“MAHINDA’s comeback affected us” – K.D. Lal Kantha

Former Janatha Vimukti Peramuna (JVP) Provincial Councillor K.D. Lal Kantha in an interview with the Daily Mirror said the party could not achieve the expected results at the General elections as it was as crucial as the Presidential election. Unlike other general elections, people had to decide whether to appoint former President Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Prime Minister or not.
He said although there were issues with regard to the national list within the party, the two members who were appointed through the National list were appointed unanimously. Also he said the JVP took a different line in their campaign this time in order to reach the groups of people whom they could not approach earlier.Furthermore, the former Western Provincial Councillor said he resigned from the Council as he needed to engage in the national politics and his position in the Council was an obstacle. He had the following to share with the Daily Mirror
Q Although the JVP claims that they are the only alternate option people have, people seemed to have rejected them at the General elections and it managed to get only six seats. Why is that?

On January 8, we had a very crucial Presidential election. The main division of votes in that election was based on the two factors either to win or defeat Mahinda Rajapaksa. People were able to defeat him. Although he was defeated, MR wanted to become the Prime Minister and be back in power.  The voters again had to decide his fate.  In general, a Parliamentary election does not look like this.  Therefore we did not receive the number of votes we expected as the people might have feared that MR would regain power. Still, in spite of this situation, we received more than five hundred thousand votes and were able to secure six seats in Parliament.
Our aim in politics is not just merely to get a parliamentary seat. Our aim is to go far beyond that. Although we did not get the anticipated result, people gave us some sort of a victory. They have lifted us from where we were. For which we are grateful.

70485_anura-kumara-disanayaka-pic-by-sarath-30Q Was there an issue with regard to the National list?

Issues like these arise due to the greed for seats in Parliament. A person who joins a movement like the JVP, should keep aside his/her personal agendas. It is essential to focus on national issues besides personal gains. Out of 29 people who were in the national list, 28 were of the opinion that people who could not secure sufficient votes to get elected to Parliament yet, welcomed for their principles and who had worked hard on behalf of the party must be appointed through the national list.

The purpose behind the national list is to appoint better people. Although one person had an issue, we decided to appoint Sunil Handunnetti and Mayadunne through the National list. This was a unanimous decision by the Party. Also with regard to the national list, we do not list 29 people because of any specialty. All of them are special. But some are of the view that if we get two seats from the national list, the first two persons appear in the list should be appointed. It is the Party which decides who should be appointed.

 “Since I engage in national Politics, I am unable to perform my duties as a Provincial Councillor. If I continue, it is an injustice to the people. Because they need to have access to the representatives they had chosen. Also the PC commitments hinder my involvement in national politics”

Q  But the JVP has always said that the party would not appoint people who were defeated through the national list.  However, they appointed Sunil Handunnetti. What are your views on it? And also was there any controversy about the national list where Attorney-at-Law Chrishmal Warnasuriya openly criticized the Party’s decision?

There was a reason why we opposed on appointing people who were defeated to get in to Parliament through the National list. At one point, both the main parties brought people through the national list who were not suitable to be in the political arena.   As I said earlier, the purpose of the national list that gives the opportunity to the party to elect better and more suitable people.
I challenge, and believe that we have appointed two of the best members around.

As I mentioned earlier, people who work with a movement like JVP has to focus on the main objectives of the Party and not their personal interests. The two members appointed through the national list were made by the common consensus of the majority of the party.

Q Are you disappointed that you could not enter Parliament through the National list?

Never, in my life I had never got disappointed for not getting a seat in Parliament. The Party, people and the country know that throughout I have been in active politics. I engage in politics regardless of whether I win a seat in Parliament or not, also I don’t need to go to Parliament to fulfil my obligations towards the Party and to the country. I can still serve the people as a party member.

It was we who decided to appoint Sunil Handunnetti. There was no way that we could bring about objections to our own decision. It is our duty to support the Party to work on its collective decisions.  I lost my seat in Parliament in 2010. But from then onwards I had never failed to perform my duties. For instance, our Party Secretary, comrade Tilvin Silva played a major role in the election campaign. But he is not someone who had even contested. Therefore one should not judge the JVP on par with other parties.  We represent a different culture.

“JVP became overwhelmingly popular after Anura Dissanayake was appointed as the Party leader.  People had new hopes and trust. We built connections with various people in society which we didn’t have earlier. Honestly speaking, we had a victory which goes beyond the election results on August 17”

Q  You have resigned as a PC member. What is your next step?

While I was engaging in national politics, and due to some downfall on the party level, the party itself had decided that I should contest for the PC. Also current leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake was appointed as the leader at the same time.

Since I engage in national Politics, I am unable to perform my duties as a Provincial Councillor. If I continue, it is an injustice to the people. Because they need to have access to the representatives they had chosen. Also the PC commitments hinder my involvement in national politics. Therefore the Party and I had decided to resign from the PC. The decision was taken two months ago. It was prior to the elections that I sent the letter of resignation. However, I was informed that the letter had not reached the council. Hence, I handed over the letter of resignation personally.

At present, we are experiencing a new political situation in the country. We have to be compatible. We have six elected MPs. Three out of the six are new to Parliament. There are huge responsibilities ahead of them. Therefore the members who are not in Parliament also must carry on.

Also there is a need for a social construction process too.  MR should have done these after 2010. Instead, he was looking at his personal interests. He let his associates exploit the country’s resources. Now the time has come and the opportunity is there. We need to force the present government, and for that, we need a wide civil society participation.  It was the involvement of the civil society that paved the way for  many positive changes within the past few months.

Q Although the JVP claims all the decisions were taken by the leadership, there seem to be a mysterious hand or foreign force controlling the JVP. Is that true?

No, no one can control the JVP. If we were controlled, we wouldn’t have been able to have our own identity.  Nor any foreign force can involve in our affairs.

Q Recently Somawansa Amarasinghe, the former JVP leader said that he had regretted passing the leadership to Anura Kumara Dissanayake. What are your comments on this?

JVP became overwhelmingly popular after Anura Dissanayake was appointed as the Party leader.  People had new hopes and trust. We built connections with various people in society which we didn’t have earlier. Honestly speaking, we had a victory which goes beyond the election results on August 17.  We reached many, and we expressed ourselves in many forums. All these things happened under his leadership. He is a great leader and we shall have faith in him in future. Also he will continue to do a great service to the Party and people.

“Never, in my life I had never got disappointed for not getting a seat in Parliament. The Party, people and the country know that throughout I have been in active politics. I engage in politics regardless of whether I win a seat in Parliament or not”

Q JVP’s election campaigning took a new turn this time. There were addresses to the business community, corporate sector and they had lavish functions at star class hotels. What was this change all about?

Without having a rapport with all these sectors, it would be difficult to get in to power, and  even if we get in to power, it would be hard to maintain the power we would got.  The Business community and artistes are part of it. If we were not closer to them, we would not be welcomed.  We had never got the opportunity to get closer to them. It is the business community that creates various platforms in society.  That was why I said that we needed to have strong links with the parties outside Parliament.

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