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Sunday, 6 April 2014

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Western and Southern new Opposition Leaders committed to revive the party

Provincial Council elections of 2014 were held last week to elect new members to the Western and Southern Provincial Councils. Although there wasn't a regime change in either Council with the final results, marginal differences of increases and decreases of the votes scored by the major parties were recorded ,while the small parties showed a considerable increase in their votes.

The Government appointed the former chief ministers, Prasanna Ranatunga and Shan Wijeyalal De Silva as the new Chief Minister while the United National Party appointed former Opposition Leader Manju Sri Arangala as its new Oppositition Leader to the Western Provincial Council and the highest preferential votes scorer of Hambantota district S. Tennekoon Nilame to as Opposition leader in the Southern Provincial Council.

The Sunday Observer had a brief interview with the two Opposition leaders and thefollowing are excerpts:

Manju Sri Arangala
Western Provincial Council

S. Tennakoon Nilame
Southern Provincial
Counci Opposition leader

Manju Sri Arangala is an experienced politician in the Western Province who counts over 30 years of political experience having started his political career with the former Minister of the area, Gamini Jayasooriya.

He had proved his mettle in all previous positions he held as the Meegoda Gramodaya Mandalaya Chairman, Homagama Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman and as the Western Provincial Councillor and then as the former, Opposition leader of the Western Provincial Council.

Q: You have been re-appointed as the Opposition leader of the Western Provincial Council by the party when there is another candidate who has scored more preferential votes than you in the Colombo district. What is the reason behind your success?

A: Our party hierarchy and the working committee have very correctly analysed the situation and appointed me to this post. Number of preferential votes is just one qualification while a large number of factors are taken into consideration in appointing members into various positions in our party.

Mainly the seniority, experience degrees of commitment and dedication and the rapport with the grassroot level membership. I think I possess all these qualifications and hence I deserve to be the Opposition leader of our council.

Q: Do you think that you had lived upto the expectations of the public during your last term of office as the Opposition leader?

A: If I had failed during the last term they wouldn't have re-elected me to power this time I did all possible things in my capacity as the Ops.leader. We never allowed the UPFA to take obnoxious measures arbitrarily although they had a clear majority in the council.

Q: How do you hope to cope up with the challenge for the second consecutive term and revive the party for a future victory?

A: Yes our firm intention and conviction is to bring back the UNP into power at a future general election. We have remained in the Opposition enough and with our new political strategies and the government's failure to address some crucial issues, it is not difficult for us to mobilise the masses and emerge victorious at a future national election. We are already in the process of negotiating with other minor parties to form a broad alliance to challenge the UPFA government at any future election, UNP is the only party which can develop the country economically socially, culturally while maintaining cordial international relations and establishing inter-communal harmony in the country.

The new Opposition leader of the Southern Provincial Council, S. Tennakoon Nilame began his political career as the Chairman of Hambantota Pradeshiya Sabha in 1991.

He successfully contested the Provincial Council election in 1999 and since then continuously represented the SPC as an Opposition member during the last four terms. Tennakoon Nilame polled 28998 preferential votes at 2014 PC election securing the 1st place in Hambantota district.

Q: Your party leadership had reposed heavy confidence in you by appointing you as the Opposition Leader of the SPC. How do you hope to cope up with this challenge?

A: Our party had been in the Opposition for quite a long time and this is the beginning of the revival of the UNP for which I shall do my utmost as the Opposition Leader of the SPC. Having been in PC politics for the last 15 years I am quite familiar with all functions and administrative procedures of the council, and I am personally quite confident of discharging the duties expected of me as the Opposition leader to the entire satisfaction of my party leadership.

As the new Opposition leader of the SPC I shall leave no stone unturned in safeguarding the democratic rights of the people of the Southern Province.

There had been instances where unrealistic and undemocratic measures were arbitrarily taken by the previous rulers which resulted in colossal amounts of funds being down the drain. Under my stewardship in the Opposition I shall never allow the new regime to repeat similar acts and as a result squander funds.

Q: The UPFA has a considerable majority in the SPC and how can you object to their activities?

A: Number of heads won't count when it comes to crucial issues which affect the people. I shall work quite cordially with other Opposition members and prevent the UPFA from carrying out unwarranted project swhich squanders public funds.

Q: What have you got to say about the election campaign?

A: We conducted our election campaign quite smoothly abiding by the instructions given to us by our party. We didn't have any major incidents of violence.

But the ruling UPFA violated accepted norms by abusing the state resources for their election campaign. However, I am thankful to the Elections Commissioner for meting out justice to all candidates irrespective of party difference.

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