Clergy in politics:
Bhikkhus with a vision should enter politics
- Wijemuni, Jana Setha
Accusing the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), now contesting under the 'Bodu
Jana Peramuna' flag for deceiving him, controversial personality,
Vijitha Rohana Wijemuni said only Bhikkus with a vision and discipline
should become parliamentarians not those who crave for power.
Wijitha Rohana Wijemuni
Pic: Ruwan de Silva
Wijemuni, the naval rating is remembered by many for his assault on
Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on July 30, 1987 at the President's
House, Colombo. He later became a political activist and a well-known
astrologer and is contesting the General Elections under the 'Jana Setha
"They BBS promised to make me the leader of the Gampaha District team
but changed the decision overnight for the benefit of a few.
"They will not win seats. So I am not worried about them," Wijemuni
told the Sunday Observer.
Q: You publicly stated that you are contesting from the 'Bodu Jana
Peramuna'. But currently you are conducting your campaign under the
'Jana Setha Peramuna'. Is it true that you had disagreements with the
Bodu Jana Peramuna' lead by the Bodu Bala Sena'?
The Bodu Bala Sena deceived me. Following discussions with the BBS, I
was given the responsibility of their Gampaha district team and they
promised to give me the leadership of the team. They even asked me to
fill up the nomination list for Gampaha.
They had only eight names and through a simple advertisement on my
Facebook profile, I managed to attract qualified people to be included
in the nomination list.
With the complete list, including my name as the leader, I went to
the BBS head-office at an auspicious time.
The one in charge of receiving nomination lists said that just the
previous day the Central Committee took a decision to make it compulsory
for Bhikkus to lead district teams and I cannot be the leader of the
Gampaha District team.
A policy decision was taken earlier that Bhikkus will not be allowed
to contest. I inquired from General Secretary, Galagoda Atthe Gnanasara
Thera over the phone about the confusing statement.
It was a change of policy decision taken overnight. But today one
could clearly see not all teams are led by Bhikkus.
For example, BBS Executive Committee member is leading the Gampaha
District team. It was evident that all the changes they made were to
satisfy their favourites and they made false promises to me and pushed
Q: What went wrong?
I heavily criticised former President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the BBS
media briefing held two weeks ago with BBS General Secretary, National
Organiser and Executive Committee member Dilantha Withanage in
attendance. I vehemently said that I oppose splitting the country and
heavily criticised former President Mahinda Rajapaksa as a failed
leader. I believe they never liked it, though I spoke the truth.
Q: There are several other political groups with a Sinhala Buddhist
base. Why did you choose the BBS?
Galagoda Atthe Gnanasara Thera told me about the new approach they
are to take in the General Elections. I agreed to his request to join as
a candidate. I led a group of my own for more than a decade that stood
firm for social and cultural rights of Sinhala Buddhists. I agreed with
BBS, based on the principles I already believed in.
The contribution to safeguard Buddhism by the other political parties
is not satisfactory compared to the long years of their presence in
politics. I thought BBS will have a new approach. It was clear that they
too are a part of dirty politics and are not here to serve the country.
Q: Do you agree on Bhikkus entering politics? A significant number of
Sinhala Buddhists do not agree.
Not all Bhikkus. But those who have a vision, discipline and a voice
strong enough to make a change must take their place in the country's