Colombo voters will switch allegiance - Danasiri Amaratunga | Sunday Observer
Parliamentary Election 2020

Colombo voters will switch allegiance - Danasiri Amaratunga

Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) Colombo district candidate and former Mayor of the Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia Municipal Council,Danasiri Amaratunga said there will be a drastic change in the voting pattern in Colombo and the suburbs at the General Election, mainly because of what President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has done for the country.

Amaratunga in an interview with the Sunday Observer said everybody, irrespective of their political differences, has recognised the President as an honest and capable leader who has the potential to rebuild the country. What the people want is a capable team who can work with the President.

Excerpts:

Q. Do you have a plan to be implemented if you get elected to Parliament from the Colombo district?

A: The problem of houses is the biggest issue of the people in Colombo. There are lots of shanties in Colombo and the suburbs. Politicians attempt to keep shanty dwellers in the same position to realise their narrow political objectives. That is the main reason as to why they remain in the same tragic situation. These shanty dwellers have many issues. Nobody is willing to offer a job to a person from an area where there are shanties. Even the children of those who come from such a background are not admitted to a school.

We have to demolish shanties and build housing schemes for them. During the tenure of our Government, we provided them with nearly 530 to 560 square feet houses. That is what we have to do to solve their housing problem.

There are many drug addicts among these shanty dwellers and steps should be taken to rehabilitate them. Soon after rehabilitation, we have to give them some sort of employment. This drug menace will be over within the next three to four months. That is the pledge the President has given to us.

There are certain areas catagorised as ‘underworld’ areas. There may be only one or two underworld figures in a particular area. However, society has categorised that the whole area as an underworld controlled area. First, we have to get rid of the bad reputation of those areas and give them a facelift. Then only we can do something for the betterment of these people. I have laid my key emphasis on this. I want all these people to be safe.

Q. In most previous elections, the majority of the electorates in the Colombo and the suburbs were won by the UNP. Do you think this would change at this election?

A: Definitely. There will be a massive change this time because the UNP is no more as it has split into two factions.

Their supporters are reluctant to vote for them. Sajith Premadasa and Ranil Wickremesinghe have lost the trust of the people. The Colombo Central and the Colombo North electorates have been categorised as UNP strongholds, but the issue is that our people have not visited those areas. That is why these places have been categorised as UNP areas. I visited these areas and spoke to the people. If we visit those areas and speak the truth, the people would rally round us.

There are many issues faced by the people in the Colombo North and Colombo Central electorates. They like to be with the Government to get their issues solved. This time, there will be a big change in the voting pattern in Colombo and the suburbs mainly because of what President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has done for the country.

Everybody, irrespective of their political differences, has recognised the President as an honest and capable leader who has the potential to rebuild the country. The people also love Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa as the veteran political leader in the country, who has rendered yeoman service to the country during his tenure as the President. Even the majority of the Muslim community has decided to vote for the Government.

The people have commended the steps taken by the Government under the leadership of the President to contain the Covid-19 pandemic in the country. This shows the credibility of the President.

The vast majority of the people like President Rajapaksa as he is a non-politician. The people want an administrator rather than a politician to rebuild the country. Now what the people want is a capable team who can work with the President. Many new faces will be in the next Parliament.

Q. Moderate people say that the voters are ready to elect an intelligent and competent team who can work with the President to develop the country. Your comment?

A: That is true.At the same time, I ask the people not to vote for those who left Mahinda Rajapaksa and joined hands with somebody else. They will go back again and do the same thing.

They quit Mahinda Rajapaksa to get money.

SLPP supporters will never vote for anybody who left Mahinda Rajapaksa. I suggest to the voters to give one preferential vote to a senior politician and other two preferential votes to new candidates.

The people want a Parliament with new faces.

Q. The SLPP and the SLFP are jointly contesting the General Election. Has this led to a confrontation among SLPP and SLFP candidates?

A: There are certain issues. Genuine SLPP supporters don’t like SLFP candidates.

If the two parties have joined hands, there is nothing much we can do.

Q. Are you confident that the SLPP would be able to secure a two-thirds majority at the General Election?

A: Yes. I am confident. I contested the last General Election as well. Those days, we had to ask the people to organise meetings for us.

This time, 30 to 40 groups come to my campaign office daily asking me to organise meetings. My diary is full until August 2.

That shows the voters are keen to elect new people to Parliament and help President Rajapaksa to take the country forward. The people will take a decision on those who crossover from one side to the other for their personal gains.

Q. The UNP has split into two factions. Both are fighting with each other. How do you look at the plight of the UNP?

A: The Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) led by Sajith Premadasa looks absurd. Being a former President’s son, I don’t understand as to why he resorts to do such absurd things. His party members are clueless. That is why even Mangala Samaraweera quit the SJB.

When I asked Samaraweera about what happened, he said, “We tried to secure our votes, but Premadasa talks rubbish and mess up everything. The people have rejected both UNP factions and the SLPP will win the election easily.

Q. Even Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa says that a two-thirds majority is a prerequisite to iron out the issues caused by the 19th Amendment. Your comment?

A: The 19th Amendment has created many issues. That was introduced by the then President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to realise their narrow political objectives. They wanted to take revenge from Rajapaksas. Otherwise, that was not a people friendly move. It has to be redesigned in a manner that benefits the people. That is why we seek a two-thirds majority to introduce far-reaching constitutional reforms. We request the President to introduce legislation to cancel the party membership if somebody crosses over to another party. Otherwise, some politicians will resort to their habit of crossing over from one party to the other. Somebody should put an end to this unethical practice. The people elect a parliamentarian by voting for that particular party under which he contests.

Q. SJB members say they would form the next Government and Sajith would become the Prime Minister. Would you like to comment on this?

A: Sajith Premadasa has become a joker. Everybody knows he cannot become the Prime Minister. This time, it would be difficult for him to become even a MP because his people are pulling his legs. If somebody wants to become the President or the Prime Minister, he should be able to do something more than what the ordinary people do. Premadasa is acting in an absurd manner, not as a political leader. National leaders never talk in such an irresponsible manner. 

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