SLFP pawned to the UNP – Pavithra
Posted on September 8th, 2016

By Charminda Rodrigo Courtesy Ceylon Today

United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) Parliamentarian, Pavithra Wanniarachchi, in an interview with Ceylon Today, said the UNP was always loyal to imperialistic forces even though the country has gained independence.
Excerpts from the interview:

?: How do you view the recent developments in the Sri Lanka Freedom Party?
A: I am an SLFPer who believes in the fundamental principles introduced by the great S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike. We believe in social democracy, a nationalistic economy and a centre-left ideology. As a party we always represented and uplifted the standards of the underprivileged segment of the community. We always exercised a non-aligned policy, when it came to foreign relations. Our founder had to leave the United National Party (UNP) at a juncture when he was serving as the deputy leader of UNP and as the Minister of Health and Local Government in the same government and was the Leader of the House. That was due to the mismatch of the policies. UNP was always loyal to imperialistic forces even though we gained independence from the monarch a long time ago. Then, Prime Minister Bandaranaike with the proposal which was unanimously passed at the Sinhala Maha Saba formed the party; with a lot of good intentions.

He made ‘Sinhala’ the national language. He introduced the Paddy Lands Act to protect the rights of the tenant cultivators and the Labour Acts to institute the 8 hour shift for employees. He also nationalised school and transportation networks and nationalized various commercial entities such as the harbour. All these efforts were focussed on uplifting the social standards of the poor in this country. However this is totally different to the principles of the UNP, for example, Minister Ravi Karunanayake says that it is useless to cultivate paddy in the country. But we have taken all possible measures to cultivate every inch of this country. These are some of the many salient differences between the drastically different policies of UNP and SLFP.

?: The SLFP and UNP together have formed a Unity Government. Do you refuse to believe that it is politically viable?
A: How can this unity be realistic when the policies are contradictory to each other? When you consider the economic policy, foreign policy or the policy on national security, these are entirely different to what SLFP had exercised in the past. This is a pure UNP Government. So what stake do the SLFPers have in that? This is absolutely not practical when considering the development of this country. Our party is pawned to the UNP by the present leaders, thus the UNP will definitely overrun the SLFP if we let this go on, the way it is. This is why we have emphasized numerous times to form a pure SLFP Government under the leadership of the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

?: When the former President Chandrika Bandaranaike ended the 17-year-long UNP rule in 1994, the third revival of the SLFP took place. You were an aide specially when exhuming the mass burial site in Sooriyakanda. Do you not think that you have a right in the party, for the services rendered in the past?
A: It is true that we have a right to the party. However, with the way things are currently operating we are compelled to believe that, the SLFP is controlled by the UNP in the present context. Our SLFP leaders are paving the path to be manipulated by the UNPers to fulfil the agenda of the UNP. This reality worries us gravely as true loyal SLFPers who have shed sweat and blood for the party.

?: If you accuse the UNP of having control over the SLFP, how come the reappointment of the former Governor of the Central Bank was turned down by the President?
A: Well if you say that is the reality, why do you not consider the corruption allegation filed against Arjuna Mahendran the former Governor, by the General Secretary of the UPFA, at the Bribery Commission (CIABOC) which does not come up for any inquiry? If that is the respect the government has for the General Secretary of the UPFA, what can we expect for the SLFP from this government? We see CIABOC filing action against the members of the SLFP but exclusive immunity is provided to UNPers. So, if President calls this an SLFP Government, who actually steers the party? Is it the SLFP or UNP? You should consider that first. Mind you, to everyone’s surprise the same Arjuna Mahendran has been appointed to spearhead the 5-year plan of the government.

?: However, in some instances the SLFP prevented some bad moves of the UNP-led government, such as the VAT issue. What do you think about it?
A: The Joint Opposition filed a case and defeated the VAT Act in the Supreme Court. Just imagine 10 customers buy commodities to the value of Rs 3,000, each, that shopkeeper would have had to pay VAT, if the law was passed in Parliament. We believe in providing welfare to the people, not in imposing more and more pressure on them. This government is inefficient in collecting government revenues. So, they blame the previous government for the loans obtained for development projects. The Governor of the Central Bank once told that he would ‘somehow’ collect the taxes. What does he mean when he says ‘somehow’?
We exercised a welfare policy with many benefits granted to the people. The leaders should know how to make use of public servants. See the officials at the Finance Ministry openly refusing to take on ex-officio appointments on various boards. The entire public sector is in chaos due to the administrative inability of the UNP.

?: This government says that the previous government had left a heap of debts behind, what do you have to say about it?
A: Did they not know that there was such a debt remaining by the time they were campaigning to form a new government

? Did they not plan for it? We enhanced the revenues of the government in order to reduce the percentage of the GDP. This again proves that this government has no plan to manage this country properly. ?: Do you mean to say that the people have made a wrong decision at the concluded consecutive elections?
A: You talk to anybody you meet and I’m sure none of them would say otherwise. The government promised a free Wi-Fi facility to the young generation. They promised cars instead of the motor cycles, and that three-wheelers would be given to them. Now what are they left with? The government has not been able to uphold any of those promises made to the people during the election. Let’s leave Wi-Fi aside for the moment, what about the promises made to the farmers? A stable price was promised for tea, rubber and paddy farmers. Now they are left with no option. The fertilizer subsidy has been trimmed off. People are firmly lined up to defeat the inefficient and incompetent government.
President himself has appointed the Opposition in Parliament to prevent resistance and criticism being raised against the government. When there is no proper and strong Opposition in Parliament, how are the genuine concerns of the people going to be raised in the house? This is a clear indication of the level of respect for the concerns of the people. We are making the maximum effort to form a people’s government with the leadership of the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

?: On the anniversary of the SLFP the President firmly said that he is marching towards forming an SLFP Government, do you not agree with that?
A: It was President Sirisena who defeated the party at the Presidential Election. He won the Presidential Election but we had the 2/3 majority in Parliament. Instead of appointing Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Prime Minister he appointed Ranil Wickremesinghe. Then again he went on to defeat the party by removing both the general secretaries of UPFA and SLFP. Look at the Uva Provincial Council, the President made Harin Fernando the Chief Minister and made the UNP stronger. The President dissolved all the Local Government bodies to weaken the party at the grass root level. Do you think these moves were made to strengthen the party?
My father financed the party from 1977 till 1994. Duminda Dissanayaka was a mere 12-year-old at the time I was appointed as the organizer for my electorate. My father organized the very first meeting in Ratnapura for the late Prime Minister Bandaranaike. He became a Member of Parliament in the 1960’s. He and I were elected to Parliament in 2000. We always scored high votes for the party. I have never criticized the decisions of the Central Committee. However, now it has come to a point where I have to reveal the truth. It is a pity that the President has gotten himself trapped in the UNP and now he is attempting to trap us as well.

?: Is the Joint Opposition (JO) forming a new party to compete in the next election to safeguard the wishes of the people?
A: That is something the future would decide. I feel it is too early to comment on that. However, the people who hate the UNP would resort to another political force. Who could stop that?

?: SLFPers of the JO celebrated the anniversary of the SLFP on 2 September at the JO office in Battaramulla. What if, one says that the same people who hooted at the head office of the SLFP are now celebrating the anniversary, what do you have to say about it?
A: Let me get this clear. If they hooted at the SLFP head office it is wrong. People who removed their hats and paid respect at the Bandaranaike Samadiya as they were passing Horagolla, had hooted at the head office. That is their way of showing the distress over the decisions of the leaders of the party. People are fond of the Bandaranaikes; but they do not like the decisions of the present leaders who vest the party in the hands of the UNP.
?: Who would be the leader in making, of the party?
A: It is not about forming a party. But people would love to see Mahinda Rajapaksa leading that force to form a government of the people; to develop the country from where he left off. People are anxiously waiting to see a pure SLFP Government in the country. That day is not as far as one may think.

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