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We are the national force demanding LG elections - Dinesh Gunawardena

The union between some sections of the SLFP and the UNP cannot be healthy for the country, because they are more or less under the dictates of the UNP. There is nothing that the SLFP represents today in the Government except for a few personalities.

Joint Opposition Leader Dinesh Gunawardena says, all anti-UNP forces in the Joint Opposition (JO) are now working towards forming the grand anti-UNP joint movement to save the nation and instil a sense of confidence in the movement. This is our ultimate goal. In an interview with the Sunday Observer, the veteran politician Gunawardena said, there is a dire need to protect the country, its unitary state and what the masses have so far won. This is the highest priority for the country, today. To accomplish it, the country needs a strong political movement.

Q: Are all arrangements in place for forming a new party or an alliance?

A: We have been planning a common platform and a common alliance since January 8 last year when we opposed the UNP led political conspiracy. Now, it is taking a definite turn. We have been marshalling the forces in the JO for over a year now.

Fifty one members of the UPFA have stood together having weathered all storms, opposing the Governmentís reactionary moves. We will take it forward to a broader political organazational structure.

Q: What is the purpose of forming a new party or alliance at this stage?

A: We donít wish to disclose the political structure. But, there is an urgent necessity to protect the country, its unitary state and what the people have won so far, countering all undemocratic forces. It is the highest priority for the nation, today. To fulfil this, the country needs a well-founded political movement.

Q: Some critics and SLFP Ministers also say, you are trying to divide the SLFP. Your comments?

A: They have been saying so since January 8. But, they are the very politicians who betrayed the peopleís mandate and joined the UNP for their benefit.

However, when the General Election was announced, we went round the country and effectively formed a strong political platform. The people rallied round former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, demanding him to lead them to victory. So what are they talking today?

Q: By forming a new party, wonít you be helping the UNP, by dividing the SLFP votes?

A: It is really up to the people. Their problems gave us the right to form a new political movement and nobody could stop it as it was the peopleís aspirations. A river always flows smoothly whatever the obstacles ahead of it, as the saying goes.

Some say, the aim of forming a new party is to bring back the Rajapaksas to power. Your comments?

A: I think, even the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, has not said so. But, the road this Government is taking is harmful to national sovereignty, independence, unitary state and to the economy. Their overall performance shows they are incapable of maintaining an efficient economy.

Critics say, most of the JO members face corruption charges against them, and they want to return to power to get those charges removed. Your comments?

A: People are at liberty to blame any politician in the Opposition. Even the late Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike who was recognized by the non-aligned nation as their leader was harassed and blamed in this manner. But,truth will finally reveal who is right. No one is guilty unless pronounced guilty by a court of law.

Why do you say that a union between the UNP and the SLFP is not healthy for the country?

A: The union between some sections of the SLFP and the UNP cannot be healthy for the country, because they are more or less under the dictates of the UNP. There is nothing that the SLFP represents today in the Government except for a few personalities. The UNP which has the final say implements its own policies.

Suppose you form a new party or an alliance and contest future elections, what are the main issues that you will focus on, during the polls campaign?

A: No such party has been formed yet. So I cannot comment.

Q: Where do you aim to be, in the political landscape? As the third force?

A: I donít think there is a third force, it is the formation of our force that will come into power. One side of the force is the UNP-SLFP combination, and all anti-UNP forces are now in the JO working towards forming the grand anti-UNP joint movement, to save the nation and ensure a better future for the country. This is our goal.

Q: Generally, it is difficult for breakaway political parties to be successful. We have seen what happened to parties such as the DUNF of Lalith and Gamini. Will your party be any different?

A: It is up to the people to wait patiently and see if the Government holds Local Government elections, which it has been postponing, as it is afraid of the voters. We are not afraid, we are calling upon the Government and the UNP to hold elections without further delay. Those who are running away with the peopleís verdict have to face the consequences of their actions, not us.

We are the only political force and political platform demanding the LG elections which have been denied to the people, today. We are aware that hundred percent of our councilors will not be victorious, and that UNPers will also be elected to the Local Government bodies.

The average UNPer and the people in the North also want to hold the LG elections as early as possible. Therefore, we have become the national force calling for democratic Local Government elections, in the interest of the voters.

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