BY W. K. PRASAD MANJU
United National Party (UNP) Gampaha District candidate Harshana Rajakaruna in a brief chat with Ceylon Today says that Media personnel were attacked and taken away in white vans during the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime. “Media institutions were destroyed. We are fearful of another administration led by Mahinda Rajapaksa being given the reins again, for one family ruling the country, using State property as though their personal booty and isolating Sri Lanka from the international community.”
Here are some excerpts:
?Leaders of the Alliance are saying that the UNP has gotten scared after seeing the huge crowd that attended the inaugural rally of the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), in Anuradhapura?
A: There are no two words about that. We are scared of Mahinda Rajapaksa coming back into power. We are not scared of the person Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The fear we have is that the country will be ruled once again in the manner that it was during Mahinda Rajapaksa’s time. Media personnel were attacked and taken away in white vans. Media institutions were destroyed. We are scared of another of administration by Mahinda Rajapaksa coming again, for one family ruling the country, using State property as property of that family and isolating Sri Lanka from the international community. That is why we are working towards not allowing such an administration to come back into power.
?There are separatist organizations behind the UNP, which are carrying out the remaining work from 8 January and spending huge sums of money to bring the UNP back to power. These accusations are being made by the UPFA?
A: This story is being continued from several years back. It is an old record which is being replayed.
They cannot replay those warped records and mislead the public of this country once again. The UNP suffered the most loss of life caused in attacks brought upon by the LTTE. How many members of our party were assassinated by the Tiger organization? Ranasinghe Premadasa, Gamini Dissanayake, Lalith Athulathmudali, Ranjan Wijeratne, Weerasinghe Mallimarachchi, Dr. Gamini Wijesekera, G. H. Premachandra and many other leaders were killed by the Tigers. Therefore, our party does not have anything to do with either the Tiger organization or separatist forces. I reject those accusations entirely. We are not a party that divides the nation. It is our party that ushers unity nationally. That is why it is called the United National Party.
? Ranasinghe Premadasa provided arms to the Tiger organization. Ranil Wickremesinghe signed a ceasefire agreement. The UPFA says that while there is such a history, it was the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa who provided the leadership and spoke to the Tiger organization in a language they understood and completely defeated terrorism.
A: The UNP does not speak in a language that terrorists understand. The UNP speak in a language that the Tamil people understand, that Sinhala Buddhists understand and that Muslim people understand too. The UNP will not allow room for any Sinhala, Tamil, or Muslim terrorism. We are going on a journey together with all Sri Lankans. During the past when the Tiger organization was banned Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Government was unable to get the European Union to maintain the ban on this organization continuously. During the past few months, it was our government that ensured the continuation of this ban. It is Wimal Weerawansa and others who are accusing us without any basis. They believe that if they raise issues of racism, differences in religion that they can win everyday. The people did not get cheated on the 8 January by these ruses. Neither will they be cheated by them now.
?What is the guarantee your party can give the people on behalf of this country that terrorism will not occur again under a UNP government?
A: Two or three people in my circle lost their lives due to actions of the Tiger organization. Therefore, I felt the shock of terrorism far more than those who are yelling and pretending. What the UNP requires is to get all races together and move forward as a country. I can say with responsibility that the UNP will not act in any way that will create terrorism or separatism in this country.
? Bandula Gunawardena is questioning that while approximately 1.5 million jobs have already been lost under the present government, how can Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe promise that a million new jobs will be provided?
A: This is only a feeble attempt to stir up fear that does not exist. Bandula Gunawardena is trying to propagate fear into existence regarding the economy. Wimal Weerawansa is trying to create fear about national security.
The UNP has never deprived people of job opportunities in this country. It is only the UNP that can bring local and foreign investors to the country and develop it. Only we can commence an era where the youth of this country would not need to go behind anyone to obtain jobs. During the past, nothing could be done without a letter from Namal Rajapaksa. If something needed to be done in the district of Gampaha, people had to obtain a letter from Basil Rajapaksa.
?What are the election results of the Gampaha District going to be like this time?
A: Similar to the past presidential election, it will be UNFGG who will win the Gampaha District.
?The presidential election in the Gampaha District was won by a majority of 4,000 votes. Since the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) is contesting separately, won’t the advantage go to the UPFA?
A: No. Even if the JVP is contesting separately, the UNP will win the Gampaha District by a majority of about 40,000 votes