In 2010 the JVP had the people's support but is it the same now?
A: Even there were signs in 2015 too, that the JVP is having a considerable support.
Wasn't the JVP in fear that the Frontline Socialist Party would come for the election?
A: There is nothing to talk about it. Some political parties are short-lived. It's a dead party now.
What are the reasons for you to urge for power in the village?
A: We need to make it clear to the people that the President is not performing his tasks to the expected level; correspondingly, the government is not making the grade although it was given the power.
Most Local Government institutions are under performing. So, we ask the people to give us the power. We will tell them that we will do the same as we did at Tissamaharama. Looking at the village they can give the power to the JVP in 2020 to develop the country.
The JVP played a big role in electing this Government to power but isn't it behaving now as if it didn't do so?
A: That's a wrong idea. The JVP is not tied with a contract with anybody. We are aiming at getting power for ourselves in the intention of implementing Leftist policies in the country. We do not want to give power to Mahinda or to Ranil. We want to bring the people to power. We will engage in that struggle today and tomorrow until we win and we will win.
: Whatever you say the people think that the JVP has also become another traditional political party?
A: When the world marches forward a political party should equally go forward. Otherwise a party will become dull. That party will not last if it cannot fulfil the requirements of the contemporary society.
: Some people say the JVP, while showing it's with the Opposition, it is actually propping up the Government?
A: That's wrong. There are many who propped up. We have been adopting various strategies in the past to suit the needs of the country, not to get portfolios.
But isn't there a grave allegation that there is a deal between your party leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe?
A: People can make any amount of such allegations. However, such allegations have to be proved. It is those who make such allegations who have deals with Ranil Wickremesinghe. Mahinda has deals and Weerawansa has transactions.
They have been covering up their frauds and corruptions by such connections. Not punishing them shows that they are pals.
The Bond Commission Report was out. Will the law be implemented on it?
A: As far as we know a large number of such reports have been revealed throughout the recent history in this country. But such reports couldn't produce any results as desired. It is no use putting out heaps of mere papers to hoodwink the public. So, immediate action has to be taken against the corrupters in this present government and the past too. The new corrupters and the old corrupters have got together to cover up their frauds and corruptions. We can expect punishment for those who have found guilty only in a corruption free administration. Will one set of corrupters punish another set of corrupters?
So, do you mean to say that no legal action will be taken in respect of those transactions under yahapalanaya?
A: If anyone thinks that this Government will punish the wrongdoers, his head has to be examined.
Will the Bonds scam have an impact on the election?
A: Yes definitely it will influence the election in a big way. There is a controversy with regard to the Bonds Scam as well as the frauds that have been committed before.
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