UNP will suffer more splits – Lal Kantha
Posted on October 13th, 2019

By Anuradha Herath Courtesy Ceylon Today

JVP politburo member and Chairman of the party’s National Trade Union Center K.D. Lal Kantha said the JVP is capable of ruling the country with just 10 ministries.
Excerpts from the Interview:

This Presidential Election is decisive. What impact will it have on the JVP?

A: The people are yearning for change. Our responsibility is to grant that wish. It is decisive in that sense. After a long time, a candidate from our party is contesting a Presidential Election. That is another reason for this election to be decisive.

Over 30 candidates are to contest the election. Is that going to be a problem?

A: It was the same on previous occasions as well. The number may be high but we are competing only with Sajith Premadasa and the candidate from the Rajapaksa camp and we intend to defeat them.

Do you believe that the other candidates are contesting as a show of support for the main candidates?

A: We don’t care why they are contesting. There are those who have come forward on multiple occasions for reasons best known to them.

Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa recently accused your party of carrying out Sajith Premadasa’s poster campaign. Is it related to the previously discussed matter?

A: It is nonsense. These are baseless accusations like the ones they made before.

Reportedly, your candidate, Anura Kumara Dissanayake is contesting under an unregistered political party, National People’s Power Movement.

A: He can contest either as an independent candidate or from a registered political party. We are contesting under an alliance.  

Is he an independent candidate or a common candidate?

A: He is the candidate of the National People’s Power Movement.

What are the priorities included in your manifesto?

A: The main thing we need to change is the political culture in this country. We need to repair the pinnacle in politics. We cannot build the country without doing so.

Rural poverty has increased. The debt burden of the country is Rs. 11 trillion. What are your proposals to get us out of this debt trap?

A: We totally reject the economic policies of the UNP and the SLFP. We are going to introduce a new economic policy framework. The answer to the debt problem is earning Dollars and saving them. We can start to come out of this debt trap as soon as we stop wasting Dollars.

There is a massive gap between imports and exports. Imports outdo exports in a big way. Do you have a plan to address this?

A: The depreciation of the Rupee against the Dollar is to blame for this situation. We need to do a lot to reduce the trade gap. First, we need to reduce unnecessary imports. 

We must also increase exports. We should take steps to educate and train our labour force before sending them for employment abroad in order that they and in turn the country can get a better return on investments. There are many things that we can do.Those living in rural areas are busy trying to make a daily

 living and most couldn’t care less about imports and exports, foreign reserves and Dollars etc. Rulers do not bother to even repair a tank for them to cultivate their paddy. Does the JVP have a plan to uplift their living standards?

A: The small and medium sized tanks were repaired by the farmers’ associations with assistance from the government in the past. Our plan is to provide solutions to problems as a collective series of actions. Our aim is to develop a system run by the masses. We cannot do this without their support.

National security is a topic that is on the minds of every citizen, particularly after the spate of attacks on 21 April. People expect an answer.

A: Threats to national security is a direct result of the agreement Sri Lanka is going to sign with the US. We do not have other threats to National security now.

What about public security?

A: The most important issue at the moment is public security. The Easter Sunday attacks are related to them.

The NPPM is a new party that is not that well known to the public. In this backdrop to expect 45 – 50 lakhs of new votes is impractical isn’t it?

A: It can be done if people want a change. If not, there is nothing we can do to change that.

You are a socialist. But the way you answer questions is different from your colleagues.

A: The reason is that even though my politics is with the JVP, my culture is different. The politics and culture of the JVP are two different things. That is why you see two different personalities.

The perception among the public is that the JVP represents our youth. Are the youth close to you? Are you happy with youth representation in your party?

A: If we are already satisfied with where we are and happy with what we have achieved on behalf of our youth, that is wrong.

You previously admitted the JVP had made mistakes in the past and that there were things that needed to be corrected. What are those mistakes?

A: There are various eras in politics. We call the period before 1994 the old times. The period after 1994 is the new era. We have not committed so many errors after 1994.

Rohana Wijeweera vied for power to build the country. There were people then who saw the JVP as heroes. But now the JVP has come forward with other goals in mind for the future. How can you change the perception people have of you as a party?

A: Our party is working on behalf of the people now, just as we did in the past. We display these characteristics in ways that benefit the people.
Why is the JVP labelled as being green or pro-UNP now?

A: I don’t care about labels. People are allowed to have opinions. The most important thing at present is our work.

But the voters take this very seriously. Don’t you think this will be an obstacle to your election campaign?

A: It is not an obstacle to us. We are not a party that works to someone else’s agenda.

Most people think of the JVP as terror mongers.

A: If any movement wages war, that movement will kill its enemies and vice versa. That is nature of war. Similarly, we can call those in the armed forces who killed our comrades
in the past killers as well, isn’t it?

What if you win the upcoming Presidential Election?

A: Do you have an inkling this will happen?

People are suspicious about your personnel. Do you have the necessary human resources to run the ministries?

A: Let’s discuss it at the General Election. We need to back only one person at the Presidential Election. We have fielded the best person for the job.

But people will check on your future plans before voting.

A: They can. First, see who are around the other candidates. There are thieves on both sides. 

See the calibre of people we have with us. Anura Kumara Dissanayake, Tilvin Silva, Vijitha Herath, Lal Kantha, Bimal Ratnayake, Sunil 

Handunneththi, Nalinda Jayatissa, Wasantha Samarasinghe, Namal Karunarathna, Samantha Vidyarathna, Nalin Hewage, etc. That is enough. We can run the country with 10 ministries. 

At present, some cities have the same number of ministries we plan to run the government with. We have 437 local government members. All of them are good, honest individuals. We have no Provincial Councils now. 

There are ex-councillors. They too are good. This is what is good about the National People’s Power Movement.

Why are you turning your attention away from the people at grassroots level now?

A: Who makes that allegation?

Ex-JVPers among others make that allegation. They point out that you are now limited to speaking at media briefings.

A: Those who say that may have distanced themselves from the people. They might not understand the impotance of what we do. This statement shows a severe lack of understanding on their part.

People are rallying around the National People’s Power Movement. What steps will you take if the groups that withdrew their support want to re-join after correcting the error of their ways?

A: We shall direct them to the Executive Committee of the National People’s Power Movement. They will decide on what action to take and how to proceed.

What factors will be considered when taking that decision?

A: The NPPM has a programme in place. They must accept it. However, acceptance is not sufficient. The executive committee must agree to take them back.

Tamils and Muslims say they still have unresolved problems. They demand land and police powers in their areas. How do you deal with that issue?

A: Those problems do not occur if a political movement treats all people alike.  

If your prediction comes through what would happen to the candidate of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna?

A: There are doubts surrounding both the party and the candidate of the SLPP. That party is finished after this election.

Some commentators point out that JVP is entrusted with the task of breaking up the vote in favour of the UNP candidate. How do you counter this allegation?

A: There is no evidence to back up such an allegation. They just say these things to mislead people.

What is your perception about the UNP candidate, Sajith Premadasa?

A: The UNP is facing the same crisis it faced when R. Premadasa became their candidate. The UNP will definitely split further.

Will the UNP split or has it already split?

A: There is an internal split and it will split further.

Do you want second preference votes?

A: This second preference campaign is a result of the deterioration of the two major political forces. We have fielded a winning candidate and therefore we do not want to speak about a second preference.

Those in the UNP and others have urged the JVP supporters to first vote for Anura but to mark their second preference for Sajith.

A: This could be true. There are three preferences in this electoral system. After giving us the first preference, people can decide about the rest. We don’t want to influence people. We just ask them to vote for our candidate.

As Chairman of the National Trade Union Centre you raised your voice on behalf of trade unions in the State and private sectors as well as semi-government ones during the 2015 Presidential Election. You were able to reap the benefits of this. Why have you stopped doing it? Is it because of the Presidential Election?

A: We are for the ongoing trade union struggles, such as the ones launched by the teachers, principals, non-academic staff, etc.

 We, the NTUC, urge the people to vote for our candidate, Anura Kumara Dissanayake, so that we can then provide solutions to the problems faced by you.

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