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UNP sure of victory at a National Election - Western Provincial Councillor Niroshan Padukka

The United National Party founded by its leader D.S. Senanayake way back in 1946, had been a formidable political force since its inception till about the beginning of the new century. However, it experienced ups and downs in between but never remained in the Opposition for more than one parliamentary term prior to 1994. Since then its performances in the national politics has suffered badly mainly due to the atrocities committed by the ruthless LTTE. Following the repeated defeats suffered by the party, quite naturally the internal conflicts also erupted further driving the party to political doldrums.


Niroshan Padukka

In this backdrop the party hierarchy with the unanimous approval of the working committee and its stakeholders fully reorganised the party structure to regain the lost glory of the party. With its reorganisational activities the party had already shown some improvement with the results of the last provincial council election.

At present all the front runners of the party had buried their petty differences and work as a single unit to capture power at a future national election which could be held probably by the end of next year.

The Sunday Observer conducted an exclusive interview with one of the upcoming Provincial Councillors in the Western PC, Niroshan Padukka to ascertain the present position of the party, its activities and how they hope to launch the campaign to woo support of the people at a future election and the general political situation in the country.

Excerpts of the interview:

Q: You are representing the WPC as a member for the third consecutive term. Do you think that you have rendered enough service to the people of the WPC as a member?

A: As an Opposition PC member we get only a megre allocation from the council funds to work for the people in the province. However, it doesn't mean that we totally depend on it to work for the people in the area. I have lot of other schemes from which I draw funds to work for the people.

Apart from the material benefits that we provide to the people, as Opposition members our duty is to monitor the activities of the ruling party for better governance.

There had been a number of occasions in the past that we objected to some of the people- unfriendly measures that UPFA was trying to implement and they were forced to withdraw them although they had a clear majority in the council.

Q: Some political critics say that PCs are a white elephant and it should be abolished and more powers should be vested with the Local Government bodies? How do you respond to this allegation?

A: Well the PC system was introduced way back in 1987 by the then leader of the country J.R. Jayewardene under the 13th Amendment to the Constitution as a solution to the long-drawn out North East problem. Since then it was deeply rooted in the entire political fabric of the country. SLFP and JVP who outright rejected it when it was first introduced, have now embraced it more than even the UNP. PC system has now become virtually indispensable in Sri Lankan politics.

I personally think that the Provincial Councils can do a great service to the country provided the ruling party, whatever it may be honestly and transparently discharge their functions without resorting to corruption.

Q: There is also an allegation by some quarters that senior parliamentarians of both major parties have used the PCs as a breeding ground for their siblings to enter parliament in future. Do you agree with this?

A: Seniors grooming their siblings to replace them in politics had been there from the inception of party system in the country. Not only in Sri Lanka, even in other countries there are enough instances where the children of politicians had entered politics. Before the PC system was introduced some senior parliamentarians groomed their children through local bodies and most of them ended up as successful national politicians. I don't personally think that it is a bad thing provided the children are seriously interested in working for their people.

But most unfortunately what has happened today is that most of the parliamentarians are hellbent on getting the candidature for their sons and daughters whether they are interested in politics or not.

Q: What is happening in your party with regard to Uva PC elections scheduled to be held shortly?

A: We had been anxiously waiting for this election as we are pretty sure that we would be victorious. Our party had already prepared the nomination list with a formidable and vibrant set of winning candidates headed by the young and most popular Harin Fernando who is sure to deliver the goods.

Q: You are a well qualified Chartered Marketeer and a banker. What made you to involve in this cumbersome profession of politics when you can enjoy a rosy life with your profession?

A: Well, the social service has been in my blood from my school days and I derive a great satisfaction by attending to peoples needs.

I have my roots in the United National Party. My uncle was the one time treasurer of our party.

My father lost only by five votes to Samaraweera Chandrasiri at the local polls in early sixties. I became the Secretary of the UNP Youth League in Colombo district in 1994 at a comparatively young age. Two of my colleagues then Dhanasiri Amaratunga and Muditha Peiris left our party.

Q: It is the bone of contention in political circles at present that a common candidate should be fielded at the next Presidential Election. What is your party's stand on that?

A: Our party has very clearly stated whoever the candidate may be, he should be from the United National Party under the elephant symbol. If any party is agreeable it can also join us.

Q: In that case JVP may not align with you to field a common candidate?

A: If they had supported Chandrika Bandaranaike and Mahinda Rajapaksa at previous elections on the promise of abolishing the Executive presidency, why can't they support the UNP on the same undertaking? There is no rationale behind it?

The JVP has completed 50 years in politics now and still they have only 7% of voter support. They should realise their position and if they are genuinely interested in abolishing the Executive presidency they should support the UNP even at this eleventh hour without resorting to unrealistic tactics.

Q: In the event of a victory for your party at the Presidential Election, what is the guarantee that Ranil Wickremesinghe will abolish the Executive Presidency?

A: Our party has already formulated a draft constitution for the country as directed by our leader and I am 200 percent certain that he never goes back on what he says. He had proved in the past that he was a thorough democrat.

Q: What are your chances of winning the next national election?

A: With the prevailing political and economic situation in the country, and with our party's reorganisational activities and the far sighted political strategies that we have in the pipeline we are quite confident that we can form a UNP government at the next national election-may it be the presidential or general.

Q: You are the UNP Chief Organiser of the Kesbewa electorate and your former boss is a powerful minister in the cabinet. Do you think that you can win the electorate for the party at a future election?

A: How many senior and powerful ministers had been defeated in the previous elections in the country due to wrong economic policies of the governments and various other factors which the average and moderate people do not approve. With our reorganisational activities, we can definitely mobilise the masses against this government and win the next election.

 

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