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Sunday, 1 June 2014





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Anura Kumara apologises in London for JVP’s 1988-89 terror

The Janatha Vimuthi Peramuna (JVP), or the People’s Liberation Organisation (PLO) as it was known in English at the early stages, is a party which has a notorious track record. More often than never they have reposed more faith in the bullet than the ballot, having resorted to armed struggles to capture power at any cost.

On not less than two occasions, the JVP had attempted to overthrow democratically elected Government through armed struggles and capture power. But they were not successful on both occasions.

Their first such attempt was in 1971 against the then Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike and her SLFP-led coalition government which was only a year old. But the JVP insurgency was defeated by the Security Forces.

When the UNP regained power at the 1977 general election, the late President J.R. Jayewardene gave a general amnesty to JVP insurgents, including its leader Rohana Wijeweera who went on to contest the 1982 Presidential election and polled less than three hundred thousand votes.

The JVP went back to its jungle life after the 1987 Indo-Lanka accord. They introduced their own rule of the jungle during their second insurgency in 1988-89. They brutally killed their political opponents under the guise of various groups and declared unofficial curfews to disrupt the public life. It was under such a JVP terror period, that R. Premadasa was elected the second Executive President in 1988.

Having won the 1989 general election too, President Premadasa launched an all out attack on the JVP and showed no mercy to any of its members. All top JVP seniors were either killed or managed to escape overseas. JVP leader Rohana Wijeweera and his deputy Upatissa Gamanayake were killed by the Security Forces during the Premadasa regime. Out of the present JVP seniors, the only surviving leader was Somawansa Amarasinghe.

After the SLFP-led People’s Alliance ended the 17-year-old UNP regime in 1994, the JVP once again returned to mainstream democratic politics. But the masses were in two minds and always had doubts over their sincerity in democratic politics. The only successful time for the JVP was when they signed a pact with the then President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga to contest 2004 general election and produced 39 parliamentarians and had four Cabinet portfolios.

But during the past decade, there has been severe erosion in the JVP vote base which prompted Somawansa to step down and hand over the leadership to Anura Kumara Dissanayake, who is now trying different tactics to show his colours - that he is a better leader than Somawansa!

Somawansa turns to Veddah community

With speculations over an early Presidential election, the JVP is trying all options to increase their vote base with Anura Kumara making every effort.

The JVP’s latest attempt was to woo the support of the Vaddah community. JVP’s international affairs secretary and former leader Somawansa, along with Central Committee member Sudath Balagalle and a few representatives went all the way to Dambana to meet the Vaddah chief.

Somawansa called on Vaddhah chief Uruwarige Wanniyelaththo at Kotabakiniya village in Dambana on Monday and presented a copy of the new JVP policy statement titled ‘Our vision’.

It was the first time that a JVP leader had met the Veddah chief. They had discussed the present political situation in the country and problems faced by Veddah community.

One wonders whether the JVP was interested in mastering arrow and bow art from Veddahs instead of the infamous T-56 culture during 1988-89. Perhaps, the JVP would have felt that they could not increase their vote base any more and must seek the support of even Veddah community.

Meanwhile, for the first time in its history, the JVP tendered an apology to the people over 6,000 deaths that occurred due to JVP activities during the 88-89 insurrection. Addressing a meeting in London recently, JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake had expressed ‘regret’ over the killings for which his party was responsible during the 1988-89.

The JVP leader apologised from the public over such unfortunate incidents.

“But one has to understand that 1988-89 uprising was no coincidence. There were developments that led to unfortunate incidents occurred during the 88-89 period,” Anura Kumara said. He added that the 88-89 uprising occurred due to oppressive behaviour of the then UNP government, led by the late President J.R. Jayewardene.

Earlier, JVP former leader Somawansa Amarasinghe admitted that nearly 6,000 people died due to the underworld activities of the JVP. However, he was reluctant to apologise. Amarasinghe was the only politburo member of the JVP who survived the 1988-1989 insurrection.

There was a heavy outcry from the public that the JVP should apologise for the killings during the 88-89 period. But the JVP claims that over 60,000 people, including the ones who did not have any political affiliation to the JVP, were killed or ‘disappeared’ by Security Forces and paramilitary groups who operated under the blessings of the then UNP regime of President Premadasa.

Sagala to oust Mangala

It has been a right royal battle for UNP leadership in the Matara district with Mangala Samaraweera, from Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe’s era to the recent batches in the late 80s.

Sagala will soon get the green light from the party leadership as the Matara District leader, ousting veteran Parliamentarian and his fellow Royalist Mangala Samaraweera. However, some members of the UNP Leadership Council and the Working Committee, have vehemently opposed the move. The UNP leadership will diplomatically settle the issue to please both of them as the due have been close confidants of Ranil. Mangala will be told that he has a greater responsibility to play as the head of the party’s Communication Unit and that his name could be included in the national list for the next general election.

Inside party sources disclosed that Sagala has already received blessings of Ranil to be the new District Leader for Matara. Playing a key role behind the new move is a former Channel Head of a FM radio network who was recently elected to the Western Provincial Council from the UNP.

Having represented Matara district in Parliament from 2000 to 2010, Sagala failed to secure his seat at the last general election in April 2010. But Mangala, who crossed over to the UNP from the government, managed to win a seat from the Matara District.

Modi to visit Lanka earlier than expected

India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to visit Sri Lanka earlier than expected. The first invitation Modi got since his election as India’s 15th Prime Minister was from President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The BJP stalwart accepted the invitation from the Sri Lankan leader but the tour is now expected to take place much earlier than expected.

India's External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is also expected to visit Sri Lanka prior to Modi’s visit. But dates for the tours are yet to be fixed by the External Affairs Ministries of the two countries.

Swaraj seems to be having a better understanding about the true ground situation in Sri Lanka. She headed a parliamentary delegation to Sri Lanka in 2012 and undertook a fact finding mission in the Northern and Eastern Provinces where the delegates interacted with a wide cross-section of society.

Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu Q branch sleuths obtained an arrest warrant on Tuesday for a Sri Lankan national and suspected operative of Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), Mohammad Hossaini, arrested by the Malaysian police in Kepong near Kuala Lumpur.

Hossaini was arrested on May 14. Investigators said Hossaini was a close aide of Sakir Hussain, another Sri Lankan national recruited by the ISI, who had been arrested by the Tamil Nadu police on April 29.

Malaysian special units had been monitoring Hossaini since December last year and had informed Indian security agencies that he was part of a plot to carry out terror strikes on the US and consulate in Chennai and the Israeli consulate in Bangalore.

A pleasant surprise for UNP MPs

It was a pleasant surprise for UNP parliamentarians who went to Lakvijaya Coal Power Plant in Norochcholai on a fact-finding mission last week.

Following the bitter experience they had in a similar visit to Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport in Hambantota, the UNP would have thought they could get same undue mileage in Norochcholai too.

But the UPFA politicians in the area acted intelligently with a warm welcome and a reception that prompted the UNP MPs to make a confession that the Lakvijaya Coal Power Plant in Norochcholai is a good investment.

The government in a display of the highest democratic traditions cordially welcomed a group of UNP members.

UNP parliamentarian Harsha de Silva said that his party was pleased with the government’s massive power project.

Harsha further stated that they as UNP backbenchers decided to visit the power plant since there were many rumours about the plant, some of which were true and others false.

Harsha, one of the members of the UNP delegation that visited Norochcholai said the third phase of the Lakvijaya Power Plant which is the largest among the development projects undertaken by the government is being completed and power will be connected to the National Grid for a total contribution 900 MW. He added that this was a responsibility of a government.

He made these observations to the media during the visit to the condenser site.

Ajith P. Perera, R. Yogarajan, Dr. Harsha de Silva, Eran Wickramaratne, Ashoka Abeysinghe, Ajith Mannapperuma, Niroshan Perera, Ruwan Wijewardena, D. M. Swaminathan and Nalin Bandara Jayamaha took part in the inspection tour of the Lakvijaya Power Plant which was set up by the government amidst various pressures and protests, under the guidance of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The members were welcomed by Coconut Development and Janatha Estate Development Deputy Minister Victor Antony who garlanded the opposition members.

Ranil’s wholesale lie boomerangs

The UNP, in a desperate attempt to show its presence, plays at anything and everything. Its leader Ranil Wickremesinghe recently came out with a concocted story that the Government was planning to prune down budgetary allocations for free education after an agreement with the International Monitory Fund (IMF).

But it ultimately boomeranged on the UNP when the Government challenged it with a statement from the Education Minister that President Rajapaksa has even offered to step down if the allegations are proved tight.

Education Minister Bandula Gunawardena declared that if Opposition Leader proves that President Rajapaksa had struck a deal with the IMF to prune the education budget, the President will resign from the Presidency.

“Neither the President nor the Finance Ministry has signed such a pact. President Mahinda Rajapaksa will never harm the free education which the children of this country are enjoying,” the minister told a press conference at the Government Information Department Auditorium.

“Under the Mahindodaya Program 1,000 schools program, science,computer, maths and language laboratories will be set up. For this project, the government had allocated Rs. 1.5 billion and 90 schools in the Norther Province and 103 schools in Eastern Province will be benefited. No other Government had spent so much funds to improve the status of schools in the country,” Minister Gunawardena said.

He said 250 Mahindodaya Technical Laboratories will be completed by year's end. Following the challenge thrown out by the Government, Ranil has not uttered a word. He has preferred to keep mum without heading towards further trouble.

SLFP revival from electorate level

The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), the main constituent party of the ruling UPFA coalition, will conduct electorate level and district level conventions in preparation for the National Convention, SLFP General Secretary and Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena said.

It has been scheduled to hold the electorate level conventions from next month and district level conventions after that. Addressing a media conference at the SLFP headquarters in Colombo last week, the minister added that, with the holding those conventions, all segments of society will be made aware of the forward march of the government and fruitful measures taken to take the country forward.

After conducting all district level conventions, the National Convention will be held on a grand scale with the participation of representatives from all segments of society and thousands of party members.

Speaking on the no confidence motion of the UNP, Minister Sirisena said that the whole exercise boomeranged on the entire opposition. The unity and the strength of the government was further enhanced by the no confidence motion of the UNP. The government could secure its two third majority once again showcasing the stability of the ruling party.

Nimal Siripala on Indo-Lanka ties

Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said that the bilateral relationship between Sri Lanka and India were strengthened with the participation of Sri Lankan President at the swearing - in ceremony of new Indian PM Narendra Modi. India and Sri Lanka have been intimate friends for centuries. The issues that prevailed between the two countries such as the fishermen's issue can be sorted out in a friendly manner through discussions.

Answering a question raised by a journalist at a news conference last week, Minister Dullas Alahapperuma said that the internal matters of a country should be discussed within the country.

The 13th Amendment is not an exception and it should also be discussed in Parliament for a solution that satisfies all.

“The Opposition parties should first come to the Parliamentary Select Committee rather than level baseless allegations,” he said.

Parliamentarian Sajin Vass Gunawardena said the new Indian Prime Minister highlighted the value of Asia speaking with one voice in the international arena. He said that unity is vital to face international pressure.

Petroleum Industries Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa said that the UPFA will win the upcoming Uva Provincial Council election with a handsome majority. “Except in one Province, the UPFA did well in all other provinces during all previous Provincial Council elections,” Minister Yapa said.

He said the UPFA will retain its vote base and it could be a two thirds majority this time.

“The UPFA government has done a lot for the people in the Uva Province in the past,” the minister said. Minister Yapa said at the time the UPFA took over the province, the people living in the province were very poor.

“Some people in Badulla and Monaragala districts were the poorest of the poor. But now they are rich and not in that ‘poorest’ conditions any longer. People are rich today.

There is a big boost in their economic condition,” he said. Farmers benefited immensely during the UPFA regime.

They gained more during this regime which did not happen during previous regimes. President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the UPFA government are popular among the people. There is no doubt about the election victory, Yapa added.

TNA plays different games

Instead of beginning a dialogue with the Government to strengthen reconciliation and further develop infrastructure facilities in the North, the TNA, which was once remote-controlled by the LTTE from Wanni, has resorted to various tactics to indulge in their dirty politics.

The TNA is making every endeavour to open a dialogue with the UNP as well as Tamil Nadu state of India. Secret pacts with the TNA under the blessings of the LTTE rump were nothing new for the UNP and there is all possibility for securing another deal with the Tiger proxy party to strengthen Ranil candidature at the next Presidential election.

The TNA has also sought a meeting with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa Jeyaram. Congratulating Jayalalithaa for her success at India’s election winning 37 out of 39 seats in Tamil Nadu to represent Lok Sabha, TNA leader R. Sampanthan has sought an early appointment with Jayalalithaa.

“This indeed, is an astounding achievement and is indicative of the influence which you have the capacity to wield,” the TNA leader has said.

The TNA had expressed interest in working closely with her party, and requested her to prevail upon the newly elected government of India to bring about what the party called ‘honourable peace based on justice and equality’.

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