Mahinda cannot destroy Maithri
By Prageeth Sampath Karunatilaka
Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne says Mahinda Rajapaksa never thought that he would leave the SLFP, even during the last stages. "He thought that Rajitha would never give up on him, as he believed we were such good friends. But we are in politics. We came to engage in politics. Therefore, political decisions have to be made. On the day there is no politics, the friendship will flourish again," he said in an interview.
The two main parties are battling on election platforms, fighting, trying to kill each other. It seems as if the journey of co-existence, of the two parties, is over and done with. What has really happened?
A: There is the question, whether; there is anyone to do a clear analysis of the Bonds scam. When I asked the top economic analysts, in the country, what they said was, though they had an in-depth knowledge of the science of economics Treasury Bonds were quite a different subject. These transactions are handled by those who deal in those transactions and the economists said that they cannot make a deep analysis regarding this, when you consider that, no one can actually say how much the loss from the Bonds Scam is.
Are you satisfied with the Commission's Report?
A: When the Presidential Commission was appointed it was not to inquire into people's houses and to track each and everyone's telephone calls. What we had to find out initially was how much of an impact the Bonds transactions had on our economy.
Are you saying that those telephone calls and purchases of houses were correct?
A: No. All those are secondary. What this Commission was asked to do was, even bring experts from abroad, do an analysis and submit a proper Report to the country. Now, the Commission is saying that, in order to inquire into the exact financial loss, an investigation has to be conducted by bringing in experts. I mentioned that at the beginning.
It is said that a loss of 11 billion rupees was incurred due to the bonds transactions. However, at present Rs12 billion of assets belonging to the Aloysius family have been frozen. Then there will be no loss to the country. The entire amount can be recovered.
By saying that, are you trying to make the Government's task simple?
A: No. When this problem arose, the President and the Prime Minister both wanted it investigated. The Prime Minister presented this question to COPE. Then he referred it to the Attorney General for legal action. If the Prime Minister had robbed from the Bonds scam he would not have appointed a member of the JVP as the Chairman of COPE; it was not as if there were no suitable individuals in either the UNP or the SLFP. He did it to inquire into problems in Government Service, to obtain an honest verdict.
On the other hand, the President appointed a Presidential Commission for this. Now that Report is out. It is without seeing it, that some are shouting.
Is it correct for the Prime Minister, himself, to summon Parliament and then not present the Report?
A: There are no reports of the events that took place that day, not even a commission. Even then the Government of Good Governance promised to release the Report. There are 1257 pages in that Report. A report cannot be presented in English. The Report has to be submitted to Parliament in the State language -in Sinhala and Tamil. Then on the advice of lawyers the President presented a summary of the Report. Just because that was released they are shouting that the complete Report is not being handed to them. There is something I have to say to those who are saying this. During the Treasury bonds transactions that took place from 2008-2014 worse corruption and fraud has taken place and the country has suffered a loss of about 4,000 billion. Those amounts cannot be recovered. Therefore, another commission has to be appointed to recover that 4,000 billion.
Good Governance was brought in to eradicate corruption; but, Good Governance too has robbed?
A: Only one. There is only one to talk about. It is those who stole millions who are shouting now, like heroes. When Arjuna Mahendran was being appointed as the Governor of the Central Bank, I repeatedly told the Prime Minister not to do it. But the Prime Minister accepts people. During the 2002 Government when Mahendran was with the BOI, I am aware of what he did.
That is why I told the Prime Minister not to appoint someone like him to the Central Bank. I told him, if a person who had engaged in corruption in a smaller role, if given the Central Bank, what could he, not do! The Prime Minister then said it was his Ministry and that the responsibility rests with him and that if Mahendran engaged in any wrongdoing that he would be thrown out.
By the time the Prime Minister got rid of him, Arjuna Mahendran had already done wrong and a black mark added to the Government. But today he has been removed and action has been taken. There are no governments, in the world, free of fraud and corruption. That is the truth.
There are accusations that the President is engaged in a contract to destroy the UNP?
A: I am also in the UNP front, as at present. The President has no such need and the Prime Minister is aware of that more than anyone else. Whatever those of the lower rungs, on both sides, may say the President and the Prime Minister act with understanding. Even though, a copy of the Bond Commission Report was not given to the Prime Minister, the President talks over everything with the Prime Minister, before doing something.
We left the SLFP to bring about change in the country. It was the Prime Minister who spoke of a journey with the SLFP and it was then that the SLFP provided support. Once the SLFP was taken on, the leader of the SLFP has to protect the Party. Then President has to act as the leader of the SLFP.
The President does not need to attack the UNP. The main enemies of the President are the Rajapaksas.
UNP says it will establish a new Government on 10 February, then what you are saying turns out to be wrong.
A: Then they could have done it before this too, at the very beginning. When they could not form a Government then, how could they do it today? All of those are false stories. They are stories that highlight immaturity in politics.
Is this an attempt by the Joint Opposition to get together with the SLFP? That is the opinion at village level.
A: In instances where nominations of the JO were rejected, Mahinda Rajapaksa was asked whether they would support the SLFP. They said, no. Will we get together with such people? Does Mahinda want to defeat Ranil? Or does he want to defeat Maithri? That is what we are looking at. If they join Maithri, there would be thoughts of whether Maithri is weak or not. Mahinda cannot finish off Maithri. He is trying to show that Maithri is finished; that is to gather the people who are around Maithri and then attack Ranil.
Mahinda is not a baby in politics. That has to be understood when we act. Both sides act, while stirring political conspiracies.
Who will win this election?
A: I cannot say anything just yet. However, there is a big reawakening among us. We were being suppressed by media propaganda. But with this election, the UNPers have joined in with great enthusiasm. At the same time SLFPers are also, of late, rallying around the Party.
There is still no room for a third force, in the country, but it seems, as if the Flower Bud might become that third force?
A: I too tried to establish a third force in the country and it didn't work. Can people such as G. L. Peiris establish a third force in the country? Lalith, Gamini set up alternatives for the UNP. You saw what happened to those! Finally, only the UNP and the SLFP remained.
Whatever the election result, UNP-SLFP Local Government bodies will be formed?
A: Yes. Once again it will be a UNP-SLFP Government that will be established.
Are you satisfied with the three years of Good Governance?
A: Yes. What the Government of Good Governance did during the past three years has never been done by any other Government. It was Good Governance that took the Prime Minister to the Bond Commission to give evidence. That was how our Government worked.
Former ministers, who were in the then Cabinet, should also be held responsible for the wrong doings, during the time of the Alliance Government. Today, the stories they say, on joining the Government, are amazing. Are there answers to the story the former President is relating?
A: I have answered him enough and more. At that time, how many newspapers published it, in how many places. At the beginning President Maithripala Sirisena was suspicious about me; thinking that I was a plant of Mahinda Rajapaksa's. Those who know about my past are aware of, who I am; even President Maithripala had told several people to be careful in dealing with me.
I criticized Mahinda Rajapaksa within the Cabinet and outside as well, in public. I openly criticized Mahinda Rajapaksa in the Cabinet. There was a constant battle between us. Finally, Mahinda accepts what I say. At the end of the Cabinet sessions he comes out with his arm around my shoulders. Then others wonder why, after all what I have said, why Mahinda Rajapaksa does not take action against me. The answer Mahinda gives is that Rajitha cannot be changed. I have known this man from the 80s, and that I am saying things which I have been saying from those days.
Mahinda never thought that I would leave the SLFP, even during the last stages he thought this was how I was. He thought that Rajitha would never give up on him, as he believed we were such good friends. But we are in politics. We came to engage in politics. Therefore, political decisions have to be made. On the day there is no politics, the friendship will flourish again.
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