GR’s down to earth identity won him over 1.4M majority votes– Minister Weerawansa | Sunday Observer

GR’s down to earth identity won him over 1.4M majority votes– Minister Weerawansa

Minister Wimal Weerawansa
Minister Wimal Weerawansa

Minister of Small and Medium Business and Enterprise Development, Industries and Supply Chain Management Wimal Weerawansa said, at the recently concluded Presidential Election, the people elected the SLPP Presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa as the seventh Executive President, giving him over 1.4 million majority votes of which over 75 percent were Sinhala votes. Minister Weerawansa in an interview with the Sunday Observer said the people understood the public persona of Gotabaya Rajapaksa. He didn’t contest the Presidential election as a politician; he is a person who has fulfilled a tremendous amount of work on behalf of the country without any fanfare. During the Presidential election campaign, he never criticised his rival political camp. Therefore, his down to earth identity became a key factor for his victory.

The Minister said the people had realised what the UNP led Government did over the past four and a half years. It was clearly evident that the UNP defended Zaharan’s extremism and was a puppet Government which danced to the whims and fancies of Western countries. The people also realised that their economic expertise and dedication for national security was zero. Therefore, whoever the candidate put forward by the UNP, this would have been the final result.

Q. How do you see President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s victory amidst the disparaging mudslinging campaign that was led by the UNP?

A: The UNP is quite ignorant of the nuts and bolts of the changing society. At a time when the then Mahinda Rajapaksa Government maintained the economic growth at a rate of over 6.5 percent, the people bestowed executive powers on President Maithripala Sirisena on January 8, 2015. At the same time, the country’s national security had been strengthened by defeating the LTTE. In such a situation, the people decided to form a new Government led by Ranil Wickremesinghe hoping that they would create a better atmosphere. However, economic growth declined to a mere 1.7 percent and the stability of the national security collapsed totally. The Government simply tolerated Zaharan’s suicidal bomb missions! The politicians who helped promote extremism were defended by the former UNF Government. All these dealt a double whammy on society. The people elected Gotabaya Rajapaksa as the seventh Executive President, giving him over 1.4 million majority votes of which over 75 percent were Sinhala votes. The people realised that the UNP defended Zaharan’s extremism and was a puppet Government dancing to the whims and fancies of western countries. They realised that their economic expertise and dedication for national security was zero. In contrast, the people understood the public persona of Gotabaya Rajapaksa. He didn’t contest the Presidential election as a politician. He is a person who has fulfilled a tremendous amount of work on behalf of the country without any fanfare. He never criticised his rival political camp. His down to earth identity became a key factor for his victory.

Q. Would you like to comment on the unwarranted behaviour on the part of UNP politicians such as the Mangala Samaraweera and Rajitha Senaratne cabal? Was not their attack on the Sinhala Buddhist vote base counter-productive for the NDF Presidential candidate Sajith Premadasa?

A: Actually, their defeat was not entirely due to what Mangala Samaraweera said or did. He is not such an influential character in Sri Lankan politics. The entire world knows that Rajitha Senaratne is a ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’. Perhaps, these comedies enacted by them would have caused some sort of damage to Sajith Premadasa’s campaign but that was not a massive damage as some of the UNPers say. Whoever the candidate put forward by the UNP, this would have been the final result. Even if they conducted their election campaign without such mistakes, this is the reality. The people realised what the UNP led Government did over the past four and a half years. At present, a group of UNPers attempt to put the blame on a few of their peers for the defeat. This is how the people expressed their displeasure on the past regime of the UNF Government.

Q. Do you believe those responsible for the Easter Sunday attacks would be brought to book by the Presidential Commission probing it. What is your opinion about the Parliamentary Select Committee appointed by the previous government and its composition?

A: The former Government through the appointment of the PSC didn’t reveal the true situation behind the Easter Sunday attacks. It didn’t investigate the connection Rauff Hakeem had with Zaharan or why Hakeem went to see Zaharan’s brother Ilvan when he was hospitalized due to an injury caused while he was making a bomb. Rauff Hakeem was also a member of the PSC appointed to probe the Easter Sunday attacks. That PSC didn’t investigate how Rishad Bathiudeen helped to promote extremism and also whether funds arrived from the Middle East countries for extremist activities. The PSC appointed by the former Government has not revealed the root cause which paved the way for the Easter Sunday attacks. Hence, a Presidential Commission was appointed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to bring all those responsible for this brutal attack to book.

Q. Is not the alleged abduction of the Swiss embassy employee a concocted story to put the blame on the Government? The victim has still failed to make a statement to the Police in this regard?

A: It seems although the embassy employee has not yet given a statement to the Police, she has given a statement to Rajitha Senaratne. The latter says she is still in trauma as she had been frightened by the holding of a pistol to her mouth. This means Rajitha Senaratne has met her and she has told him this. We vehemently condemn the Swiss embassy falling to such a degradable level. They are pained by the loss of the former puppet administration. The Western countries through that puppet administration continued their project to weaken our state. They were waiting to sign the MoU on Millennium Challenge Corporation. When their entire roadmap became a failure, they couldn’t take it up. It is surprising that their regrets are expressed through such comedies. Although an allegation of abduction has been made, the alleged victim has failed to make a statement to the Police. By the Swiss embassy hiding that employee it appears the allegation is a diabolical lie. If a complaint is made, the investigations would reveal the incident to be false. The employee would then be charged for lodging a false complaint. That is why the Swiss embassy attempts to send this employee to Switzerland and give her political asylum.

Q. The President had told the Indian media that he would do away with the 19th Amendment if he gets two thirds majority at the ensuing General Elections. In your view does the 19 th Amendment need to be amended or abolished?

A: The 19th Amendment plunged the country into a crisis; this was admitted even by former President Maithripala Sirisena. This is an amendment brought in by UNP National List MP Jayampathy Wickramaratne and TNA MP Sumanthiran. It is not an amendment to strengthen the State but to weaken it. Therefore, this amendment needs to be abolished. If we get a two thirds majority at the General Elections, a new Constitution should also be introduced to further safeguard the unitary status of the country. It should be a Constitution which would further strengthen the sovereignty of the people.

Q. In view of the Speaker’s decision to continue in office, will the Government decide to dissolve Parliament and go for a General Election after completing four and a half years on February 17 next year?

A: If Speaker Karu Jayasuriya is a true gentleman, it is incumbent that he resigns immediately. However, we don’t want to continue a Parliament with a UNP Speaker. If the President gets power today, Parliament will be dissolved tomorrow. A Parliament should be created to suit the present thinking of the people. There are lots of parliamentarians who have been rejected by the people.

Q. What is your view on the current imbroglio within the UNP on the election of the Opposition Leader?

A: After Sajith Premadasa was defeated, he had told President Gotabaya Rajapaksa that he would quit politics and that no harassment should be inflicted on his family. He also resigned from his Deputy Leader post. Premadasa who resigned from the Deputy Leader post now demands the Opposition Leader post. This shows his manner of thinking a couple of weeks later, following his defeat. We would like very much if Sajith Premadasa becomes the Opposition Leader as he has already shown that he is not a mature politician. At least Ranil Wickremesinghe knows the art of political craftiness. During the Presidential Election, it was clearly proved that Sajith Premadasa is no match for Ranil Wickremesinghe in political manoeuvering. Premadasa during the past 20 years was not a batsman in the playground. He first came to the playground to contest the Presidential election and it was only thereafter that everybody came to know about his batting. He is a weak batsman. We would like very much for such a weak batsman to be the Opposition Leader.

Q. Have the SLPP and the SLFP agreed to contest the next General Elections as a single political entity?

A: Before the Presidential Election, the consensus reached by all parties was that we would contest the General Election as a common alliance and symbol. We have signed the relevant MoUs, and we act according to the consensus reached before the Presidential Election.

Q. The President has told the ‘Hindu’ that he is not agreeable to implement the 13th Amendment fully against the aspirations of the majority in the country. Is there an actual need to give land and Police powers to the North and would it be the panacea for all outstanding problems of the Tamil community?

A: There is no need at all to give land and Police powers. Power should be given to the people and we should not go for devolution to further aggravate the problems of the country. We should strengthen the power exercised by the people. That is true democracy. Devolution of power to the Provinces based on ethnicity would aggravate the problems. Some foreign countries don’t wish to see our country in a stable position. They attempt to create issues in our country. However, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has categorically stated that he would not pursue any move which is rejected by the majority of the people.

Q. The JVP polled only 400,000 votes which is less than its votes polled at previous Presidential elections. At this rate would not its political survival be at stake?

A: The JVP has dug its own grave. Now, they are systematically inching towards their political grave. The true fact is when the positioning is wrong you can’t win by marketing alone. The JVP has made its positioning wrong. When the positioning was right, the JVP has won without much marketing. As the JVP, it has secured 42 MP posts. The JVP won 16 MP posts by contesting alone. Even when Nandana Gunathilake contested, the JVP had obtained more votes. This shows that Anura Kumara Dissanayake and the gang have destroyed the JVP’s identity and got into the same cabal with NGO racketeers who were categorically rejected by the JVP earlier. What the JVP said was that the South became communalist and therefore the North and East became frightened of it. Then what about the majority of the Tamils and Muslims who voted for Sajith Premadasa? Is it not communalism? Actually, the people were scared of communalism. They were frightened of a puppet leader who will dance to the whims and fancies of those communalists. That is why the Bhikkhus and the clergy made a significant intervention to ensure the victory of Gotabaya Rajapaksa. A political party which cannot even properly analyse its defeat has only a short distance to march to reach its grave.

Q. What is your opinion on the conduct of the state media during the Presidential election?

A: During the last Presidential election, the state media abused its freedom and launched a disparaging mudslinging campaign against the SLPP Presidential candidate. It is obvious the state media supports the party in power. It has happened throughout history. State media did its best to create fake news. However, the recently concluded Presidential election clearly proved that the state media is not in a position to ensure the victory of a Presidential candidate. It proved that the people don’t believe the one sided stories carried out by them.

Q. The British Conservative Party’s election manifesto supports a two-state solution for Sri Lanka. Isn’t this the Western policy of splitting small countries on ethnic lines?

A: To get the votes of the Sri Lankan Tamils in Britain, the Conservative party says they would support a two-state policy in Sri Lanka. They include such clauses to their manifestos thinking that we are still a colony of the British imperialists. Whether it is Great Britain, its Conservative Party, Labour party or any other, they have no right to decide the destiny of our country. These white men should understand that the present world would not bow down before them or be at their mercy. At the recently concluded Presidential Election, the Sri Lankan people showed that they would not let anybody to divide this country or even touch it.

Q. The JVP makes a big hue and cry on the prorogation of Parliament. Your comments?

A: When a new President is elected, it is the tradition to prorogue Parliament. The President would then come to Parliament to deliver his Policy Statement. We came to know that a forensic audit report of COPE was to be released. If COPE Chairman Sunil Handunneththi had openly said that the forensic report was ready we would have postponed the prorogation of Parliament by a few days. Now he says we are attempting to protect the crooks. The entire country knows who had dealings with crooks during the 52 days. Who went to court to reappoint the biggest culprit of the Central Bank bond scam as the Prime Minister? Who tirelessly worked day and night during the 52 days to safeguard the mastermind of the Central Bank bond scam? Therefore, we would like to tell this ‘Three Percent Gang’ that we will not permit them to mislead the people by spreading such absurd stories.

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