UNP unable to field presidential candidate -NWP Chief Minister
North Western Province Chief Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara said
President Mahinda Rajapaksa is the only common candidate who could win
the next Presidential Election. The President is the only leader who has
formed a rainbow coalition of political parties from all sides of the
political divide. The Chief Minister in an interview with the Sunday
Observer said if the UNP is a strong political party as they claim to
be, they should field their leader as the next presidential candidate.
However, Ranil Wickremesinghe will be no match for President Rajapaksa.
The Chief Minister said constituent parties of the Government which
contested under the UPFA banner have no moral right to resort to any
action which would inconvenience the Government. Before they resort to
such action, they should think twice as to how they got the people's
mandate. Today some constituent party members of the Government go
against their mandate by making contradictory statements. Whatever
problems they have, first they should think how they were voted to
office. They have no right to resort to any move which would make the
Government uncomfortable. If some of these UPFA constituent parties
contested individually, they would have not secured even a single seat.
Had I also crossed over to the Government, I think it would have been a
betrayal of the mandate given to me by the people. That is why I
resigned from the UNP Parliamentary seat and launched my political
campaign under the UPFA banner for the North Western Provincial Council.
Q: The UPFA's mammoth May Day rally indicates the people's
unstinted support to President Mahinda Rajapaksa. This permit any
attempts at a regime change by local or international elements?
A: It was a mammoth May Day rally held in recent history. I
couldn't even reach the final destination in Campbell Park. I had to
wait at the for venue about two hours at the spot where the UPFA May Day
procession started. My supporters and I joined the May Day procession at
about 1.00pm, but even at 7.00pm we could only reach Punchi Borella. I
think only party supporters of 71 electorates reached Campbell Park
where the UPFA May Day rally was held under the patronage of President
Mahinda Rajapaksa. A mammoth May Day rally of this stature has not been
held in Colombo in recent history. The UPFA May Day rally was a clear
indication of the people's confidence reposed on the President and the
Government and that it had not reduced. various speculation have been
adduced by the UNP about a regime change and baseless allegations have
been levelled against the Government to mislead the people, the UPFA May
Day rally was a strong message given by the people.
Q: How do you explain the UNP's decision to shift its May Day
rally to Ampara, when Colombo is the heart of the country's trade union
A: The UNP is not in a position to conduct a May Day rally in
Colombo under the leadership of Ranil Wickremesinghe. Wickremesinghe has
no ability to bring people to Colombo and conduct a successful May Day
rally. Most of those who attended the UNP's May Day rally in Ampara were
employees of UNP National Organiser Daya Gamage. They were not genuine
UNPers who love their party. It was a rally represented by the employees
who work in garment factories owned by Daya Gamage. It is a diabolical
lie when the UNP said that 30,000 people attended their May Day rally.
The UNP finally said that they would conduct an inquiry on those who
didn't attend their May Day rally. Because even some of the UNP front
runners and supporters from some electorates did not participate in this
rally which is testimony to the plight faced by the UNP. .
Q: The UNP Leadership Council Chairman Karu Jayasuriya has warned
the Government that their May Day rally was a red light warning to the
Government. How do you explain this?
A: Prior to the talk of this red light warning, the UNP
launched their election campaign for the recently concluded Western and
Southern Provincial Council under the slogan of “ green light for regime
change”. But the UNP's vote base has not increased even by a single vote
compared with the votes they obtained at the 2010 General Election. The
UNP was defeated even in Hambantota compared to previous General
Election results. UNP votes have reduced by nearly 5000 at the Colombo
Central and 11,000 in Colombo North. UNP votes have reduced in the
Borella electorate as well. Therefore the people have given a red light
warning to the UNP at all the recently concluded elections. This is just
a mere statement made by Jayasuriya to give the UNPers a stimulus.
Q: What is this talk about a common candidate for the next
Presidential Elections? Will it pose a threat to the UPFA?
A: If the Opposition parties want to field a common candidate,
firstly they should have a common agenda. Ranil Wickremesinghe remains
the UNP leader, this would never be a reality. Because other Opposition
political parties are not ready to dance to the whims and fancies of
Wickremesinghe. The UNP claims that it is the most powerful political
party but they were not in a position to field their own candidate at
the last Presidential Election as well. If we take the history of the
SLFP, they have fielded their own candidate at every Presidential
Election held so far. Sarath Fonseka was fielded as the Common Candidate
at the 2010 Presidential Election. If Fonseka won that election, a non-UNPer
would have become the leader.
This is a serious issue on the part of the UNP. Now speculation is
rife about several popular public figures such as former President
Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, Sarath Fonseka and Ven. Maduluwawe
Sobitha thera who are to be nominated as Common Candidates for the next
Presidential Election. But if they don't obtain the UNP party membership
before they contest, the UNP would be deprived of the opportunity of
producing its leader. If the UNP is a strong political party as it
claims, it should field its own leader as the next Presidential
candidate. Ranil Wickremesinghe will be no match for President Rajapaksa.
The President is the only Common Candidate who has the ability to win
the next Presidential Election. Obviously the President is the only
Leader who has formed a rainbow coalition of political parties from all
sides of the political divide.
Q: How do you explain the present controversy over the casino
business in the country?
A: Only 3,500 people are involved in this casino business. It
was the UNP which brought casinos to Sri Lanka during former President
Ranasinghe Premadasa's regime. If Sajith Premadasa claims that casinos
and jackpots were destroyed, it was his father who brought casino
gambling moghul Joe Sim to Sri Lanka. Steps have to be taken to promote
the tourism industry. New hotels should be established to develop it.
The Government has categorically stated that new licenses will not be
issued to start new casinos. In the future, existing casinos will also
be regularised and brought under one roof. If there is a dire need, we
can also explore the possibility of banning casinos to locals. But the
Opposition gives a distorted picture to gate political mileage from this
Q: Don't you think the World Conference on Youth boosted Sri
Lanka's image as a free and peaceful country?
A: Certainly. Youth from all over the world who attended this
conference talked about freedom and democracy in Sri Lanka. They said “
we love Sri Lanka”. The World Conference on Youth paved the way to
create massive global opinion among youth about Sri Lanka. These youth
will give a good message to the international community on the
prevailing peaceful atmosphere in Sri Lanka.
Q: Apart from a few isolated incidents, overall there is peace and
religious harmony. How do you explain efforts by certain groups to
besmirch the country's image?
A: This religious extremism prevailed earlier as well.
Sometimes this led to various issues within society. It is obvious that
Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country and the majority of the people are
Sinhala Buddhists. But we should condemn the attempts made by certain
extremist religious groups to harass Muslims and Catholics. At present,
the Government has also introduced legal provisions to prevent such
acts. We don't want to create problems or disharmony with other ethnic
groups. But attempts are made by certain groups to internationalise
these isolated incidents to bring disrepute to the country. There is no
involvement by the Government in these isolated incidents. Some mud
slinging campaigns launched by certain sections based on these minor
incidents would tarnish the country's image. These attempts by certain
elements would create the necessary environment conducive for some
vicious forces to interfere into our domestic issues.
Q: The main Opposition UNP says that the Foreign Direct
Investments (FDIs) has dropped compared to previous years. Is there any
truth in this?
A: UNP economists are talking rot. Only investment to be made
by James Packer in Sri Lanka is US$ 400 million. The FDIs has not
dropped as claimed by the UNP. After the eradication of terrorism, the
FDI inflow has shown a dramatic increase. There is great demand for land
in the North Western Province for various new investments. The
Opposition and certain sections protest against Packer's project to
obstruct FDIs which are flowing into the country. The Opposition and
certain sections are creating an economic crisis within the country. If
Packer's investment was made, that would have been one of the largest
investments by a single foreign investor in Sri Lanka.
Q: Is there any economic development projects launched in the
North Western Province or do you have any plan to tap the development
potential in the province?
A: At present the contribution made by the North Western
Province to the GDP amounts to 9.6 percent. My intention is to increase
this to 15 percent by 2018. To reach this target, massive scale
investments have to be made within the province. At present I am
discussing with investors to attract large scale investments to the
province. Even today, the North Western Province makes a huge
contribution to the GDP in agriculture, dairy industry and poultry
farming. My target is to bring the province right on top among these
areas. I am confident that we would turn the province where it would
provide 15 percent contribution to the GDP within the next few years.
Q: In democracies MPs have the habit of shifting their political
convictions to suit their future political career. How would you explain
this practice as democratic and satisfying voter aspirations?
A: I am of the view that if we contested from a particular
political party and elected to Parliament, we have the right to
safeguard our mandate. Had I also crossed over to the Government, I
think it would be a betrayal of the mandate given by the people. That is
why I resigned from the UNP Parliamentary seat and launched my political
campaign under the UPFA banner for the North Western Provincial Council
Election. Today we can see some constituent party members of the
Government going against their mandate by making various contradictory
statements. Whatever problems they have, they should first think how
they were voted to office. They have no right to resort to any move
which would make the Government uncomfortable. If some of the UPFA
constituent parties contested separately, sometimes they would not have
secured even a single seat. The constituent parties of the Government
which contested under the UPFA banner have no moral right to resort to
any action which would inconvenience the Government. Before they resort
to such action, they should think twice as to how they got the people's