Ven. Rathana Thera confident of his campaign for a just society: ‘I will continue to be honest while in the govt.’ | Sunday Observer

Ven. Rathana Thera confident of his campaign for a just society: ‘I will continue to be honest while in the govt.’

What do we make of the unilateral declaration by Ven.Rathna Thera that he will act independently in Parliament? Ven. Thera was literally unseen for over a year before he broke his silence on January 26 to say that he has decided so, although he would not shift camps, yet. Even after a week into his announcement, everyone is still in a dilemma as to what to expect next. Many predictions have been made. While the ‘offended’ on the same side say, Rathana thera should step out before criticizing the government, the Joint Opposition claimed, he is playing the role of the Pied Piper – to bring back the masses rallying round the MR camp.

After this announcement, Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) Deputy Chairman Ven.Hadigalle Wimalasara Thera said, if he so wishes Ven.Rathana Thera must first resign from his parliamentary seat. According to Ven.Hedigalle Thera, prior to his appointment under the UNP National List, Ven. Rathana Thera had agreed to relinquish his parliament seat if he wished to remain independent. Therefore, he must complement his good intentions returning the parliament seat, he said.

As to this probability Ven.thera has already sufficed an answer. At the press conference where he broke his silence, Ven.Rathana thera made it clear that he was not hoping to leave the government, yet.

Former leader of JHU, Ven.Omalpe Sobhitha Thera at a press conference held earlier, more or less emphasised the JHU Deputy Chairman’s point of view.

‘If he wants to call the shots against any party, it would be more meaningful if he would first leave their fold,’ he stressed. He said, Ven.Athuraliye Rathana Thera was the pioneer of the rainbow revolution which brought in a regime change on January 8, 2015. This is a fact accepted by the whole country.

He said, it was obvious that there are issues within the government, the new constitution in the making, the economic policy, etc.

“Our blessings are with him, we believe, he would take some concrete action to address these issues,” Ven.Sobitha Thera said.

Speaking to the Sunday Observer on Thursday, Ven. Rathana thera had this to say, ”What I said a week ago was my independent opinion. I will continue to express my honest view while remaining in the government. My opinion will no longer be a sugar coated pill nor would I choose to remain silent in instances of injustice and corruption.”

Sounding defiant, the thera said, he was confident that his campaign for a just society, eradicating all forms of corruption, and nepotism will succeed. “I have spoken to many like minded groups and individuals. They are very enthusiastic about this campaign and welcomed my stance. I have their blessings. Not all those who rallied round the rainbow revolution are with me. There are extreme left elements and NGOs,” he said, adding that many of the like minded have chosen to support his campaign.

He had not consulted the President or the Prime Minister before he went public on his decision and he did not believe it was necessary. Ven. Rathana thera said, he was expressing his honest opinion about the current state of affairs in certain sectors of the government. “I did not need any special permission to do that.” However, the thera said, there is still hope and his intention is to correct the course, not to give leadership to a campaign to topple the government.

Former JHU leader who resigned last year,Ven. Omalpe Sobhitha thera said, if his good intentions are to be meaningful, he should first step out and relinquish all his positions within the government. He said, he appreciated the decision of Ven.Rathana thera to speak against the injustices of the government. Ven.Sobhitha succeeded Ven.Ellawala Medhananda thera in 2010 and resigned from the JHU leadership after the party contested from the UNP ticket and joined forces with the government. He had been a nonentity in public domain ever since.

Asked if anyone had sought his resignation from the government, Ven.Rathana thera said, he has not been approached by anyone on that prospect so far.

However, on Thursday evening his party made its stance clear. The press conference where the JHU Deputy Chairman sought his resignation from the parliament seat was also attended by JHU National Organiser and Spokesperson, Nishantha Warnasinghe.

When the Sunday Observer queried why he delayed raising concerns over the new constitution that is in the making, Ven.Rathanathera said “I have to see some sort of draft before I make any remark and know if that (new constitution) is agreeable or not.”

He added, “Still this process is in the early stages, there needs to be a lot of deliberations before a final document can be put forth. I cannot say that what has been proposed so far will fulfil our aspirations.” During the press conference he made a scathing attack on the alleged moves to abolish the executive presidency which he said gives stability to a widely polarised country and keep separatist elements at bay.

In a column written to a newspaper, editor and famed columnist Malinda Seneviratne who had known and closely associated with Rathana thera since 1990, and had also shared a police cell in which they were both beaten up in 1992, opines,‘Rathana Hamuduruwo is one of the key individuals who could at any given moment alter equations and change the political direction of the entire country.’

But he warns, “Ven.Athureliya Rathana Thera has been deservedly accused of lacking in organizational discipline. He is outcome-focused and sometimes he sets multiple destinations for himself and therefore, leaves followers stranded high and dry.”

The thera who as a student took part in Inter University Student Federation

activities had been a leading figure in several political movements; Ratawesi Peramuna, Janatha Mithuro, National Movement Against Terrorism, Sihala Urumaya, Jathika Hela Urumaya and Pivithuru Hetak Movement.

The main partners of the government, the UNP and the SLFP, have yet to speak publicly on Ven.Rathana Thera’s decision.

Especially, the UNP, from which party he was brought to Parliament, can initiate action on the loss of confidence leading to his expulsion. But, the two main parties thus far have largely remained silent over the matter, even though the JHU, his own party seems to have declared open war.

Bar Association (BASL) President Geoffrey Alagaratnam, referring to Ven.Rathana thera’s decision said, the more apt question is not whether Ven.Rathana thera can be ousted following his public remarks, but if it’s morally and ethically right for the thera to remain in their fold after his scathing attack on government projects.

He said, in the backdrop of former Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva’s judgement, reinstating a number of MPs who defected the UNP in the past,was not easy for a political party to deprive the parliamentary seat of a dissident.

”All guys are feathering their own nests. Today, we have a very pathetic situation. There is a coalition government, of which all partners are contradicting each other, without allowing the Prime Minister or the President to speak for the government. There is a total breakdown of discipline and the clergy and the police determine the government policy.”

“This is clearly a sad state of affairs,” he said.

Comments

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.