‘Even though I was sacked, I stuck to my party’ | Sunday Observer

‘Even though I was sacked, I stuck to my party’

Minister, Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe
Minister, Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe

The new Higher Education and Cultural Affairs Minister, Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe says, he was one of the main persons responsible for ousting former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his Government. In an interview with the Sunday Observer, the Minister said if he had wished to join former President Rajapaksa again, he would not have left his Government in 2011 and joined the then Opposition. He said, he is not a person to go after anybody seeking positions, posts or favours, and that he takes his decisions based solely on principle. The sole purpose of the No Confidence Motion against the Prime Minister was to destabilize the country and nobody could tolerate such nonsense.

Minister Rajapakshe said, on principle, he didn’t want to change his policies just because he was sacked from his Ministerial portfolio. He said he never had any differences, dispute or conflict with the Leader.

The only issue was that he went against the Cabinet decision on the Hambantota Port issue, and that was the reason why he was removed from his portfolio. Commenting on the recent changes in the UNP top positions, Minister Rajapakshe said, they are party decisions and if the UNP Working Committee takes a decision, it is incumbent on them to abide by the decisions.

Q. There was a lot of speculation that you would join former President Mahinda Rajapaksa for your political activities after you were sacked from the post of Justice Minister. However, you voted against the No Confidence Motion and now you have become a Minister, again. Can you explain this course of events?

A. People may have various speculations, but I do not accommodate such speculations.

I am a person doing politics on principle. If I had to rejoin former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, I would not have left his Government in 2011, when I gave up my portfolio, quit the Government and joined the Opposition. So, what is the reason that I should rejoin him? I am one of the main persons responsible for ousting Mahinda Rajapaksa and his Government.

I am not one to go after anybody seeking positions and posts. I take decisions based solely on principle. The No Confidence Motion against the Prime Minister was an absolute joke.

Because Mahinda Rajapaksa doesn’t want to become the Prime Minister, at the same time he wanted to oust the incumbent Prime Minister. The sole purpose of the NCM is to destabilise the country. I don’t tolerate such nonsense.

Q. Despite all the allegations and mudslinging, you didn’t leave the UNP. What made you stick to the party regardless of the many attacks against you?

A. I was one of the main persons instrumental in safeguarding the leadership of the Prime Minister when we were in the Opposition. I was also instrumental in sponsoring President Maithripala Sirisena as the Common Candidate as we had a lot of expectations to be realised for the benefit of the country. On principle, I didn’t want to change my policies just because I was sacked from my Ministerial portfolio.

Even when they were going to remove me from my portfolio, I maintained my decision. After they realized it the President and the Prime Minister invited me and said they needed my services.

My voters in the Colombo district, particularly, the UNP voters, members of the Maha Sagha and clergy requested me to accept a portfolio and render some service to the country.

Consequently, I thought there’s no purpose in wasting my time idling, after being elected as a Member of Parliament. Hence, I decided to positively respond to the request and accepted the portfolio.

Q. Does this mean that you have settled any differences you had with the UNP leadership on various issues?

A. I never had any differences, dispute or conflict with the Leader. The only issue was that I went against the Cabinet decision on the Hambantota Port issue. That was the reason I was removed from my portfolio.

Q. Are you satisfied with the recent changes in the UNP? Will they be enough to take the party to victory at a future election?

A. It is not a question of my satisfaction. If the party hierarchy takes a decision, I will abide by that and we will ensure that we will win the next election.

Q. There are allegations that a set of people have juggled around in the recent UNP appointments. Would you like to see more young people being groomed for bigger positions within the UNP?

A. Those are party decisions. If the UNP Working Committee takes a decision, we have to abide by those decisions. That is all.

Q. The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) has emerged strong at the recent LG polls and 16 SLFP Ministers have also joined the Opposition. Do you think the reorganisation of the UNP will lead to the defeat of the SLPP at a future election?

A. The Pohottuwa is a mushroom. Its survival depends on the popularity of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa who led the country towards the war victory. Due to the nature of certain issues, there was also a protest vote against the present regime. But when it comes to a crucial point, these LG election results will not have any impact.

Q. Are you personally happy with the latest Cabinet reshuffle of the National Unity Government, and do you think the subjects have been distributed in a scientific manner as promised by the President and the Prime Minister?

A. I think so. But, the Gazette notification has not been released, yet. My understanding is that they have done that according to certain policies.

Q. Are you satisfied with your portfolio? There are lots of problems in the Higher Education sector. What are your immediate plans for this important sector?

A. Yes, though of course, there are problems and conflicts which need solutions in the public interest.

Q. Despite becoming a Cabinet Minister again, would you still be critical of the Government if the situation so demands?

A. Actually, I was not critical of the Government. I was critical of a policy, a Cabinet decision.

It is not a critical situation relating to the Government. I was only critical of some particular transaction.

Q. There are many opinions that a fresh Parliamentary Election is necessary to end the current political crisis. What is your view on this?

A. Those who cannot understand the Constitution are taking up such positions. Under the Constitution, unless a Resolution is passed with a two thirds majority in Parliament, the President cannot dissolve the Government.

It’s a joke talking about dissolving Parliament knowing very well that it cannot be done constitutionally.

Q. Do you think the National Unity Government will be able to go on for another two years given the current political developments where many SLFP members have aligned themselves with the SLPP?

A. That is not an issue at all. There is no impact on the Government as a result of their departure. The Government will complete its full term.

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