By Shamindra Ferdinando
Democratic Party Leader Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka has alleged that a national cricketer had requested him to switch his allegiance to the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the run-up to the January presidential election.
In a live political programme aired over Hiru on Monday night, Fonseka claimed that he had been offered a range of things, including 100 acres of land to quit the UNP-led alliance which backed common presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena.
The war winning commander declared that he wouldn’t have abandoned his struggle against the Rajapaksas under any circumstance.
Field Marshal Fonseka refrained from naming the cricketer. The Sinha Regiment veteran claimed that an organisation comprising Buddhist monks supportive of President Rajapaksa’s re-election campaign had also wanted him to quit the Opposition campaign.
Responding to a query, Fonseka asserted that their rapidly deteriorating political environment had prompted the Rajapaksas seek his help. Fonseka revealed his wife, Anoma had received a large number of text messages seeking rapprochement between him and Rajapaksa. A teary-eyed
Fonseka Fonseka said that he would never forgive the Rajapaksas for destroying his life. Recollecting harassment meted out to him and his family, he alleged his daughter’s marriage, too, had been ruined and irrevocable damaged caused to them. Fonseka alleged that his wife had been harassed and humiliated on many occasions.
When one of the three interviewers pointed out that he wouldn’t have had the opportunity to command the army if not for the Rajapaksas, Fonseka asserted that the Rajapaksa government couldn’t have achieved its military objectives without having him as the Commander of the army. Although the then President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga had chosen Maj. Gen. Shantha Kottegoda over him to be the commander of the army, President Kumaratunga had issued a specific circular to pave the way for him to continue in the rank of Maj. General until he could take over the army, Fonseka asserted.
One-time Chief of Defence Staff said that he was shocked and dismayed that the vast majority of the electorate continued to have faith in two major political parties, namely the UNP and SLFP, though they continued to field rogues at elections. Their supporters behaved as if they had been drugged, Fonseka said, adding that he was disappointed at the Democratic Party’s defeat at the recently concluded general election. “My party expected at least four or five seats,” Fonseka said, revealing that he hadn’t been able sleep for about two days in the wake of the humiliating defeat.
The Democratic Party failed to secure at least one seat. Asked whether the UNP and the SLFP had offered to accommodate him through the National List or he asked to be included, Fonseka answered in the negative. Fonseka emphasised that his effort was to bring about a significant change in the political arena. The war veteran said that he could have easily secured a powerful Cabinet portfolio by contesting the general election on the UNP ticket. Instead, the Democratic Party had felt the need to go it alone, Fonseka said while blaming the electorate for not being able to realise the urgent need to change the political environment.
Asked whether his tough approach had driven some of his supporters to desert him, Fonseka said that key members of major political parties, too, switched their allegiance to rival political parties on numerous occasions. Fonseka recalled 17 UNPers led by the then Deputy Leader of the party, Karu Jayasuriya joining President Rajapaksa. The Field Marshal said that both Tiran Alles and Arjuna Ranatunga left him after having entered parliament in April 2010 on the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) ticket. Under Fonseka’s leadership, the JVP, too, contested on the DNA ticket. The grouping managed to secure seven seats, including two National List slots. Having experienced severe difficulties while being in the DNA, Alles reached an understanding with the Rajapaksas, Fonseka said. Arjuna Ranatunga, who had been the deputy leader of the DNA had parted company in the wake of Fonseka visiting UNP Kalutara District MP Palitha Thewarapperuma.
Fonseka said: “I felt beholden to Palitha because he regularly visited me at Welikada, where I was held. But Ranatunga visited me once in four months. On one occasion, he accompanied other Opposition members of parliament. I promised Palitha to visit his electorate immediately after my release. But, Arjuna felt that would be disadvantageous to him because he too represented Kalutara.”
Fonseka lashed out at former DNA MP Jayantha Ketagoda as well as DNA Western Provincial Council member Susil Kindelpitiya for seeking personal benefit at the expense of the party. Fonseka accused Ketagoda of receiving a range of benefits from the previous government for undermining the Democratic Party.