JHU Parliamentarian Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thera had met former Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa for a special discussion last week, Justice Ministry sources told the Daily News yesterday.
The meeting had taken place at the Merchant Ward of the Colombo National Hospital where the former Minister is undergoing treatment.
The Minister was admitted to the hospital after the Kaduwela Magistrate’s Court ordered him to be remanded for 14 days.
The Minister was produced before court by the Police Financial Crimes Investigations Division for alleged misappropriation of Divineguma funds.
Hospital sources told the ‘Daily News’ that the discussion went on for nearly five years. They also added that it was a one-to-one discussion between the two Parliamentarians who represent the United People’s Freedom Alliance. When asked about the legal basis of this meeting, a senior official of the Ministry of Justice said a Parliamentarian could visit a remanded person at any time and it was permitted by law. However, the meeting is of political significance as Rathana Thera and Rajapaksa belonged to two rival camps at the last presidential election.
The JHU Parliamentarian also heads the ‘Pivithuru Hetak Jathika Sabhawa’, which was an active civil organization during the ;ast presidential election.
The meeting took place in a context where the JHU was planning to contest the forthcoming Parliamentary ticket under the UPFA ticket. Rajapaksa was the Gampaha District Leader of the UPFA at the last Parliamentary election and Rathana Thera too represented the same district. It was widely speculated among political sources that Rajapaksa was attempting to negotiate a “deal” between warring factions within the UPFA.
Although the Daily News attempted to get a comment from Ven. Rathana Thera in this regard, our attempts did not bear fruit.