Ranil is now well and truly trapped – Lokuge
Posted on March 5th, 2019

ARUNI MALLAWAARACHCHI Courtesy Ceylon Today

UPFA Member of Parliament Gamini Lokuge says that people are aware if Gotabaya wins, new developments and discipline will be established.

Excerpts of the Interview:

These days most people’s attention is focused on the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) and the SLFP forming an alliance. What is the latest news on this?

A: We are going to defeat the current government. It’s only if we defeat the existing government could we achieve our aim. Therefore, to gain that victory we are ready to form an alliance with any group at this moment.


You said any group; Are you ready to form an alliance even with the TNA?

A: No, no that is not what I meant. We cooperated with them, previously is true. We conducted Provincial Council Elections during the time our government was in power in the North and the East. Nevertheless, we were aware very clearly that we would not win. However, we contested the election, to provide an opportunity to representatives appointed from among the people to work with the government and to develop the provinces. Now, they have already been dissolved. However, do any of the leaders now talk a word about that? What they are thinking about is to obtain a separate division and not to go for a democratic administration.

We can see their distortion through such behaviour. What I actually meant was about our groups of brotherhood.


Although you say that, why this delay in forming an alliance and no practical activities yet to be seen?

A: No, no there is no such delay. We are open now. We contested the Local Government Elections. We went forward as the Joint Opposition (JO). With the SLPP organising itself, we set up a small system. Even though there were differences of opinion on how we would assist our brother groups we ultimately arrived at an agreement. It was based on that agreement that we contested the Local Government elections. We put forward candidates from the Pohottuwa and achieved an excellent victory. If there is a Parliamentary Election in the future, we will do the same thing. Therefore, we are issuing an open invitation to all our brother political parties to join with us and work together.


The Pohottuwa is a single Party. Will all the other groups like to contest under the Pohottuwa? The reason, being certain problems arose during the past LG elections too?

A: Firstly, we have to determine the Leader of the Pohottuwa. We can form an alliance the way we want to. However, the leader of the Alliance should be Mahinda Rajapaksa. The reason is we cannot form an alliance and then allow an outsider to contest, similar to what Ranil Wickremesinghe did. In the history of Sri Lanka, the only person who formed an alliance and allowed another person to contest is Ranil. It has never happened in history, previously. J. R. Jayewardene, D. S. Senanayake, Dudley Senanayake, and Ranasinghe Premadasa did build Parties. Nevertheless, they were the leaders of the Parties they established. Although Mahinda Rajapaksa formed an Alliance, he was its leader. Even if our brother political parties form an alliance, it should be Mahinda Rajapaksa who becomes its leader. There will be no change in that. As a result, there will not be crisis or differences of opinion, at all. The reason is we worked together as an alliance previously as well. Even now we are doing so.


But you cannot say that there are no differences of opinion and conflicts can you?

A: There are small conflicts when selecting candidates for electorates. They are not serious problems. On the other hand, they are not so serious as to motivate them to break away from the Party. The reason is when engaging in politics, if there are two powerful individuals in the same electorate, when going in for a divisional election, where both parties are concerned only one can be given the candidacy. Such minor problems have to be solved internally.


Alright, now who would the Alliance put forward as Presidential Candidate?

A: The leader of our Party is Mahinda Rajapaksa. It will be discussed with our brother political parties and determined. We have several good candidates.


Chamal Rajapaksa, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, and Basil Rajapaksa are among the names being proposed as Presidential Candidate. Who will be given preferance from among them?

A: All three of them are suitable. There is no problem regarding the three of them.


You cannot propose all three. Therefore, you must be having an idea about one of them surely?

A: We like all three of them.


Whom do you prefer the most?

A: I of course would like someone who can govern this country. There are very good individuals among those who have been named. They can be proposed without any problem at all.


I feel you are not  answering the question directly!

A: It is not about my making a direct answer. As for this point of time we should not pop that question in and create more problems. However, the answer is at the tip of my tongue! It will be given out, not now but at the right time.


Although you are protecting that, some persons say things like, I am the Presidential Candidate and if they cannot why can’t we? Why do they say different stories? Is there no common agreement within the Party?

A: An agreement will be reached only a Leader of the Party says so and not when Electorate Organisers in villages discuss and make decisions. Anyone can express various views on the Candidate they prefer. Whatever anyone says it will become apparent when the right time comes around.


A discussion was held at the house of G. L. Peiris about making Gotabaya Rajapaksa the Presidential Candidate, wasn’t it?

A: Yes, it was held.


When almost everyone participated in it, Basil Rajapaksa who is a powerful member of the Pohottuwa did not participate. When you look at this from outside, it seems apparent that there is some objection, a crisis?

A: No, no. There is no such crisis. I saw Vasudeva Nanayakkara saying that it was no problem for them if Gotabaya Rajapaksa contests, if he agrees with their conditions and arrives at some agreement with them.


But initially what was said was something that was against it?

A: That is the very same thing I am saying. Those who spoke in opposition are changing little by little.


Basil Rajapaksa says that it will be a member of the Pohottuwa who will be sworn in as the President of this country. Whom is he talking about?

A: It is possible that the next President of the country will be from the Pohottuwa. May be one of our  members will become the candidate from the Pohottuwa. There is no problem in that at all. Together with our brother political parties it will be a candidate from the Pohottuwa who will become the President.


Couldn’t it be that he is referring to himself?

A: No, no, not about himself. Nevertheless, you will get to know about it very soon.


If Gotabaya Rajapaksa becomes the President, it will be Mahinda Rajapaksa who becomes the Prime Minister. Then someone could object, can’t they? That it is a government centred on one family?

A: It is like this that people vote, not because of the Rajapaksa family. People will vote after considering the tasks both of them have done. They vote for Mahinda Rajapaksa because he ended the war in this country, and carried out a giant development programme and as a leader who provided benefits to the people.

They will vote for Gotabaya Rajapaksa because he managed the war and as the Defence Secretary subsequent to the war ending, took over the UDA and set up a new development programme in the country and as a leader who established discipline. So, they do not vote for nepotism in politics. People are aware that if Gotabaya comes, new development and discipline will be created. They have already come in through the Rajapaksa family and made it known to the people.


There is no Budget for the year 2019, as yet?

A: The Budget should be presented on 5 March. We are also waiting for the budget. When they bring it, you will be able to see what happens.


Why, will something big happen on that particular day?

A: Just wait and see!


Although you say that, what people who are watching can see is that the Opposition is not strong enough?

A: No we are strong enough. When the Budget is presented we will show you how the task is done at the correct time.


Are you trying to bring about a temporary upheaval similar to what was done on 26 October?

A: We did that too, correctly and at the proper time. No one knew about it until it was done, did they? It is because we did that, that these progressive changes have come about. Who though that Mahinda Rajapaksa will become the Prime Minister of the country. But we did that!


But with what happened, didn’t Mahinda Rajapaksa’s reputation and popularity up to that time, get damaged?

A: That is true. However, since that happened the President and Mahinda Rajapaksa made a firm decision, without saving the country, there was no point in our having a government. Whatever problem arises, we have to work towards saving the country. At that time they were preparing to sell off Palali. They were also getting ready to sell the Hambantota Port and the Petroleum Corporation. They were to give away the Southern Jetty of the Colombo Port too. All of this was halted due to the upheaval we created on 26 October. Now, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is well and truly trapped. We have to wait like this for only another 8 months. That is what we are putting in an effort for.


However, the United National Party (UNP) of course says another story.

A: What is that?

They say that because of what happened on 26 October, they had to pay the biggest loan instalment in the history of Sri Lanka, for the first time.

The economy collapsed. No foreign country or international financial institution is providing loans, they say. Apparently that is due to the short-term decline.

A: Ranil Wickremesinghe does not have anything else to say either. The best example for this is, J. R. Jayewardene. He established the government in 77 and completed the Mahaweli scheme which was due to be done in 10 years, in 5 years. He obtained foreign loans for that. However, no other government came in and said they could not pay off that debt. That was how the Mahaweli Scheme was completed and we became sufficient in rice.

Similarly, Mahinda Rajapaksa built Airports, Ports, Expressways, and Coal Power Plants in the country. How much of foreign exchange is being saved by the country due to these Coal Power Plants now?


But there is an allegation that neither Mattala nor the Hambantota Port succeeded in earning profits?

A: If this government had not come in, they would have reached the stage of earning an income by now. As soon as they came, all flights stopped. At that time there were one hundred and fifty thousand passengers arriving at Mattala. Stability cannot be achieved as soon as an Airport is built. It takes time to start making profits. We commence re-exporting from the Port. This is a country which paid off foreign loan instalments properly up to the time Mahinda Rajapaksa was in power.


There is talk that a Presidential Election will be held. Should the Presidential Election or the Provincial Council Elections be held first?

A: If we are protecting democracy we should conduct the Provincial Council Elections first. It does not matter if the Presidential Election is held after that. Six Provincial Councils are now inactive. However, even the judiciary is silent. No one talks about Non-Governmental Organizations at all. Not even the international community! It shows that they are biased.


The UNP says they could not be held at the proper time because of a group led by you all.

A: There is no point in accusing us of that. It is the Speaker who should be held responsible for that. Then, it was planned to hold the elections on time but who postponed them? The people of this country know who keeps postponing elections in this country. They are scared of contesting an election. In short this government does not like elections.


Due to the expiration of the Delimitation Committee, it will not be possible to hold the elections according to the new system. Would you agree if the elections are to be held using the previous method?

A: We are ready for any method. What we want is an election. If they want it according to the previous method, be it so. If they want it according to electorate level, then be it so. Whichever one is the same to us.


At this time the UNP is talking about the need for a National Government?

A: Even if they want a National Government how can they do it without a two-thirds majority? We are also waiting to see how they will establish a National Government.


There are certain factions, who define the government change you carried out on 26 October as a conspiracy, aren’t there?

A: How can you say it was a conspiracy! When a problem arose between the President and the Prime Minister, we made use of that situation. That is what is called politics. No one went to Court against it. No one went to Court because President Maithripala Sirisena removed Ranil Wickremesinghe from his post as Prime Minister and appointed Mahinda Rajapaksa instead. They went to Court against holding an election. Then the Speaker said that they did not have two-thirds majority and not even 50%. Now, they can go to Court again if they want to.


Recently the President said that in the first second an opportunity arose, the government will be toppled.

A: Yes, that should be done.


But toppling governments is not an easy thing to do. Is the battle you have launched to topple the government at this moment, strong enough?

A: That is why we are not saying anything about it. Like the previous time, we will topple this at some time. Wait and see what we are going to do.


But what those who are looking inside from the outside can see is that conspirators of foreign enemy forces who acted to send your government home then still remain within your camp.

A: Actually we too have some doubts about that. From 2012 these enemy forces entered and engaged in eradicating the image of Mahinda Rajapaksa and carried out that procedure both from within and without. Those who were inside made use of them and made them act in a way that those within got disgusted with Mahinda Rajapaksa. In the meantime they spread a rumour that a change was required and thefts had to be halted.

Nevertheless, those who said that are the very same persons who got involved in the biggest robbery of all. Even now, these people have crept into all the Parties and are attempting to spread rumours that Gotabaya is good, Gotabaya is bad, Basil is good and Basil is bad, Chamal is good and Chamal is bad. We do not take much notice of those. There must be such enemy forces. We have to be careful of such persons. We have to be especially alert about enemies that come disguised as friends.


What is your stance regarding the American institution, Millennium Corporation which is thought could become a threat to National security?

A: We questioned this in Parliament. The far more serious problem than the Millennium Corporation is that the 7 fleet of the American Navy is in the Indian Ocean. No one knows for what reason they remain there. They have been granted permission to take from the Bandaranaike Airport without any checks or investigations. I am asking what our freedom is, what is our security? A highway is being built from Trincomalee to Mannar through the Millenium Corporation. Then this country gets divided very simply. Actually a proposal has been made to hand over to this business 35,000 acres in the vicinity of the fuel tanks at the Trincomalee Harbour. Then this 7 fleet of the American Navy is in the Indian Ocean, we feel is to enter the country at any given moment a problem arises. When we consider the things that America did during the past, we have huge doubts.


Although you are talking about a Presidential Election at this moment, do you have a programme to attract minority votes?

A: As I said earlier, we are ready to work with them with cooperation. Now, we were able to work directly with people’s representatives they elected through the Provincial Councils Method. Although we could not hold discussions with armed organisations such as the LTTE, the possibility was there to conduct discussions with democratic institutions. When persons such as Pillaiyan were elected to the Provincial Council we were able to hold discussions without weapons. Now their distortion can be seen. If not, the TNA should shout now too, asking for Provincial Councils to be given to them. They too are in favour of Provincial Council elections being postponed.

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