Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Management and Leader of the House, Nimal Siripala De Silva refused to speak on behalf of the government regarding the JHU’s decision.“You should ask this question from the president,” he said before hanging up.
“Doors open to put country above positions” – Gayantha Karunathilake
Galle District United National Party (UNP) Parliamentarian Gayantha Karunathilake pointed out the JHU’s decision to leave the government on principle had been made as the UPFA government had failed to honor its promise to abolish the executive presidency.
He said the UNP saw the JHU’s move as a positive initial step in a wide-ranging effort to defeat President Mahinda Rajapaksa and abolish the executive presidency.
“In following through with this decision, the JHU has opened the door for other progressive elements within the government. These elements would now have no option, but to put the country above their positions,” he opined.
“Loss of fiery speaker a big blow” – Dr. Jehan Perera
National Peace Council of Sri Lanka Executive Director Dr. Jehan Perera also deemed the JHU’s move as being a big blow for the government as it has now lost one of its most passionate partners.
Dr. Perera also opined the move has weakened one of the government’s main political platforms which have been that the country needs to remain strong and centralized to counter the resurgent LTTE threat. “The JHU has stressed that the main threat now is not the LTTE, but issues with good governance. As such it weakens the government’s platform,” he added.
He further said the loss of fiery speakers of the JHU would also be a blow to the government as its MPs are now likely to be challenged in parliament by them.
Dr. Perera agreed that the door had now been opened for others to also leave the government. “Of course, there will be crossovers both ways. However, a trend has now been set,” he observed.
“Govt. knows tide is changing” – KD Lalkantha
The JVP Western Provincial Council Member KD Lalkantha said that we can only tell what the JHU has said in public. Accordingly the party decided to leave because the earlier agreements between them and the government were not fulfilled. Whatever it is, this is a mighty blow for the government.
This blow cannot be counted by the number of seats the JHU has or the number of votes it can gain. The damage must be counted according to the psychological impact this move has on the Sinhala-Buddhist vote base the Rajapaksa government has relied upon.
After the elections in Western and Southern Provincial Councils, and then even more is Uva Election, the government knows that the tide is changing. It is not because the opposition has mounted a serious challenge. It is the people that have shown their opposition, even though there has not been an exceptionally strong campaign by the opposition. This has made the government apprehensive.
The government is trying to get as many forces as it can under its fold, by whatever means, including intimidation. The government tried it even with Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera. At such a juncture, the move by the JHU will be an added strength to other people who are disgruntled by the government’s policies and want to leave. Therefore, this is a great blow. Actually, this can be termed as the greatest internal blow to the present government to date.
“It will be difficult for the Govt. to survive” – Nandana Gunathilaka
Former Panadura Urban Council Chairman and Sri Lanka Freedom Party Kalutara District Organizer Nandana Gunathilaka said that the moving away of the JHU from the UPFA government was a critical blow for the government.
Gunathilaka argued that the JHU was an integral part of the UPFA government. At a critical moment, it was the JHU which represented the side which argued the LTTE should be defeated militarily. JHU was the first group to stand up for this idea. As such, part of the credit for the war victory should go to the JHU. “How can the act of leaving by such a party not have an effect on the Mahinda Rajapaksa government?” Gunathilaka asked, adding that it was difficult for the Rajapaksa government to survive without groups like the JHU.
Gunathilaka also said that even though the JHU members were still officially UPFA parliamentarians, it does not matter since the JHU has promised to work to defeat Mahinda Rajapaksa in the forthcoming presidential election. “Where do they sit within the parliament will not matter,” he said.
“Working with UPFA from now onwards” – Madhumadhava Aravinda
Popular artiste and former JHU Gampaha District Organizer Madhumadhava Aravinda has stated that it was JHU Chairman Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thera that pushed leaders such as Patali Champika Ranawaka and Udaya Gammanpila ‘out onto the streets.’
Speaking at a press conference a few hours after the JHU announced its landmark decision to resign from government positions, Aravinda announced that he will work with the UPFA from there onwards.
He stated that Ven. Rathana Thera imposed the ‘Pivithuru Hetak’ organizations’s agenda on the JHU and made the JHU follow the agenda. It is basically a political program of Rathana Thera, Aravinda alleged.
“Happy that JHU left Govt.” – Prabha Ganesan
Democratic People’s Congress Leader and Deputy Minister of Telecommunication and Information Technology Prabha Ganesan said that as a leader of the Tamil people, he is happy that the JHU has left the government.
He said that the presence of groups like the JHU has been a challenge to find a solution to the national question.
Ganesan added that his party can attract more votes than the JHU and what has prevented them from doing so was the presence of groups like the JHU in the government.
“A right step forward” – Suresh Premachandran
Tamil National Alliance (TNA) said that the decision by the JHU members to resign from their Ministerial portfolios held in the Government could be a right step forward as far as the Sinhalese population is concerned.
“It could be looked as the right step forward as far as the Sinhalese are concerned, especially with the Presidential elections on the cards. However, it does not mean anything as far as the Tamils are concerned, as the JHU is considered against our views,” he said.
“Govt. knows might of the enemy” – Victor Ivan
Former Ravaya Editor Victor Ivan said that resignation from the ministerial posts by the Jathika Hela Urumaya is a challenge to the UPFA government, because the JHU is an allied party to the government. If they left the government and challenged the President, it is very clear, that the government knows the might of the enemy.
The challenge to defeat the President Rajapaksa at a presidential election cannot be neglected as they are still with the government. Who knows how many will go against the government at the last minute?, he pointed out.
Compiled by Deepal Warnakulasuriya, Arthur Wamanan, Sandun Jayawardana and ChamaraSumanapala
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