UNP will form next government - Palitha Range Bandara  | Sunday Observer
Life of SJB will be short

UNP will form next government - Palitha Range Bandara 

Former State Minister Palitha Range Bandara said that the life of Samagi Jana Balavegaya will be short, similar to most of the break-away groups from the UNP in the past. Range Bandara is confident of forming a UNP-led government following the election on August 5. 

Excerpts of the interview:  

Q. The United National Party is seeking a mandate to form a government after four and half years of UNP rule. How effective will it be to go in front of people and seek votes to form a UNP government again? 

A. In 2015, we promised people to bring good governance and to set up independent commissions under our rule. We also promised, to uphold the rule of law, to secure human rights, to reduce the cost of living, to boost state revenue, to carry out development activities and build a healthier nation. We stuck to our promises. Hence, people know that we do not make false promises and mislead them. 

Q. During the Presidential election and the General Elections in 2015, the UNP promised to bring the ‘so-called culprits’ before the law and punish them. But that never came through and the government of good governance engaged in shady deals such as the Treasury Bond scam. Your comments?

A. When we said we will punish culprits we did not mean to abduct them in white vans. We promised to conduct an accurate investigation in accordance with the law. We did that. As a result, there are lawsuits against Wimal Weerawansa, Shiranthi Rajapaksa, Basil Rajapaksa and Namal Rajapaksa while Lalith Weeratunga and Anusha Pelpita were proven guilty. Also to expedite the investigations, we introduced a special trial-at-bar. However, those accused used their rights and privileges to postpon trial dates. We did our part but due to delays in the process of the judiciary and rights given to the accused in the democratic space of the country, nothing happened. 

Bond deals had taken place for a long time. However, in this particular bond deal, no such corruption had occurred. According to the forensic report, the questioned transaction during our time was Rs. 639 million. But we have frozen Rs 1,100 million that belonged to the accused company. Thereby we prevented a major loss to the state coffers. But during 2005-2015 the loss to the government through bond scams is Rs 1,047 million. The Rajapaksa government and then Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal are responsible for that. There were no investigations on it. 

Q. Many believe that the UNP will not be able to muster sufficient votes to be the main  opposition party in the next Parliament. Your views? 

A.We are not contesting to be the main opposition party but to form the next government. Our election campaign is not aimed at grabbing power but to develop the country. Remember that we formed a government in 2015 with 42 seats. We were able to pass the budget and the 19th Amendment with a simple majority.

Q. Will the UNP join hands with the SLPP to form a unity government? 

A. As explained, we are a party which formed a government with 42 seats. Therefore, we do not need to go after people to gain power. The leader of UNP made it clear that the party will neither support the SLPP nor form a government with them. Rather there would be other parties and individuals who would support us. 

Q. While you contest from the UNP, your son-in-law is contesting from the SJB. This may make  people think the UNP and the SJB are staging an election drama and both will join when parliament is convened. What are your views on this?

A. There are plenty of examples to point out where family members contested from different parties. Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and her brother Anura  is a classic example.  While Chandrika led the Podu Peramuna, Anura backed the UNP and became the Speaker. This time while Navin Dissanayake is contesting from the UNP his brother Mayantha is contesting from SJB. The SJB was created by a person who was supposed to build a political alliance. Instead, he formed a political party. Such a person is not suitable to head a government or lead the country. We have no intention of tying up with the SJB. However,  56 former parliamentarians of the  SJB have shown interest in re-joining our party. Had the nomination papers being cancelled and new nominations were to be presented due to the pandemic, the 56 politicians would have joined us. Considering the number of lawsuits which have already been completed and one pending judgment, the life of the SJB would be short.