Sajith Premadasa has been deceived – Udaya Gammanpila
Posted on November 8th, 2019

By Aruni Mallawarachchi Courtesy Ceylon Today

Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) Leader Udaya Gammanpila said that Sajith Premadasa violated the promise he gave saying that he would not agree to any deal which will be harmful to the sovereignty of the motherland, even before the Presidential Election was held.

“He is mum on the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Agreement,” he said.

Following are excerpts of the interview:

Your faction revealed the UNP had planned a massive conspiracy against Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Is this true?

A: The UNP, in the face of defeat had launched this conspiracy as a final trump card. Generally, it was said that Catholic people were born with the cross and the elephant engraved on their chests. But now, that situation has changed entirely. They know the UNP will not get even 5% of Catholic votes. They have a big problem of regaining those votes. It was this conspiracy that they carried out, that we were able to discover. They had named it ‘Maha Helidarawwa’ or the ‘Great Revelation.’

What were they ready to reveal through that?

A: Arrangements had been made to prepare a video as if a member of the National Thowheed Jama’ath Organisation was making a confession as the first phase of this conspiracy at a house in Battaramulla belonging to someone named Thushara and release it to social media. This video says that to show that there was a collapse of national security targeting the Presidential Election, based on a request made by Gotabaya Rajapaksa, an international group of terrorists had carried out this attack. Names of two Sri Lankans are mentioned in this video and they declare that Gotabaya Rajapaksa had close contacts with terrorist groups in the Middle East and Europe.

Then, the second phase of the conspiracy was planned. Under that, 8 Catholic Members of Parliament hold a Media briefing and put the responsibility of the Easter Sunday Attacks on Gotabaya Rajapaksa and say that he should accept it and request that as planned to arrest him.

The third phase was holding a protest opposite a Catholic Church on 03 November, saying “arrest Gotabaya.” The fourth phase was a request from Catholic Fathers and Catholic people of importance to hold a continuous unbiased investigation into this.

The final phase was for the UNP to publicise a baseless document that showed that Gotabaya Rajapaksa had contacts with international terrorists. But unfortunately for the UNP and for the fortune of the Nation, we came across it prior to this conspiracy being launched.

It is said that the Cabinet approval has been granted to the MCC Agreement which you were against and was said to be harmful to the country. Now, what will you do?

A: Sajith Premadasa violated the promise he gave saying that he would not agree to any deal which will be harmful to the sovereignty of the motherland, even before the Presidential Election was held. He is standing up on behalf of this agreement which has a direct impact on the sovereignty of Sri Lanka and gives the right to own land to foreigners. We have to engage in a solitary battle within the Cabinet on behalf of the country and its people in connection with agreements that are harmful to this country.

However, the UNP says that this is a good opportunity for the future of the country and it is a huge victory achieved by our country?

A: There are two main sectors in this project. We are not against the project that is on behalf of transport which is one sector. We are against the land reforms project only. We proposed to America to give up the land reforms project and use the money only for the transport project. But they did not like it. That just shows that they have a separate objective.

Anyhow, we will not allow this to go forward. Parliament has to be summoned in order to pass the amendment relevant to this. We will defeat it in Parliament at that moment.

Although you have got the support of the SLFP, you do not have the support of the President. By signing this agreement, don’t you have any doubts about the independence of the President?

A: We appreciate the decision made by the President to remain independent. Actually, that is what should happen and the best thing that could happen. The overall support of the SLFP is with Gotabaya Rajapaksa now. An agreement has been signed between them and Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The President remaining independent at a Presidential Election is a new precedent. We see it as a good thing.

But various opinions that he will climb on the Presidential stage and make a controversial statement are being expressed?

A: There is a saying that when one is being swept away in water, he clings on even to a straw! By now, all the trump cards presented by the UNP have become garbage. Therefore, their final expectation as they think will be that President Maithripala Sirisena will come and make a statement advantageous to Sajith Premadasa’s election battle. We know that when the husband dies, the wife cries saying ‘why don’t you wake up.’ The reason is she has no alternative. She is destitute. Today, the UNP is crying out similar to the wailing wife, whose husband has died.

Several Tamil and Muslim parties have expressed support to the SLPP. But there are doubts among the people, whether you all have agreed to conditions harmful to the country, to obtain their support?

A: We represent various Parties. Those Parties have policies and procedures which are unique to them. An alliance means agreeing to a common procedure. It is the common programme which was agreed upon with the minimum conditions that was launched on 25 October, Friday, ‘Saubhagyaye Dekma’ – the Vision of Prosperity. There is no other condition beyond that, which is harmful to the country. We do not have secret agreements or conditions with us, like the UNP.

At the Media discussion held at the Shangri-La Hotel, Mahinda Rajapaksa said as soon as the new President is sworn in, the Prime Minister and the Cabinet will be removed. However, Lawyer Jayampathy Wickramaratne said that legally, it cannot be done. How do you see this as a lawyer?

A: It will be decided based on the political situation that exists at that moment. Jayampathy Wickramaratne has forgotten that Ranil Wickremesinghe, who had only 46 members in Parliament, was appointed as the Prime Minister. Since Maithripala Sirisena was elected with a huge mandate of 52 per cent, and although the UPFA had a majority of two thirds to object it in Parliament, they did not act on it. At that time, the Prime Minister had only 46 seats. But Mahinda Rajapaksa had 95. The percentage that Gotabaya Rajapaksa will obtain at the Presidential Election, the divisions arising in the UNP, the demand in society for a Parliamentary Election will decide this.

Under the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, does the President have the power to remove the Prime Minister? Lawyer Jayampathy Wickramaratne of course says he does not?

A: It is completely wrong. On 26 October 2018, the President removed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and appointed Mahinda Rajapaksa. Jayampathy Wickramaratne did not take any action to challenge that appointment in any Court. They challenged the fact of dissolving Parliament. They accepted the fact that the appointment of Mahinda Rajapaksa was legal. Since it was not possible to find a majority of 113 in Parliament that Mahinda Rajapaksa decided to resign.

You allege that extremist Muslim ministers are supporting Sajith Premadasa. But they have a considerable voter base at a certain level anyhow. They say they can obtain 80 per cent of the minority votes. How will you overcome this challenge?

A: We submitted a No-Confidence Motion in Parliament, presenting facts that Rishad Bathiudeen was directly involved in the Easter Sunday Attacks. Since he wanted to escape that, he quit, came back, and sat again in the ministerial chair. Legal action was not taken against him up to now, in this country. By now, there are allegations against Rauff Hakeem, that he had contact with terrorists for a long time, and when they had engaged in terrorist activities and sustained injuries and were hospitalised he had gone to visit them, and that knowing of the terror attacks he did not take any action to prevent them. All of them are with Sajith Premadasa, to ensure his victory. So, no justice can be expected from Sajith Premadasa’s Government on behalf of those who died and were injured in the attacks.

Minister Rishad Bathiudeen, with allegations against him, is with Sajith Premadasa’s Government as the Minister of Industry and Commerce. It is a very powerful ministry. You may remember that I made a statement on 5 May that I will not join a government where Azath Salley and Rishad Bathiudeen are included. I also said that I will not support the candidate who will be supported by them. Later, this same opinion became the policy of the alliance.

However, your opponents are targeting you with the same allegations. They say that it was your Rajapaksa Government that nourished terrorists, such as Zahran?

A: This Government was scared mostly of Gotabaya Rajapaksa. There was nothing they did not do, to arrest him and put him in prison. If within such a background he had provided funding for Zahran, he should be in custody by now. For those who set up 17 false cases, if they did find an actual case against him, will they avoid putting him in jail? If either Gotabaya Rajapaksa or anyone in the previous government gave money to Zahran, what this government should do is not holding Media briefings. They should go to the Police and lodge complaints and ensure these persons were taken into custody. Nothing like that happened. It just shows that these are baseless allegations and total lies.

The other fact is that if Zahran received assistance from him, why did Zahran and others decide to support Maithripala Sirisena, rather than Mahinda Rajapaksa. At the same time, why did they decide to support the UNP at the Parliamentary Election? It is clear from this that it is the UNP and not our team who has protected Zahran and his group.

Actually, what is your programme to obtain the votes from the North and East? Do you think that they will vote for your candidate?

A: Let us consider it separately. If we speak about the Tamil people first, during the era of Mahinda Rajapaksa massive development was carried out in the North. Water, electricity, the A-9 route, railways, housing, schools, livelihood methods, hospitals, Local Government institutions, were all provided. But the TNA said it was not development they wanted, but devolution of power. Therefore, they told the people to defeat Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was rebuilding the North. They did that. Ultimately, all development work came to a standstill. They did not receive a Federal Government under devolution of power either. The Provincial Council that was there was abolished. The people are angry with the TNA. They will not do what the TNA says, again. There is great recognition for the Mahinda-Gotabaya combination in the North.

Let us go to the East. The situation there is different. When the Tamils had arms, they chased away the Muslims. They extorted money. They went to mosques and killed people. Now, the Tamil people are in fear at a moment when Muslim terrorism exists, that the Muslim people will take revenge from them for what they did previously. They are in fear. Therefore, they have understood that it is Gotabaya Rajapaksa who can eradicate Muslim terrorism from the roots. Therefore, there are better responses from the East, than from the North.

Let us talk about the Muslim people. It was the Beruwala incident which had an impact on the Muslim people distancing themselves from Mahinda Rajapaksa. The UNP used it against Mahinda Rajapaksa. During the nine and a half years that the Mahinda Rajapaksa era existed, only that type of incident occurred. Later, six incidents from Galle, Poddala, Kandy-Digana, Chilaw, Kuliyapitiya and Minuwangoda were reported. Therefore, now the Muslim people know that they are safe under a Mahinda Rajapaksa Government.

It is said there is a certain number of new votes from the youth. How are you addressing those?

A: This is a myth. There is nothing like that. I will explain it. If there was no election held between the last Presidential Election and this Presidential Election it would be true to say there would be one million new votes. There was a very special Local Government Election in 2018. About 80 per cent used their votes. All the votes were divided up among all parties. There are only three hundred thousand votes that were not there then. If 80 per cent vote, there will be 240,000 fresh votes. It is less than 2 per cent of the overall number of votes. Generally, fresh votes are always against the Government, across the world. There is a reason for that. 

These new voters are now 19 years of age. What they see subsequent to them becoming politically sensitive is only this government. They have no knowledge of governments that existed before that. They were small children then. As a result, they have seen only the faults of the Government that is in power now. Therefore, fresh votes in every country around the world are against the existing government by nature. Therefore we have the advantage of receiving those votes.

The Election Manifesto mentions providing tax relief, fertilizer free of charge, and also about State and war heroes’ salaries. However, Mangala Samaraweera has declared that governments cannot be run by doing these things. At the same time, Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka said Gotabaya’s tax relief measures are totally false?

A: These statements show the misunderstanding they have about the economy. Mangala Samaraweera is a fashion designer and it is no surprise that he does not understand anything about the economy. Patali Champika Ranawaka does not understand even the ABCs of economics. It was I, who taught him economics at that time. Therefore, I have a good knowledge about his understanding. In a majority of countries in the world, 80 per cent of taxes are collected through direct taxes. Only 20 per cent comes from indirect taxes. Our objective is to reduce the percentage of indirect taxes and reducing the burden of tax of the cost of living on poor people.

There are about a million people who are not caught in the net of tax. But by reducing the tax percentage and expanding the tax network, we will be able to earn tax income. The experience across the world is the more the tax percentages, the more the black economy will collapse, but the tax income will not increase. If you can bear the tax you pay it! Mangala, Patali and others cannot understand that.

It is said, by now, Sajith Premadasa is carrying out his propaganda work very successfully. Actually, do you not feel there is a massive attraction of the people towards him?

A: We can see that Sajith Premadasa is, as of now, entangled in a trap. The reason is, whatever said and done, Ranil Wickremesinghe is someone with a good brain. He has very nicely ended the political journey of Sajith Premadasa. What he did was to present his political disciple Anura Kumara for the Presidential Election. Through that, the 6 per cent votes the JVP provided the UNP with at a previous election will not come to Sajith Premadasa. Sajith will obtain the lowest percentage of votes. When that happens, on 18 November, Ranil Wickremesinghe will summon Sajith Premadasa and say, “Sajith, I was going to contest this time. If I was defeated, I was going to go home. However, it was you who got defeated.

Therefore, I will not go home. The reason is because in 2024, Gotabaya will contest again. Then, I will not be able to put you forward. As a result, I will have to groom a new leader to contest against Gotabaya. Until then, I will remain as the Leader of the Party. However, the new leader I appoint will have to be given the post of Deputy Leader. So, Sajith, now you resign from the post of Deputy Leader.” Ultimately, Sajith’s attempt to become Leader of the country will end in his losing his post of Deputy Leader of the Party as well.

(Pic by Udesh Ranasinghe)

 Aruni Mallawarachchi 02:00 AM Nov 06 2019

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