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On the Geneva Resolution we have the legitimate right to take our own stand:

Government fares extremely well at the polls - Udaya Gammanpila

Legal Advisor to UPFA constituent, Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), Udaya Gammanpila who was sworn in Friday in the newly-elected Western PC Minister, once again as Minister of Agriculture, Agrarian Development, Irrigation, Trade and Environment told the Sunday Observer in an interview


Udaya Gammanpila

When I was appointed as the Chairman of the Central Environmental Authority, I introduced huge changes to the authority and its activities. The people, especially environmental activists , remember it and they still talk about it. When I was assigned with the portfolios of environment, agriculture and industry as Minister of the Western PC, I revolutionized the entire Government machinery and introduced new technologies and new techniques which brought national and international awards to the Ministry. As a new Minister with the same portfolios , I will do my best to make it the best.

Looking at the last PC polls results, anyone can comprehend that it was only a red-light signal to the Opposition UNP and not to the Government, he said . Answering a question on the TNA's anti-government campaigns overseas, he said that the party was a political wing of the LTTE and should have been banned following the example of similar instances in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Egypt.

Excerpts of the interview:

Q: Your views on the Government's performance in the March 29 PC polls?

A: At the March 29 PC polls, the Government has performed extremely well. Unfortunately, the Opposition is on an attempt to misinterpret the election results to show that there is a 'red light' for the Government. But it is not so. Lot of people forget to comprehend the fact the previous PC elections were held under an entirely different and totally extraordinary circumstances The previous PC elections. were held on 25th April, 2009.

It was three weeks before the historic victory against the LTTE. President Mahinda Rajapaksa has unified Sri Lanka after 544 years. He is the Sri Lankan ruler to unify Sri Lanka after King Parakaramabahu the 6th. Since the people wanted to express their gratitude for the achievement of the Government some of the traditional opposition voters decided to vote for the government. Another block of opposition supports decided to abstain from voting as a mark of gratitude. As a result an unusually high percentage of voting for the Government was recorded which was unachievable under the PR system under normal circumstances. The government's margin in the 2009 polls should not be compared with results of any other polls. It was under exceptional circumstances and should be excluded for comparisons. Usually in an election the winning party would record between 45 to 55 percent voting in favour of it. The Government has very comfortably achieved it. The government has polled 53 percent of the valid votes in the Western province and 58 percent in the Southern province. This should only be compared with the other historically important victories of the past.

When the SLFP-led coalition government defeated the ruling the party in 1956 for the first time in the history of Sri Lanka, the winning party secured only 44 percent of the total votes. In 1977 when the UNP achieved 6/5th power in the parliament it secured only 51 percent of the votes. In 1994 when the 17 year long UNP rule was toppled by the People's Alliance,

led by Chandrika Kumaranatunga, they were in a position to get only 48 percent. President R.Premadasa got the mandate of the people to eradicate poverty the country in 1998 and he got only 50.4 percent. When President Mahinda Rajapaksa got the mandate of the people to eradicate LTTE terrorism in 2005, he was able to get only 50.4 percent votes. So compared to such historical victories, this is an excellent victory for the government.

Q: About the performance of the JHU and your own performance ?

A: The JHU has performed very well at the polls. We fielded five candidates to the Western province a Kalutara candidate was the best loser in the Kalutara district. Similarly Madhu Madava Aravinda who contested from Gampaha was the second best loser in the Gampaha district. So after the parliamentary elections they would come to the PC recording 100 percent victory.

In my case, I had a very restricted election campaign. I strictly observed all election laws and ensured that my election campaign would not damage the environment. Since my campaigns were eco-friendly, neither polythene nor crackers were used. My campaigns were law-abiding I never used crackers , posters or stickers except on my vehicle which is allowed by law. Since my campaign was ethical, I never distributed food items, liquor or other gifts to voters. I never did house-to- house campaign which is not allowed under the election laws. Because of my restricted campaigns, I may not have reached the people as the others did. When I started my election campaigns, I was concerned about the environment. I was careful about the environment and the election laws. Looking at my election results, I am happy that I am a winner while protecting the environment. I am happy about what I have achieved.

Q: What reasons do you attribute to the little setbacks encountered by the Government in Colombo East and Colombo West ?

A: It is nothing new. What has happened is that the Democratic People's Front (DPF) led by Mano Ganeshan which contested previous elections in alliance with the UNP contested independently. The UNP became first and the DPF became second making the UPFA third. The UPFA vote bank has not been disturbed by them. Mano Ganeshan had a sizeable vote bank and they came second. There is nothing to worry. The UNP is trying to propagate that the polls result is a danger sign for the Government. But in reality it is only a danger sign for the UNP. The UPFA has recorded much above the winning margin. But the main Opposition UNP has lost its ground to the Democratic Party (DP) and the JVP. They pose a serious threat to the UNP. This was unexpected. The JVP has bounced back after the change in leadership. Unless the UNP too does the same, it will become a party of the past.

Q: The constituents of the UPFA are to adopt a common stand with regard to the UN Resolution, according to reports. Your comments please ?

A: As you know the UPFA is a coalition of 16 political parties. We have different visions, missions and view points. We have reached consensus over the ‘Mahinda Chintana’ future vision. That is our election manifesto. But we have diverse views over everything else in the world. On the Geneva Resolution we have the legitimate right to take our own stand. But we will hold talks to consider possibilities of reaching a common stand in relation to our activities and approach on the Geneva Resolution.

Q: The salient aspects of your achievements as Minister of the Western PC ?

A When I was appointed as the Chairman of the Central Environmental Authority, I introduced huge changes to the authority and its activities.

The people, especially environmental activists , remember it and still talk about it. When I was assigned with the portfolios of environment, agriculture and industry as Minister of the Western PC, I revolutionised the entire Government machinery and introduced new technologies and new techniques which brought national and international awards to the Ministry. I am not aware what is now in store for me. But whatever Ministry and portfolios are offered to me I am willing to accept it., to do my best and to make it the best.

Q: The JHU position with regard to the TNAs anti-government campaigns overseas ?

A: We should not be surprised about it. Because the TNA is a political wing of the LTTE. The TNA members, including its spokesman Suresh Premachandren, frequently visited Kilinochchi to get advice and directions from LTTE's political commissar Thamil Chelvan for their political activities. In the international scenario, whenever a military outfit was defeated its

political wing was either banned or proscribed. When the Taliban was defeated in Afghanistan its political wing was proscribed. When Saddam Hussein's military power was defeated his political wing, the Bath Party, was proscribed. It is the same that happened to Col.Muammar Gaddafi's political party in Libya and Anwar Sadat's party in Egypt. But Sri Lanka did not ban the political wing of the LTTE, the TNA. Many TNA members got the opportunity to rise to the status of provincial councillors and they are taking advantage of that position to express their racist views in the international forums. We made a blunder in not proscribing the TNA. Despite the repeated warnings we failed to ban the TNA and, as a result, we are now suffering.

Q: As a democratic country, our setback is the want of a strong opposition party. What are your suggestions in this respect ?

A: The present leader of the main opposition has been continuously rejected by the people for 29 times. Unless, they change the leadership the UNP will not have a future. Secondly, mere change of leadership will not be the answer. They should find out why they have been repeatedly rejected by the people. Their policies, their activities and their thinking have been

unpatriotic. Unless they change on these, the change of leadership alone will not bring any good results. We admit the fact that our opposition is very weak and we realise that we need a strong opposition. For this to happen they should first change the leadership and they should give a new outlook to the party. They should make a paradigm shift in their policies.

Q: What is the JHU position in relation to the many controversial activities of the Bodu Bala Sena ?

A: We do not have any clear-cut policies about the activities of the Bodu Bala Sena per se. It is on a case by case basis. We whole heartedly supported some of their activities and, similarly, we never associated with them in some of their other activities.

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