By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan
A close confidant of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, former National List MP and Vice President of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan aka Karuna Amman says the UPFA cheated him, the man who helped immensely to win the war. “If not for me, the people in the South would not be able to walk about freely, as I was the one who contributed mostly to win the war,” former LTTE militant told Ceylon Today.
?What are you doing these days?
?You recently attended a function that Mahinda Rajapaksa was also in attendance and wowed that you would continue to support him. Why are you silent now?
A: I liked former President Mahinda Rajapaksa as a person. He stopped the war and saved people’s lives.
?What is it that you don’t like about him?
A: He failed to fulfil the aspirations of the Tamils after the war. I had been insisting on him to release the land takenover by the military, return Sampur land and resettle the people soon. But, he did not do it. Instead, I received an official letter stating that land could not be released due to ‘security reasons’. That was the reason for his downfall.
?What is the downfall?
A: He lost the love and affection of the Tamils and President Maithripala Sirisena who returned part of the land in Sampur gained the trust of the Tamils. Rajapaksa neglected the Tamils.
?But you continued to support him knowing all this. Why was that?
A: None of us wanted a split in the SLFP and the UPFA. The Central Committee in which I am a member decided President Sirisena and Mahinda Rajapaksa should unite and work for the party. I must also say something about that function you just mentioned where I was greeted by Mahinda Rajapaksa. I was invited to attend that function.
?Why aren’t you contesting the general election?
A: The UPFA asked me, but I refused as I knew what the results would be. Giving nomination to Mahinda Rajapaksa to contest the general election ruined the little chance that the UPFA had of winning the Tamil vote in the Eastern Province. I also didn’t want to split the votes that would go to the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the party that the Tamils have always accepted.
?Why are you supporting the TNA?
A: The TNA has taken a decision to support the government lately unlike before when they were against any and every decision that the government took. I am committed to work for the Tamils and I did not enter politics for personal gains. As long as the demands of any Tamil party are met, I am happy.
?Does the SLFP believe that giving nomination to Rajapaksa has ruined the UPFA’s chance of winning the votes in the East?
A: Yes. They understand that it is not possible to win and promised me a place in the National List.
?So you welcome the TNA now?
A: Yes, and I see them better than before.
?What happened to the promise of a National List placement?
A: I can clearly state that it was Susil Premajayantha and Anura Priyadarshana Yapa who promised me openly and I found that my name was dropped from the list now.
?Do you feel cheated?
A: Yes. They could have told me. I did not ask for a place in the National List. If they make a promise they should not breach it. I have stood by the party all the time. This letdown is terrible. I know it was Basil Rajapaksa and Susil Premajayantha who cut my name off the List. Basil Rajapaksa was the one who ruined Mahinda Rajapaksa’s political career. He should not interfere in politics and ruin it further.
? You seem to be having ill-feelings about Basil Rajapaksa?
A: From the beginning I distanced myself from him. His ‘ways’ contributed to Mahinda Rajapaksa’s defeat.
?Did you ask them why they removed your name?
A: I don’t want to go behind them. They should understand who I am, and the service I have rendered to the people in the East, and that should not be forgotten.
?Who are you?
A: Today, it is because of me that the people in the South are able to walk about freely. I helped win the war. If not for my support, there will be no peace yet. The bloody war would be continuing. My contribution to win the war has been immense, but now it is forgotten by the so called politicians who are supporting hooligans by giving them nominations.
?You mean that you defected from the LTTE camp and supported the government to ‘finish’ the war?
A: Yes. I came out because I did not want to see my community being destroyed. Tamils dying in vain was proved beyond point. I knew lots of Eastern boys were sacrificing for the LTTE and that changed my mind.
?Yet, after your ‘walkout’ from the LTTE, you were branded as a traitor. Will you accept that?
A: Let anything be said. I could not stand the killing of the Tamils in the name of war and so I quit. Today, like me, many are doing politics and branding only me as a traitor is unwarranted. Look around, from the JVPers, to some TNA members, they were all fighters.
?What is your opinion about the Crusader for Democracy, a group of ex- militants planning on contesting the election?
A: I welcome them. They should be involved in something that would benefit the Tamil people. Let it be anybody, I welcome their spirit.
?Who are the hooligans given nomination by the UPFA you are referring to?
A: I don’t want to reveal the names but persons who are still wanted for murders, hooch and alcohol dealers and unknown persons are given nominations.
?Are you happy about Mahinda Rajapaksa being given nomination?
A: I am happy. It was a collective decision.
?Will he win?
A: President Sirisena’s sensible speech may not give Mahinda Rajapaksa a comeback. I doubt.
?What was so sensible about that speech?
A: He stood for something and he is standing by it till today. He left Rajapaksa camp for a reason and he cannot revert. He will look a fool and utter disgrace if he did that. He delivered what was expected by the masses. I was not shocked.
?What are you going to do now? Are you quitting politics?
A: I spoke to the President recently over the phone and he said that he did not know that my name was removed from the National List. I will be meeting him again. I am still in the central committee of the SLFP. I was not sacked from the party or from my positions. I will discuss with them and decide my next move.
?Will you work for the President?
A: Why not? He is my Leader.
?Will you join the UNP if they call you?
A: I will, because Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and I have never crossed our paths. We are on good terms and he knows me well and I know him well too. I can work with him too.
?What if both parties don’t want you? What will be your next move?
A: Then I have to re-plan my political life but definitely I will not quit politics. Eastern people still want me and I have served them and will continue to serve them.