UNP confident of sweeping victory - Deputy Minister Ajith P. Perera | Sunday Observer

UNP confident of sweeping victory - Deputy Minister Ajith P. Perera

Deputy Minister of Power and Renewable Energy Ajith P. Perera says, the UNP launched its campaign with a hundred percent success rate in submitting nominations and this is the best ever performance in the nomination process. In an interview with the Sunday Observer, the Deputy Minister said, the rejection of the UNP’s nominations is zero so that we are very confident that it is a good omen for the party’s landslide victory at the upcoming LG polls. This shows that the UNP is the strongest party in the country. We have fielded the best candidates, both, men and women, for the upcoming polls. Therefore, there is every reason for the UNP to be confident that it would secure a sweeping victory at the polls.

Excerpts:

Q. With various problems reported within the Government, will the National Unity Government be able to survive in its present form during the next three years?

A. There are some areas where we have some differences, but we have agreed hundred percent in almost all issues. Therefore, I can’t see any difficulty in continuing the Government to its full term.

The key stakeholders of the UNP and the SLFP are almost unanimous in key issues as the, Hambantota Port project, Mattala Airport, Colombo Port City project. Actually, there are no differences between the two major parties on serious subjects and even in other areas like foreign policy or social development projects.

Q.There are speculations that President Maithripala Sirisena would join hands with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa after the LG elections to form a probationary Government. Is there any truth in these reports?

A. There is no evidence to show such a development. I can’t see any logic behind such speculations.

Q. The unity talks between the SLFP and the JO seem to have broken down for the moment, but do you think they would try to get together in the near future? How will this affect the electoral fortunes of the UNP?

A. It is very natural. The SLFP is divided and it looks like permanent. But most of the members will try to have some kind of unity. However, serious differences within the leadership in both factions will not permit any kind of unity. That is my analysis. I can’t see any future with the JO. It is a temporary arrangement where many corrupt people join together and campaign against the Government. I can’t see any logic in President Maithripala Sirisena or the SLFP joining hands with these people.

Q.What do you think about the political crossovers now going on between the JO and the SLFP, and also within other parties? Do you think these crossovers would affect the election performance of the parties concerned?

A. Yes. The President is consolidating his power within the SLFP. The rebel SLFP group in the JO is breaking away and joining hands with the President. So naturally, the President will be able to have control over the SLFP parliamentary group.

Q. How will the new electoral system affect the different parties as the election is being held on the ward system without preferential votes?

A. This is a good system which is very practical. Under this system, the candidate has become more important and the party affiliation is a secondary factor.

The people will select the best person to serve their respective villages, not the best party with the best policy. The most capable, honest and popular candidates will be elected by the people. The UNP is equipped with such candidates and it is going to win almost all LG bodies.

Q.It was reported that many parties, noticeably the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna had many nomination lists rejected because they had not included the minimum quota of women. How do you create a better political culture in which young and professional women are given more opportunities to enter politics?

A. The best thing is to have a properly managed party. The UNP’s success rate in nominations is hundred percent. I think this is the best ever performance in the nomination process. Actually, I have to congratulate the UNP lawyers and others who supported this process. The rejection of our nominations is zero. We are very happy and can consider it as an important aspect towards a landslide victory at the upcoming LG polls.

Q. Are you happy with the delimitation process despite certain controversies such as, Ambagamuwa, Enderamulla and Akbar Town. What can be done to stop certain opportunistic politicians from using these to create ethnic tension?

A. It is not a hundred percent correct process. But we can correct each and every mistake. We can change the law and the demarcation, as well as the translation errors.

There is nothing we can’t do. We should understand this and be able to expose the attempts by some narrow minded people who are out to create ethnic tension.

Q.There are critics who say that having 8,000 local government body members will be a sheer waste of money as even the existing 4,000 members have failed to accomplish much in their areas. What is your comment on the doubling of the number of local councillors? Is it good or bad?

A. Certainly, this number is higher than we expected. But this is a new system and we have to elect members and test the new system.

We can’t compare the previous preferential system with this. Probably, the members elected under the new electoral system will serve their wards better. We have to first test the system and thereafter evaluate it.

Q. Many candidates are still trying to bribe voters despite the Sil Redi verdict and the Election Commission’s warning not to distribute consumer goods among the voters. Do you think there should be stricter laws in this regard?

A. Actually, laws are there. But the issue is the existing political culture. I think under the new electoral system, it would be difficult to mislead the voters.

They are educated enough to elect suitable candidates. However, distribution of goods will be found, and we should try to minimize such things. But the results may not depend on the distribution of consumer goods.

Q. There is a general trend to take to strike action ahead of the LG polls. How is the Government responding to this strike wave? Is there a hidden political hand behind these strikes?

A. Yes. The JO and the JVP are working very hard to disrupt the country during the elections and create some sort of momentum for their campaigns. I think the Government will be very strict on this as it has some information on attempts at sabotage.

Q. There are allegations that corruption probes against the previous regime have been deliberately slowed down due to certain deals between the Government and leading members of the previous regime. What is your comment?

A. No. I don’t agree. Now we are working on these delays. We have already passed laws to increase the number of judges from 75 to 110 which is a 45 percent increase of High Court judges. Last week, we were able to increase the salaries of those attached to the Attorney General’s Department and the Judiciary.

That would give the Judiciary and the Attorney General’s Department the much needed confidence and comfort. We are also going to establish three anti-corruption High Courts, which the Cabinet approved three weeks ago. We will be able to pass this law in January next year.

I am sure we will have a special process to prosecute the corrupt. We are on the correct path, especially, on legal affairs, and the anti-corruption committee in Parliament in which I too am a member is working on this specific issue at the moment. 

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