We can easily secure close to 115 seats
UNF team leader Kandy District, Lakshman Kiriella :
The team leader of the United National Front (UNF) for Good
Governance, for the Kandy District, Lakshman Kiriella is confident of
the party sweeping the August 18 polls with a majority of over 115
seats, literally leaving the United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) led
by Mahinda Rajapaksa, in the dust with a 15% drop in their vote base.
Here he talks about the positive changes made in the last seven
months, development plans, creating investment opportunities and
prospects of a national government.
Q:The UNF and the UPFA
are engaged in a do or die battle to win the August elections. Are you
confident of its outcome?
A: I have no
doubt we will sweep the election. We can easily secure close to 115
seats. Once you lose a Presidential Election, you lose 15% of your vote
base at the subsequent election. That has been a pattern observed in the
past. The UPFA led by Mahinda Rajapaksa will face the same fate.
Q: Media highlighted a
leaked intelligence report that predicted a UNF victory before the
postal vote for teachers. Was it a tactic by the government to
manipulate the poll result?
A: I can speak
for the Kandy District. The UNF had secured an overwhelming 65 % of the
Q: What is your
opinion about former president Mahinda Rajapaksa enjoying special
privileges as another candidate in the fray?
situation has not arisen before. This is the first time a former
president is contesting a parliamentary election. We have to get an
opinion from the Supreme Court on this. But since he is a former
president, I personally feel that he should be given adequate security.
Q: Are you satisfied
with the government's score card on development, economy, law and order?
A: In the past
several months, as far as the economy is concerned, we have done much
more than what the previous government of Mahinda Rajapaksa did in ten
years. We reduced the cost of living effectively, addressed the pension
anomalies, cut down fuel prices to name a few. We have even given a
guaranteed price for tea and rubber. Today the Elections Commissioner is
free to function independently. Under the 19th Amendment he got a
certain amount of independence. We are not going to interfere with his
Q: Has the development
work come to a standstill or held up due to the election?
A: No. The day
before yesterday, we inaugurated the Colombo Kandy Expressway, which
will open up the entire country. Kandy is the centre of the country and
is the second capital. It should have been done ten years ago. When
Ranil Wickremesinghe was the Prime Minister in 2002, he was making plans
for the Central Expressway.
Q: Can you assure that
the development work already set in motion will continue undeterred if
the UNF comes to power?
A: It is not
only the development work already initiated, but many more new projects
will be inaugurated by the UNF Government. Many countries have come
forth to assist us.
They are waiting for the election results. Once there is a stable
government in place, the flood gates will open and the investments will
flow in. We have been able to restore rule of law and in turn investor
confidence, now what we need is a stable government.
Q: What would be your
first and foremost task, if there is a UNF government after the
A: There are
many proposals and projects in the pipeline, but I think bringing back
the genuine investors is the biggest task that lay ahead us. We need to
open up factories to employ the youth who are waiting for a decent
income. In the last five years 20 garment factories were closed down.
Q: You said your
government brought in a peaceful electioneering culture. How do you
explain the Bloemendhal shooting at a campaign event recently?
A: That was
clearly orchestrated to silence Ravi Karunanayake. There is no doubt
Q: Even though the
government accused the former president and his regime for corruption,
nepotism and stealing of State assets, none of these charges have been
proven beyond doubt. How can the voters know for sure that these
allegations are not mere political mud slinging?
A: We have
arrested so many people against whom we have evidence. Cases have been
filed against them. We have to follow the due process. We can neither
abduct people in white vans nor can we just drag people to courts, we
have to gather evidence.
Q: The UNP is
considering the option of a national government. So far the UPFA has
rejected the offer. In the event of a national government after the
polls,will you accommodate Mahinda Rajapaksaas well?
A: No, we will
form the national government with the help of a section of the UPFA.
There is an understanding to this effect.
Q: Is that the
understanding between UNF and the UPFA members?
A: Yes. There
are several who are willing to join us in my district also.
Q: The election heat
is gathering momentum. Will there be violence in the election run up?
Can the UNF commit to a peaceful election even under provocation?
A: The UPFA is
becoming highly desperate because they have hung on to power for so long
illegally. They are becoming frustrated by the day. But the security
forces will maintain the law and order.