SLPP will win in Wanni district - Col. Rathnapriya Bandu | Sunday Observer
Parliamentary Elections

SLPP will win in Wanni district - Col. Rathnapriya Bandu

President Gotabaya Rajapksa has a vision to develop the Northern region of the country and I wish to strengthen his hands to make this vision a reality, SLPP Wanni district candidate Colonel Rathnapriya Bandu who was once hailed as a hero by the people in Vishuamadu for his dedicated service to rehabilitate ex-LTTE cadres told the Sunday Observer.

“During Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government we did much work to upgrade the lives of ex LTTE cadres but unfortunately since 2015 nothing has been done for them,” he said.

Excerpts:

Q. What led you to enter politics and contest the election under the SLPP banner?

A: As a public servant I didn’t have any intention to enter politics until the people of the Northern Province asked me to serve them after my retirement. I then decided to enter politics to serve the people in the North. At present there’s no better political party than the SLPP which can promote patriotism, equality and development with a vision for the country’s betterment. Hence, I chose the SLPP, and with the blessings of the President and the Prime Minister I am contesting in the Wanni district at the upcoming polls.

Q. Why did you retire so early from your previous position?

A: I would have continued my service in the military until 2026, but unfortunately, my work was not appreciated by the former Army Commander. While I was working in the Civil Security Department I had been selected twice to work for the UN Peace Keeping operations but I was not permitted to take it. I was not given any promotions either.

From the North I was transferred to supervise a building construction in the South. As a military person I am ready to perform any work in any area, but I felt these changes were made purposely to stop my future progress. I was sent to the TID twice and intelligence officers deployed in front of my house.

Moreover, the former Army Commander carried out a false propaganda against me alleging that I had staged a drama in Kilinochchi when I retired.

How could one indulge in a drama with nearly 600 people? Although he made sarcastic comments against me, finally he was the one who acted a political drama by contesting at the Presidential election. I was frustrated by these acts directed at me and took an abrupt decision to resign from my job.

Q. Do you have any specific plan for your electorate if you are elected to Parliament?

A: Of course. All citizens of the country have the right to live in unity, in a peaceful environment, while all districts should be equally developed.

Unfortunately, only 10 percent of the Northern Province has been developed compared to the South.

Parliamentariansof the North, representing the Opposition have always complained about the lack of development in their areas.

This is not to say that no one should be elected to the Opposition from the North, but there should be representatives in the Government as well to strengthen the President’s vision for the country.

Q. There is a perception that the country is now ready to select a competent team who can work with the President. Your comments?

A: Definitely, this time there will be a talented team who can work to make the President’s vision a reality. Not only new parliamentarians, even senior politicians should join the President in his endeavour.

Q. Are you confident that the SLPP will secure a two-thirds majority at the upcoming election?

A: Of course, the Government will secure a two-thirds majority at the forthcoming General Election. People who had supported various other parties and their politicians have now begun to join the SLPP. This is not only happening in the South I have witnessed this in the North as well.

Q.New candidates would have to compete with senior politicians in the district. Are you prepared to face this challenge?

A: I don’t see this as a challenge. We still have the traditional campaign scenario in the country. Candidates who are wealthy will distribute money and gifts to voters to get their votes.

It’s a kind of business. People have to understand that. And when the candidate is elected as a Member of Parliament he will engage in development work using the people’s money.

Some candidates have spent huge sums on their campaigns, however my budget is within Rs 1.5 million. I always speak the truth and have not given any false promises to my voters. So, I don’t see this as a challenge. The voters have to be intelligent to understand this process.

Q. What is your view on the 19th Amendment? Should it be amended or scrapped altogether?

A: I would not say that the 19th Amendment is completely wrong, even though it has caused many issues in the country.

If not for this Amendment we could have had the Election before the Covid-19 pandemic. So in my opinion it should be amended according to the needs of the country and the people.

Q. How do you view the ongoing clash between the two UNP factions?

A: When the mother and the father in a family are separated it is difficult to run a family. That’s what has happened to the UNP. When they separated and formed two factions they lost their popularity.

The UNP’ers are selfish, they work only for their personal benefit and have no commitment towards the people. The UNP government has barely done anything for the minorities.

They just sang the National Anthem in Tamil and changed the yellow lines into white. During the Rajapaksa government we did so much for ex LTTE cadres. Nearly 4,000 of them were absorbed into government jobs, among them 550 teachers. But after 2015 nothing was for them.

Q. At the Presidential election, a majority of the Tamils and Muslims voted for Sajith Premadasa. Do you think they would vote for the SLPP at the upcoming polls?

A: They have now realised their mistake and know that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will continue in his position for the next ten years and this Government will continue for the next twenty years. The minorities now understand that they should vote for candidates who will work for their development.

Q. What about the support of the Sinhala-speaking people who are the minorities in the Wanni district? How many seats do you think can the SLPP win?

A: In the Wanni district there are nearly 27,000 Sinhala voters of whom about 20,000 will vote for the SLPP. We should be able to capture around six seats in the electorate.

Q. The TNA claims that the present Government gives priority to the military. What is your comment on this?

A: So far the Rajapaksa government and military personnel have only done good deeds to the people of the North.

It is regrettable that people discern the military in a wrong way. Western countries give military training for schoolchildren and the youth.

The Military is well disciplined, they abide by the law, they achieve targets and have a broad knowledge of local and international issues. When all other professionals are able to contest and become politicians why can’t a military person? I think he is well disciplined and can do a good job in politics as well.

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