Gota’s advent into politics has nothing to do with his family : Duminda | Sunday Observer

Gota’s advent into politics has nothing to do with his family : Duminda

Duminda Dissanayake
Duminda Dissanayake

SLFP National Organiser MP Duminda Dissanayake said the SLFP has not aligned with the SLPP but only decided to extend their support to ensure the victory of SLPP Presidential Candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The individual Gotabaya Rajapaksa mattered to us more, so that we decided to extend our full support to him.

In an interview with the Sunday Observer the SLFP frontliner said despite this alliance both the SLFP and the SLPP will maintain their separate identities. The SLFP would not leave any room to have its persona eroded despite the alliance with the SLPP. “We have no idea whatsoever of leaving the party supporters in the lurch who safeguarded the SLFP during recent crucial times standing firmly by the party and the President.”

Q: It appears that you have decided to support Gotabaya Rajapaksa which means that you have reconciled all your differences with the SLPP. Could you elaborate?

A: At this juncture when the SLFP doesn’t field its own candidate, our party high command has decided Gotabaya Rajapaksa as the most suitable candidate who can address the grassroots and secure victory at the upcoming Presidential Election.

Q: Why did not the SLFP field a Presidential Candidate when it already has a good vote base?

A: As a party we use different strategies at different elections. We contest some elections and don’t contest others. For example, at the last Presidential Election, President Maithripala Sirisena contested under ‘swan’ symbol while he was the SLFP General Secretary. When it comes to the Parliamentary election, we contested separately. Therefore, when we look at the SLFP’s history of contesting elections, it is clear that we have used various strategies at different elections.

Q: Don’t you think that you eventually made a wise decision, otherwise the future of the SLFP would have been bleak?

A: Sometimes, one may look at it in that perspective. The SLPP and SLFP on Thursday (October 10) signed a MoU to form a political alliance. That MoU has clearly mentioned that we would contest all future elections from Sri Lanka Nidahas Podujana Sandhanaya under the symbol, chair. Despite this alliance both the SLFP and SLPP will maintain their separate identities. However, the SLFP would not leave any room to have its strength eroded despite our alliance with the SLPP.

Q: Are there still SLFP MPs to join hands with the UNP or have SLFP MPs decided to support Gotabaya Rajapaksa wholesale?

A: This decision to support Gotabaya Rajapaksa was taken at the SLFP’s Central Committee meeting on Tuesday (October 08) but still we have not been able to educate all our party members on this. At the Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s inaugural election rally launched at Anuradhapura on Wednesday (October 09), I categorically stated that we would extend our fullest support to SLPP Presidential Candidate. We signed a MoU with the SLPP on Thursday (October 10) and we also summoned on the same day all our electoral organisers and conveyed this message to them so that we could strengthen the periphery. We hope to educate the Party’s local government members and the supporters through our electoral organisers.

Q: Some SLFPers hold the view that the decision to support Gotabaya Rajapaksa is the beginning of the gradual erosion of the SLFP. Your comments?

A: When we have reached consensus with the SLPP to support its Presidential Candidate, we would not leave any room to erode the SLFP. There is a large number SLFPers together with President Maithripala Sirisena who safeguarded the SLFP right through. Therefore, we bear the responsibility to protect them in the interest of the party. We have no idea whatsoever of leaving the party supporters in the lurch- people who safeguarded the SLFP during recent crucial times standing firmly by the party and the President.

Q: Would you like to elaborate on the statement made by your General Secretary Dayasiri Jayasekara that the SLFP supports only Gotabaya Rajapaksa but not the Pohottuwa?

A: We have not aligned with the SLPP. We only decided to extend our support to ensure the victory of SLPP Presidential Candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa. We would never join the SLPP. More than anything else, it is the particular individual Gotabaya Rajapaksa to whom we extend our full support.

Q: Prof. Rohana Lakshman Piyadasa has been appointed as the acting SLFP President leaving the present incumbent to remain politically non-partisan. What made the party high command to effect this change suddenly?

A: I think this is a significant occasion in our history. President Maithripala Sirisena is a leader who always stood for democracy, social justice and freedom from the day he assumed office. In his public speeches, he said during his tenure in office, guns remained silent and no media institution was set on fire and most of all democracy was restored within the four corners of the country. Today journalists are at liberty to pose any question and write anything that they wish.

At present, various mudslinging campaigns have also been triggered. Therefore, there is full freedom all-round. As we have witnessed most of the former Presidents and Prime Ministers contested for a second term as well.

This is the only election where President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe don’t contest for the presidency. The subjects of national security and the Police come under the purview of the President.

The President is the SLFP leader as well. In a situation where the President cannot resign from the presidency and the party leadership, he has taken a praiseworthy step in appointing a member temporarily under his blessings as the party President to ensure democracy. Consequently, the President can remain non-partisan and ensure the conduct of Presidential Election democratically. However, the President has given his full blessings to extend our support to SLPP Presidential Candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

There won’t be any state interference in the conduct of the election. Even the media should highlight this as this has never happened in our history. Throughout we have observed that those who were in power always attempted to make the maximum use of it. President Maithripala Sirisena as a leader had earlier volunteered to have the presidential powers curtailed. This time he chose to remain politically non-partisan to ensure a free and fair election. I see this as a worthwhile move by the President to set an example to the country and also mete out justice to the SLFP and ensure democracy and freedom during the election.

Q: What are the conditions on which the SLFP agreed to support Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s candidacy?

A: We have put forward a series of conditions to extend our support to Gotabaya Rajapaksa. However, those are internal conditions reached upon between the two parties and we should not discuss them in the media. Finally, we have signed a MoU after reaching consensus which has cemented our relations.

Q: What caused SLFP MPs such as Wijith Wijayamuni Zoysa, Piyasena Gamage and A.H.M.Fowzie to join the UNP? Are you going to call for their explanations?

A: We can do that in the near future. At the moment we are not in a position to take disciplinary action against them as we are fully engaged in our election campaign. In future, if party member act against the party and violates its discipline, the SLFP would take action against them with no regard to their names.

Q: Could the allegations about family bandyism and nepotism in the SLPP hold water in the context of political expediency?

A: I believe Gotabaya Rajapaksas’s advent has hardly anything to do with his family. It was purely at the instance of country’s professionals and the policies underlined by him at various forums. We may surely make a mistake but we are mindful not to repeat it.

I hope Gotabaya Rajapaksa may also have a very good understanding of criticisms such as family bandyism and so on. Therefore, such issues are of no avail in the game of politics.