Two parties with different ideologies will never work together - Parliamentarian Chandima Weerakkody | Sunday Observer

Two parties with different ideologies will never work together - Parliamentarian Chandima Weerakkody

UPFA Galle District Parliamentarian Chandima Weerakkody
UPFA Galle District Parliamentarian Chandima Weerakkody

UPFA Galle District Parliamentarian Chandima Weerakkody says that the National Unity Government ended up in total failure because two major parties with two different ideologies cannot, in practice function together in the Sri Lankan political context. The opinion of most Sri Lankans is that such ‘political experiments’ are not workable. In an interview with the Sunday Observer,he said that in fact this is not the first time such a coalition was experimented with. It is obvious that the people of SriLanka need a party and a Government that is ready to take the Middle Path.

Extracts of his interview -

Q: What is the SLFP’s stand on the 7 member Bench Supreme Court judgement, delivered on Thursday? Are there any constitutional implications?

A: We have to accept the interpretation given by the Supreme Court because the power to interpret the Constitution is vested in it. At the same time, we have an issue - Of course, the rights of the 225 members elected by the people are protected because their positions will continue for another one and a half years. But at the same time, we are not in a position to answer the questions being posed by the people who elected us. As we are the representatives of the people, they expected an election to determine the way forward. But we are not in a position to give an explanation. According to them, we are exercising the rights that they have vested in us at an elect ion. So there is a difficulty that we are facing.

Q: Do you think the 19 th Amendment needs any critical reexamination in the larger interest of the country?

A: Well, I hope so. We have to sit together and look into the amendments that should be brought in to have a strong Government. Whoever comes to power should be able to govern the country. In order to achieve that we should have Constitutional safeguards for those who are elected.

Q: What was the decision arrived on Friday during the UPFA Parliamentary Group meeting chaired by the President. Did the President agree to give the Premiership to Ranil Wickremesinghe?

A: That was not discussed at the meeting. But Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said that he would step down from the Prime Minister’s position and subsequent to that the President said he will not work with the UNP politically, under any circumstances, but he will perform his Constitutional duties as President.

Q: Rather than patching up the present Constitution, would it not be better to have an entirely new Constitution for the country?

A: The idea of a new Constitution raised a sort of phobia in the country because the drafters of the new Constitution aimed at a Federal form of Government which is not acceptable to the majority of the people. The solution lies where all Sri Lankans will be able to live in harmony protecting the unitary State and the rights of the majority community, while accommodating the aspirations of the minority. I believe as an elected member when the majority community is not comfortable, reconciliation among all communities will not be possible. Because the moment the majority community feels threatened they will stand in the way of a solution. So we must be mindful of the Sri Lankan context and the Sri Lankan situation whereas most people attempt to draft a Constitution under foreign influence. They are trying to replicate various parts of Constitutions brought from various other countries which may not fit in with our culture and systems. Drafting of a Constitution involves a process of looking at things regionally, socially, culturally and the country as a whole.

Q: What will be the future of the JVP’s role in National politics considering the allegation by some people that it has aligned with capitalist forces?

A: It is so unfortunate that due to the conduct of the JVP in the recent past the people have got the impression that they are a cat’s-paw of the UNP and various external forces.The JVP always believes in extreme leftist thinking.

Q: The President himself has alleged that MPs were being traded for huge sums of money. Shouldn’t this be investigated as it is very bad for democracy and the country at large?

A: That is something that should be done forthwith. This is a serious allegation because the people elected the representatives to give effect to their views and expectations. But when they feel that it is not happening, they stress the need for an election. That shows the voter community has no confidence in the 225 elected members as they are allegedly traded for very high amounts of money.

Q: The TNA due to its very nature, would not have supported Ranil Wickremesinghe other than to secure their own interests. Would you like to enlighten us on this?

A: The TNA has always had splits within the party. TNA’s elitism and its elitist Colombo community always prefer to toe the UNP line, whereas their factions, who represent the people of the North, think otherwise. So this clash of cultures has always been there. One of the reasons for an uprising in the North was due to this kind of politicking by the majority of Tamil politicians. If you look at the Tamil politicians the majority of them operate from Colombo. They are Colombo based and distanced from the thinking of the Northern community. As a result of this there was a vacuum for a person like Prabhakaran to become a terrorist. I must say this trend is not very healthy when you look at the Tamil community representation in the North.

Q: Have the SLFP and SLPP arrived at a broad alliance to defeat their common enemy-the UNP at future elections? Any differences between two parties would not be in the interests of their future. Your comments?

A: That was the crux of the discussion that we had on Friday. It is opportune to move forward as a broader alliance with better a better understanding of political realities. Most of the regional leaders when implementing the decisions taken at the national level give priority to their personal vote base and their other preferences. This has created an issue when achieving what is expected by the country and the people at large.

They have become so petty-minded that some of them have begun to think in terms of ‘cults’. This is not healthy at all for the future of a broader alliance.

Q: Political analysts say the Referendum to hold a General Elections is the panacea for all political ills in the country at this juncture. Do you agree?

A: I think the people have had enough of politicking for the time being. They need someone who can properly govern the country.As I have said, either the UNP or the SLFP should govern the country. Ranil Wickremesinghe says he has the majority and Mahinda Rajapaksa has decided to step down leaving the opportunity for whoever commands the majority to take over the Government.

Q: The UNP has expressed the opinion that a Presidential Election should be the answer. Do you agree with this view? If not why?

A: That is a petty political suggestion. The issue is before Parliament. Even if there is a Presidential Election and change of the Presidency, it is very clear that the present Parliament has to continue till 2020. Under these circumstances, it is an absurd political statement to gain political mileage. It is no solution for people’s problems as it will certainly aggravate the situation.

Q: Do you think with the failure of the National Unity Government such coalitions will never be capable of producing the anticipated results?

A: The National Unity Government ended up in failure. Two parties with two different ideologies cannot function together practically in the Sri Lankan political culture. The opinion of most Sri Lankans is that such ‘political experiments’ will not be tolerated.

Q: The President has said the National Unity Government was impossible as there was a clash of ideologies- Western and Local. Do you agree?

A: That is exactly what I meant even in my previous answer. Two parties with different ideologies will not be able to work together in the Sri Lankan context.

Actually this is not the first time such a thing was tried. Earlier there was (a similar) attempt between the SLFP and the JVP which also failed.

It is obvious the people of Sri Lanka need a party and a Government that is ready to work following Middle Path. You can understand that all extremities are rejected by the people.