Western and Southern new Opposition Leaders committed to revive the
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
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
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
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
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
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.