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DateLine Sunday, 30 March 2008

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UNP will never come to power

While the internal crisis of the Janatha Vimukthi Peruma (JVP) seems to be looming large indicating a party division, the Propaganda Secretary of the JVP said that the JVP will continue to be a 'force' in the country and that the future of the party was stable.

In an interview with the Sunday Observer, he said that the JVP's stance on the 13th Amendment would not change and the party would use the Eastern Provincial election campaign to defeat separatism.


Pix Thilak Perera

Following are excerpts of the interview:

Q: The JVP is opposing power sharing under the 13th Amendment. Why do you want to contest the Eastern Provincial Council (EPC) polls on May 10?

A: Yes. We have decided to contest this election because we think this is a good opportunity to convey our views about the provincial councils among the people of the East. We hope to use this as a platform to raise awareness among the people that the provincial council system will ultimately pave the way to separate the country.

The reason why we did not contest the Batticaloa election was due to a different reason. It was not a political decision but we had realised that the JVP did not have the opportunity to move with people and engage in political work there for a long period.

As a result, the JVP could not even prepare a list of candidates. That decision did not have anything to do with the 13th Amendment.

Our decision to contest the EPC does not mean that the JVP is now in favour of the PC system or the 13th Amendment. JVP members are serving in other PCs but we still oppose the PC system.

By taking part in the PC election campaigns, the JVP will make use of that opportunity to express our objection to the PCs and also the 13th Amendment. The JVP had filed a case against the Western Provincial Council about its huge wastage of public funds. The JVP is strongly opposed to the PC system under the 13th Amendment.

Q: It is said that the JVP will contest the EPC polls under some demands. Is it true?

A: We have not made any demand from the Government to contest the elections. This is our own decision and the Government does not have any involvement in this decision, but we have urged the Government to create an environment to have a free and fair election.

Especially there should be a threats-free environment for all the contestants and political parties. When we talk about threats, the Karuna faction is the main factor. The JVP very clearly says that if the TMVP cadres are to be disarmed it should be done in a manner where these carders would not be killed by the LTTE.

Their safety should be guaranteed. We know some interested parties want to disarm the TMVP cadres and put their lives at risk. They should be disarmed in a way that that they will be trapped by the LTTE.

Q: You said that there are some interested parties, which urge the Government to take action to disarm the TMVP carders on behalf of the LTTE. Can you name them?

A: Some with vested interests want the TMVP to be disarmed with the aim of making them vulnerable to LTTE attacks. These requests are from the LTTE, UNP as well as foreign missions here.

The JVP's request is to disarm the TMVP systematically in a safe way so that the LTTE cannot destroy their cadres. We must help the Karuna faction as they took a brave turn by going against the LTTE. They defeated terrorism in the East.

What we urge is that they should not be allowed to break the peaceful environment in the East by using their weapons against the democratic political parties and people. We think that the Government has an obligation to maintain peace in the East.

Q: Recently you accused the UNP for trying to disarm the TMVP to fulfill a requirement of the LTTE. How do you say so?

A: Yes, the UNP is aiming for that. They want to help the LTTE and to create an environment where the LTTE can kill the TMVP cadres. In this situation the Government should protect the TMVPers but they should not be allowed to use their weapons as a tool to win the forthcoming election.

Q: If the JVP oppose power sharing under the 13th Amendment, how do you think that we can solve the national problem?

A: The JVP strongly believes that the national problem cannot be solved by devolution of power. If somebody tells we can end it through power sharing it is an utter lie and also misleading the people. Sri Lanka is a small island nation and geographically or populationwise the country cannot be divided. So the JVP does not believe that devolving power would bring successful results in ruling this small country.

What we believe is that the national problem can be solved through strengthening local government bodies and they should be strengthened to carry out their development tasks. The institutions in these local bodies should also be strengthened. Therefore, the PC system is of no use in solving the national problem.

The country has already experienced the gravity of the PC system. What kind of development we have achieved through the Western Provincial council? It has created a complete jargon in the mis-administration of the province. It is an utter waste of public money.

Therefore, what we say is that there is no necessity to implement another system like the PCs. An even better example of sharing power can be found in our history where they did not lead the country for separatism. What we need is a system that will not destroy the unitary status.

Q: The JVP Leader Somawansa Amarasinghe's 'announcement' of a boycotting of Indian goods has created a controversy now. The JVP which objected the Norway's involvement is now opposing India. Why?

A: No, the JVP did not tell that we should boycott Indian products here but what we said was that Sri Lankans would boycott Indian products if the Indian interferences in our internal matters are getting strong.

We do not believe that Norway's involvement in Sri Lanka took place without the knowledge of the India. If there is no India's support then Norway could not have carried out their desired work here. However, Norway was not successful in achieving its targeted goal and had failed in their mission.

We think that India taking the advantage under this situation, in the guise of helping Sri Lanka defeat LTTE terrorism, has already launched a very tactical mission to interfere in the country's political and economical affairs now.

Even the JVP believes that the urge to implement the 13th Amendment, which was created by India, is taking place under this mission. We openly say that India is trying to increase their number of IOC filling stations, acquiring more lands for power projects, selling power to Sri Lanka are some of the hidden agendas that India already achieved. India is also trying to dominate our power sector.

The JVP thinks the country does not want to make India a problem after leaving one headache - Norway. Our view is that after defeating LTTE terrorism, Sri Lanka does not need to face another problem and a situation where the country's resources are owned by another nation.

Then all the efforts taken by the Government would be of no use as we have already become dependent of another country unwillingly. I think it is the JVP's duty as a responsible political party to unearth the hidden agendas of our neighbour - India.

Q: Do you mean to say that India is not genuine in helping us to crush terrorism and they have some hidden agendas?

A: Yes. Not only India but there are some sorts of efforts by the Western countries to achieve their hidden agendas in the guise of 'helpers' to crush terrorism. WE should have a consensus about both these elements and it is our responsibility to highlight these dangers and educate our people in this respect.

Q: Are you confidant that our people would listen to the JVP and do so?

A: We cannot predict it now. It depends on the outcome of the situation. Who thought that India itself taught a lesson to the Britishers by boycotting British made cloth. It was done by Mahatnma Gandhi.

They were able to close down British weaving factories in India with the patriotic Indian people. Who can say it would not happen here? The JVP believes that India will not interfere in our internal matters and try to make use of our situation to achieve their agendas. I do not thin that they will be so stubborn. If things get worst we cannot give a guarantee of the decisions of the people of this country. They will decide.

Q: if we need the assistance of the international community in crushing terrorism, which country would be the ideal for us to look for, according to the JVP?

A: The JVP does not have any special liking towards any of these countries and there is no need to recommend countries. Our policy is Sri Lanka should work with all the countries closely without sacrificing the country's important policies and resources. We should be able to stand on our own feet in respect of solving our internal matters.

We should have policies that we should not exchange with other countries. For an example President Mahinda Rajapaksa visited Iran recently but now Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayaka has gone to Israel.

If we are to receive some benefits from Arab countries after the President's Iran visit, we are to lose them after the visit of the PM. This reflects this Government's inability to manage foreign affairs systematically. They engage in a ball game where they hit every ball that comes to the court.

Q: Do you say that the Government lacks a proper foreign policy?

A: Yes, we do not have a very effective foreign policy. That is one major problem, which is badly affecting us. The Government still cannot identify our real friends. On the other hand we do not have a list of priorities, which we should protect when handling the foreign factor.

In this sphere we cannot blame India for its wish to interfere with our problems. Leaders of this country has opened the doors for India to interfere with our own problems.

Q: The LTTE has lost the confidence of India after PM Rajiv Gandhi's assassination. Will the continuous objection by the JVP for Indian help to solve the national issue, mend the hatred between the LTTE and India?

A: From the outside the relationship between India and the LTTE is no more. But who can fully guarantee that the Indian intelligence services like RAW would not continue its relationship with the LTTE to be totally different to the one that they give to the LTTE now.

The picture that we see is not the exact picture that depicts reality. Most of these countries have double signals. The signals that they give us may be totally different from the signal that they give the LTTE. The important factor is to maintain trust with India and defeat LTTE terrorism.

If we can maintain trust, it would not be difficult to get the support of other countries. But the JVP does not believe that any of these countries would genuinely assist us to solve our problems and we should be very careful.

Q: Can you tell where the JVP stand now? Are you with the Alliance or not?

A: We are with the people and the JVP is an independent political party. We do not have to be in any of the alliances - with the UPFA or the UNP. The JVP is a patriotic political party.

Q: The government is in the process of defeating the LTTE. If the JVP wants to defeat the Government the JVP will help to fulfill the aspirations of the LTTE. What is your comment?

A: If there is an allegation that the JVP is up in arms in some of the vital issues because we want to support the LTTE indirectly, the main blame should direct go towards the Government. Because the Government make us go against the it by engaging in corruption, maintaining a massive Cabinet and wasting public money and also by trying to harm the unitary status of this country.

As I mentioned earlier as a responsible political party we cannot turn a blind eye when these things happen. We should oppose them. If talking against these things is fulfilling the aspirations of the LTTE,

I would like to ask who compelled us to take that path? Simply it was the Government that pushed us there. The Government should set an example while engaging in the war. People of this country are intelligent and they know the urgent need to crush terrorism and also the other issues.

The JVP will never help the LTTE terrorists but the Government should be more responsible in ruling this country.

Q: The JVP helped the Rajapaksa Government come into power. Do you regret about this decision?

A: I too maintain the same opinion. If Ranil Wickremesinghe came to power at that time, this country would be divided into pieces by now.

The JVP helped the Presidential candidate Mahinda Rajapaksa to prevent that unfortunate situation. As a result, the Rajapaksa Government successfully engaged in the war against terrorism, abolished the Ceasefire Agreement and Norway was sent home as pledged.

Therefore we do not regret our decision to help him come into power. But the JVP regret about the Government's inability to foresee the future challenges of the country.

Q: But your strong objections in vital decisions of the Government shows that the JVP is indirectly supporting the UNP to come into power.

A: The JVP strongly believes that the UNP will never come to power. Therefore we do not want to talk about a thing, which will never happen.

Q: If the JVP wanted to change the Government, you could have done so during the last Budget. But you were silent.

A: While the Government was trying to survive, the UNP tried to defeat the Government.

The JVP did not want to help both wishes. So we decided to be independent. If we take one side, we were helping to achieve the wish of the other side.

Q: But the opposition, including the UNP and the SLMC, claimed that the JVP misled them at the budget. What is your comment?

A: We did not misled any of them. If they can be misled so easily, they cannot be mature politicians.

Then they do not qualify enough to rule this country.

Q: The Opposition Leader has pledged party support for the 13th Amendment while the JVP is opposing it. Do you think that the JVP is now politically isolated?

A: It is not a big surprise. The 13th Amendment is the brainchild of the UNP. So they should help to implement that. They do not have any other choice.

Ours is different. We opposed it from the beginning and still we maintain the same stance. We are a responsible political party which keep our promises and views unchanged, so we do not think we are politically isolated.

Q: Do you think that the Government will go for a general election before the next budget?

A: It depends on the victories that the Government gains through crushing terrorism. If the Government can have victories in the war front then there is a possibility of going for an election.

****

Who is Wimal Weerawansa...

He entered politics with the arrival of the Indian Peace Keeping Forces which was called in to fight against the LTTE terrorists in 1987. The Advanced Level student, who had the leftist ideas, wanted to see a country with 'no thieves and people enjoying similar benefits'. Simply he wanted to see Sri Lanka like Russia or China.

The birth of a strong political campaigner was marked in 1987. He joined the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), which urged late President R. Premadasa to send the Indian army home. They won their demand but the strong military campaign against the JVP during the 1989 insurrection made the young schoolboy go 'missing' from time to time with other the JVP 'carders'.

"The most unforgettable incident of my life was the day I narrowly escaped death in 1989 when a group of Army soldiers shot at 'Anith sahodarayo denna' (two JVP members) and me. We ran for miles and miles for our lives. Finally, we reached an isolated place and spent days without food and water," he recalled.

Recalling the warm memories of his father, P. Weerawansa, one of the popular dancers of the state dancing troupe - he said that his father was his best friend. "I used to sleep along with my father until I left home after joining the JVP. The books he had brought from Russia and China and also the tales about their society motivated me to think new," he said.

The young schoolboy who had never talked with the former leader Rohana Wijeweera but had seen him addressing a political rally. Today, he, who is the Propaganda Secretary of the JVP has a goal. That is to see his childhood dream - a country with more freedom and unity - a reality.

Wimal Weerawansa, who did not abandon the JVP, started his journalistic career as a news and feature writer of the 'Lakmina', which was edited by Sunil Madawa Prematilake. Later he joined the 'Lakdiva' and 'Hiru'. "Apart from writing news and features I am an all rounder in journalism," he said.

Weerawansa has set many popular figures as his role models. He said he wanted to fulfil the task entrusted him by the people of this country. Ready to face any challenge on behalf of the future of this country, this popular young politician reads and enjoys his free time with his two children whenever he find a breathing space.

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