Resounding mandate for a stable Government - Dr. Ramesh Pathirana | Sunday Observer

Resounding mandate for a stable Government - Dr. Ramesh Pathirana

9 August, 2020

Minister of Plantation Industries and Export Agriculture Minister Dr. Ramesh Pathirana said that the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) will form a Government with a two-thirds majority with the help of other constituent parties who supported the SLPP led political alliance. In an interview with the Sunday Observer, Minister Pathirana said the people at the August 5 General Election have responded to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s request to give him a resounding mandate to form a stable Government to carry forward his vision. He said that the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) and the United National Party (UNP) have faced a severe setback as they did not have any pragmatic approach to take the country forward.

Q. How do you view the landslide victory by the SLPP at the August 5 General Election?

A. People have fully endorsed President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s policies. They have realised that the President is committed to making far-reaching changes in the country. People have responded to the President’s request to give him a resounding mandate to form a stable Government to carry forward his vision.

Q. Is the SLPP in a position to form a Government with a two-thirds majority?

A. We will form a Government with a two-thirds majority with the help of other constituent parties that supported the SLPP led political alliance.

We don’t want to form a coalition Government with other parties as we have secured a vast majority as a single political entity.

Q. The Jathika Jana Balawegaya secured the third place and the UNP faced a humiliating defeat by being pushed into the fourth place. What is your view?

A.The Opposition parties have got only a few seats. It is not good for democracy. The UNP does not have a sound footing in the political arena due to the split in the party. Most UNPers have moved towards the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB).

Q.The SJB led by Sajith Premadasa secured only 54 seats and could not pose any challenge to the SLPP. How do you look at this scenario?

A. Sajith Premadasa has lost his political moorings. He had been the Hambantota district organiser for the past two decades, but never came closer to the winning post.

Everybody knows what has happened to his party when it comes to the question of political survival.

Q. The election results are a reflection that even if the SJB and the UNP jointly contested, they could not secure half of the total number of votes obtained by the SLPP. Your views?

A. That is mainly because of the fact that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has done a great job in relation to key aspects, specially controlling the Covid-19 pandemic in the country. The people have reposed a lot of confidence in him. He has laid emphasis on technological innovation. The economy is the most vital aspect that has to be developed to record a level within the next few years. The SJB and the UNP have faced a severe setback as they didn’t have any pragmatic approach to take the country forward.

Q. Do you think that the outcome of the election is a clear indication that a vast majority of the people have reposed confidence in President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Saubhagyaye Dekma (Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour) policy statement introduced at the last Presidential Election to create a new political culture?

A. Of course. We didn’t introduce a new manifesto targeting the General Election.

The people have a lot of confidence in the President’s Saubhagyaye Dekma policy statement. It is our duty to implement its policies.

Q. How do you view the present plight faced by the UNP and its leader Ranil Wickremesinghe?

A. The UNP which is one of the oldest political parties in the country won’t have any future if the party is not reformed to suit present-day needs. They have to take a decision to reform the party.

The UNPers may want the party to come back to mainstream politics in an organised manner and function as a strong political entity.

Q. The people have elected many newcomers from the SLPP to Parliament. What are your views?

A. The people want to change the political culture and elect newcomers, specially professionals to Parliament.

It is a good trend to elect capable people to Parliament and get them to fulfil duties on behalf of the people. It would be a good combination when newcomers enter Parliament and work with senior Parliamentarians.

Q. There is a significant change of the Northern vote as the TNA vote base has been drastically reduced and the EPDP and the SLFP have secured a considerable number of votes. Do you view this as a positive development?

A. Of course. This is a positive development evolving over time. Some pro-LTTE elements are promoting anti-government sentiments.

However, it is our party that has contributed to develop the northern and the eastern provinces. We will further develop northern and eastern areas economically and socially.

Q. Despite the vigorous campaign carried out by the Jathika Jana Balawegaya led by the JVP, they secured only three parliamentary seats. Your views?

A. It is obvious that their vote base has eroded. It is up to them to reform the party and their positions to serve the people in a more effective manner. Their credentials are, however, poor to do that.

Q. It has now been proved that a stable Government can be formed without the support of the minority parties. How do view this new development?

A. That was a positive development started at the last Presidential Election. Over 6.9 million people voted for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. However, we want to look after all segments of society.

Q. The lack of a vibrant Opposition will not be a healthy trend for democracy. How do you view this?

A. The SJB has secured 54 seats in Parliament. It is up to them to organise themselves and play the role of the Opposition. We are looking forward to getting their ideas to develop the country.

Q. You secured the highest number of preferential votes from the Galle district. How do you view your victory and that of the SLPP in the district?

A. I thank my voters wholeheartedly. They were at the forefront over the past couple of years to effect this change.

The Galle district could command one of the highest majorities of 70.5 percent of voter turnout.

I could secure 205, 814 preferential votes which is the highest ever obtained by a candidate in the Southern Province. We are grateful to the people who contributed to the victory of the SLPP.

Q.The biggest challenge of the Government will be to develop the economy. What is the Government’s plan for this?

A. We will strengthen the economy. We restricted certain imports during the past few months to protect local industries. We will continue to protect local industries from agriculture to the plantation sector. We will encourage local manufacturers to export their products.