- SLFP (Maithiri) : Far more successful than expected – – Mahinda Amaraweera
- UNP : We won and Mahinda lost – – Sujeewa Senasinghe
- SLFP (Mahinda) : The largest crowd was for us – – Prasanna Ranatunga
- JVP : The best rally was ours – – Tilvin Silva
Far more successful than expected – – Mahinda Amaraweera
By Charmika Munasinghe
?Did the SLFP May Day Rally keep to your hopes and expectations?
A: Better than we even expected! More than the expected crowd participated. More than the estimated number of buses arrived in Galle.
?Will disciplinary action be taken against those parliamentarians who went to Kirulapone?
A: That decision is not to be made by either me or the President. A decision will be taken by the Central Working Committee. When the SLFP Central Committee meets, they will have an extensive discussion and if it is decided that certain action should be taken, it will be done.
?In the future too, will the Party go on two paths split in two similar to what happened at the May Day rally?
A: Those who engaged in deals to set up a new party will get separated. We will gather together everyone who loves the party and build a strong SLFP.
? As mentioned in the speeches made at Kirulapone is there any intention of arresting those who were named and imprisoning them?
A: No…that would have been because at times those who have conscience issues may have assumed such things. We have no intention of taking revenge from anyone. Neither President Maithripala Sirisena nor the government has any such intention. If I had killed a person and remained at home, all I would think of was that I would be arrested. That is the sort of fear they have. It is definite that the government has no intention to arrest such individuals. The President will not intervene. However, we do not know what will happen when Police carry out their duties. We have no such intention.
?If you were to compare the May Day Rally that was held as an Alliance and this time’s May Day Rally what is your view?
A: In comparison to last year’s May Day rally, there was a difference in us. A group from ours went there, too. As a party last time only the SLFP was on our platform, but this time we had about 20 parties who stood with us; this time more than 10 times the number of buses which came last year were attracted to Galle.
The best example is I who brought less than 10 buses last year, brought 157 bus loads this time.
?Were all these buses paid for?
A: All the buses from the SLTB were paid for, but only some of the private buses were paid for as they gave the buses of their own free will.
?We heard that the JVP cleaned the BRC Grounds, how about you all, will the Samanala Stadium also be cleared and cleaned?
A: Definitely, yes! We will remove the three massive stages that were put up and we will complete the cleaning.
We won and Mahinda lost – – Sujeewa Senasinghe
By Dilanka Gunatillaka
? Was UNP May Day rally successful?
A: Very successful! The only regret if at all is that we could not control the crowd. Although we expected to complete the May Day procession in around five hours, by 5 p.m. not even 20% 30% of the crowd had entered the Campbell Grounds.
?What was the focus of the United National Party’s May Day commemoration?
A: The people now feel with the dawn of good governance and democracy that there is freedom of action for everyone. That was not the feeling the people had previously. People believed that powerful individuals could carry out murders and engage in robberies and get away with it whereas the poor and downtrodden were helpless. Today the law is equally applied to everyone. At the same time, we have launched programmes to turn government institutions into profit making organizations. The people now feel, that a new country is being created.
? Why did the UNP decide to use the theme ‘National Rally of a Sacrificial People’?
A: People of this country made a huge sacrifice to change a government which lacked foresight. When power, wealth, murders, robberies, corrupt Provincial Council members and mayors ruled the country in a barbaric manner, people of this country became non political and made sacrifices to rescue the country from that grip and to establish democracy. We want to convey that we will ensure a secure tomorrow for those people and we conveyed that message at the May Day rally. As a result of the economic problems we have, the people of the country will have to make more sacrifices.
? On May Day, Parliamentarian Wimal Weerawansa said that the UNP’s May Day theme Sacrificial People was a reference to the people’s sacrifice of the fertilizer subsidy, school uniforms and proposed salary increase of government employees.
A: Wimal Weerawansa’s head needs to be examined. These are all what the people received. Mahinda Rajapaksa was there for 10 years and when did he ever increase salaries. We took over a country with an empty bank account. However, we properly granted all the relief to the people. Although, Mahinda had taken over the country completely, now Maithripala and Ranil have not done so, now, this country belongs to everyone.
? Mahinda Rajapaksa had named a list of items where the world market price has come down and that the prices have yet to be reduced in Sri Lanka. Is that correct?
A: Mahinda Rajapaksa need not remind us of those things. What he should be reminded of is the way he made money out of everything. About the money deposited in Dubai, and how he made money with Udayanga and others and how much he made out of the Hambantota Harbour. These are being revealed now.
?After seeing the crowd at Kirulapone and after listening to Mahinda’s speech there will be arrests and he mentioned Basil, Gotabhaya, Wimal and Namal wasn’t he alluding to political revenge?
A: Not political revenge but a list of names of thieves. He gave a hint. The reason is I would not say that I would be taken into custody. The most difficult task was to protect the thieves and murderers who were around him. Those who robbed will be taken into custody.
?Which rally was the most successful May Day Rally, the one in Galle, Kirulapone, Campbell Park or the one at BRC?
A: Our May Day Rally was the most successful. Those who came from my electorate could not enter the grounds until the rally was over. We heard that the May Day Rally in Galle was also very successful. The biggest defeat on May Day was for Mahinda Rajapaksa. It was on this May Day rally that the people’s stand was proven.
The largest crowd was for us – – Prasanna Ranatunga
By Dilanka Gunatillaka
? Was the May Day Rally of the Joint Opposition successful?
A: The Joint Opposition May Day rally was attended by groups who spent their own money and came voluntarily. Political analysts have analyzed, this as the May Day rally with the highest participation ever, in Sri Lanka. Others gathered crowds to the May Day using government privileges and power and intimidating government employees.
? Why did you use the theme “Let us breathe life to the people’s battle – the Joint May Day Rally of the people”?
A: It is the people who are rising with the situation that exists in the country today. It is to these people that we provide leadership. More than the politicians it is the people who are in the forefront today. Politicians are attempting to tell fairy tales. For example, President Maithripala while addressing his rally said that the Police informed him that the largest crowd had come to Galle. Ranil Wickremesinghe says that the largest crowd came to their rally. Who is telling the truth and who is lying? Who are we to believe? However, what the Joint Opposition engaged in was a meeting organized by the people. What we did was only provide guidance and leadership.
? Leaders of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party met on the 2nd it was said to be about a decision on you all, if that happens what will you do?
A: We will just wait until a decision is taken; and after that decision is taken, decide on what we should do.
?Actually, why are you all violating party discipline in this manner?
A: We did not violate party discipline. We cannot move forward with those who are propping up and supporting foreign forces. People voted for us to establish a government of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party. So, if we attended a May Day Rally of a group who supports the government, problems could arise.
?Although you speak of an SLFP Government, the Chairman of the Party, President Maithripala Sirisena speaks of this government continuing until 2020?
A: That is the problem we have. Although the Chairman of the Party has no interest in bringing the Party to power, those who love the Party like us have some feelings and hurt about it. Whatever party leaders’ say people power can bring down the government.
?Although Mahinda Rajapaksa named a list of persons who will be next arrested, the UNP discounted it saying it’s a list of thieves?
A: Prior to May Day, United National Party Parliamentarians and Ministers declared the verdicts the Courts will issue. They said that Namal Rajapaksa and Gotabhaya will be arrested. It was about that, that we spoke on our platform. It just shows the extent of the impact that this government is having on the judiciary. Ministers of the UNP are aware of the verdicts which will be given by Courts. That is why ministers are saying without fear that so and so will be taken into custody.
The best rally was ours – – Tilvin Silva
By Charmika Munasinghe
?Was the May Day rally of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna as successful as you thought it would be?
A: Actually as a Party we were able to hold a massive May Day rally. It was a very attractive rally. The JVP was able to hold an organized May Day rally with the participation of a massive crowd. At the same time, the General Secretary of the World Federation of Trade Unions Georges Mavrikos also participated in this rally. Considering all that we can be happy that we held a very successful May Day rally.
?As Parliamentarian Anura Dissanayake said wasn’t there anyone who was intoxicated at this rally, at all?
A: In the entire history of May Day rallies of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna no one has ever smoked cigarettes or got drunk and danced. This has been maintained not only at this May Day rally but right throughout. All the May Day rallies, which have been held so far have been disciplined ones. Everyone who has seen processions and rallies of our party know that. Also, we clean up the places after the rally is over.
?So, that means the BRC Grounds was cleaned up?
A: Most definitely, yes! We do not allow any grounds we use to be left dirty and unclean. We do not throw bottles and garbage around and destroy the environment. By now the grounds have been completely cleaned. Once the stages are removed we will hand back the grounds in the same condition as when it was provided to us.
?How was the rally at the BRC Grounds in comparison to the other May Day rallies held at Galle, Kirulapone and Campbell Park?
A: Other parties held May Day rallies to display strength and power, and the slogans there were not of workers or of the working public. The boards they were holding up had photos of various leaders and what they said was ‘Jaya wewa’ to them! However, the rally of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna was different, our slogan was ‘Jaya wewa’ to the workers. We held the May Day rally with the common objective of winning the rights of the working people. That is the difference between us and the others. Actually it was only we who held a proper May Day rally with a genuine focus on the ideals of May Day. We did not make it into a general election meeting but protected the identity of the Workers’ Day.
?In comparison to last year’s is there any progress in this year’s JVP May Day rally?
A: Actually there was greater participation this time compared to last year. It took more than two hours for the people to enter the grounds, that itself is an indicator of the success this year.
?Now that the May Day rallies have ended, what does the JVP intend doing on behalf of the country?
A: We have two objectives. We mentioned them at the May Day rally. One is to win over the rights of the people and to launch a struggle and to fight to get the tax burden off and prices of oil and other goods reduced and the other is to battle against the rights of the people and on behalf of democracy. Meantime, we intend to overturn the existing administration and to establish an administration that can build a new economy and a new society. We expect to gather together a massive people’s force. From today we will work towards that.