By Anuradha Herath
New Left Front Leader and Member of Parliament Vasudeva Nanayakkara says that the result of this Local Government election will send a political shock enough to shatter the Government.
What has happened to the earlier strength of the Joint Opposition (JO)?
A: I don’t know what you used to measure it.
I‘m asking about the journey you started making quite a big noise saying that the Government will be toppled and its fraud and corruption revealed?
A: We have a complete programme in mind. That’s what we started at the Sugathadasa Stadium on 2 January. That is the programme on selling State assets, fraud and corruption.
It was said that many will join the JO but has it happened?
A: Nimal Lanza came. Other than that no one joined us or left us. That’s not a big issue for us. What we want to know is whether there is a wave of support for us in rural areas and at grassroots levels.
Has anyone from the United National Party joined you by now?
A: A few have joined at provincial leadership level.
But Sriyani Wijewickrama, Weerakumara Dissanayake and a group from the National Freedom Front left. No one came from the Government except Member of Parliament Nimal Lanza. It is said that those who were to join you are now against you.
A: It is not us that they are against but the United National Party (UNP), because they have found fault with their colleagues in the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) for joining with the UNP. They are now rebuking the UNP, while being in the same Government to escape from those allegations. It’s a funny situation.
Are the two SLFP groups just feigning the fact that they aren‘t on good terms?
A: They want to escape from the allegations directed at them for being a part of this Government as well as to show that they are against its destructive economic policy. Therefore, they are in a dilemma.
So they are in the Cabinet together with UNPers and contesting for elections to escape from that dilemma?
A: Today they are under pressure from people on one side and from the President to save the Government on the other. So, they are walking on a tight rope.
You say that, but isn‘t it also said that whilst the JO thinks about the country, they are unable to control their own people, let alone rule the country?
A: Those are mainly nominations problems and secondly differences of opinion within the parties. No one left those parties to my knowledge. No one left former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s party either.
It is said that minor parties faced various problems in the nomination process?
A: There is some truth in it. A power struggle was there in the nomination process. It was difficult for the minor parties to put forward their candidates.
What is your opinion regarding joining the SLFPers in the Government?
A: We should get everyone together under the leadership of the JO.
Didn‘t you say a few weeks ago that you are trying to get a group in the UNP to join you?
A: I said we are prepared to take people even from the UNP, our main enemy, to come to power in the local bodies.
Have such groups joined you?
A: If we can build up connections in various areas we can do it. Those who are in the UNP itself are not happy about Ranil Wickremesinghe’s leadership and his policies.
Initially, you were not happy about former Minister Basil Rajapaksa either. How do you see him now?
A: We don’t endorse Basil Rajapaksa’s leadership very much. But his managerial ability is important at this initial stage.
What do you think of his qualities that you cannot accept?
A: We didn’t like his style very much.
Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has said on two or three occasions that this Government will be overthrown. Are such controversial statements made on occasion just to show that the JO is still in politics?
A: Our aim is to topple this Government. But the Government won’t crash just because we want it to happen. Other factors have to come in place for that to happen. When that happens we will take steps to send the Government home. We are analyzing the crisis that the Government will have to face, in the near future. With that crisis people’s opposition for the Government will increase. We will also act accordingly.
There are posters for the Local Government election saying ‘Let‘s make Mahinda Prime Minister‘. What do you mean by it?
A: It’s our future vision. You can take it from me, the result of this Local Government election will send a political shockwave to shatter the Government.
Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna Leader is Prof. G.L. Peiris. Yet, it‘s SLFP‘s Patron Mahinda Rajapaksa who is put forward for the election. Hasn‘t the leader of the Lotus Bud become a leader only in name?
A: There is a confusion regarding the person, the organization and the symbol. The reason for it is the Maithri faction of the SLFP not being able to carry on the election campaign by itself as it lacks the strength to do so.
So you‘re saying that without Mahinda Rajapaksa the JO cannot stand alone?
A: Yes. There can never be a people’s movement in this country without his leadership.
Then, how do you view MP Roshan Ranasinghe saying that Gotabaya Rajapaksa would be the Presidential candidate in 2020?
A: People’s ideas differ. I do not approve of that idea. I think it is Chamal Rajapaksa who should be our next Presidential candidate.
How many candidates have joined you for the Local Government election?
A: About seventy-five.
The President presented the Bond Commission Report to the country. Do you think that legal action would be taken based on its findings?
A: We have to look into what those findings are. We can say without fear of contradiction that this fraud was committed with the connivance of the Prime Minster. We don’t know whether that fact is mentioned in the report. But we will take future steps to prove this.
Didn‘t you all say earlier that you will support the President unconditionally on actions regarding the Bond scam?
A: We are ready to assist in framing charges, prosecution and legal procedures relating to the Bond fraud.
Will the names of the accused in this case be made public before the Local Government election?
A: I cannot say yet. We, of course, have come to conclusions. We expect that the Commission report would speak of the direct relationship between Arjuna Mahendran and his son-in-law, their direct responsibility for the fraud and who the leadership behind the planning of the fraud is. Even if action is not taken, we will pursue this matter according to our conclusions, with the facts available to us, and take action regarding the main parties connected to this crime, some day.
Allegations have been made regarding bribes taken by MP Ravi Karunanayake when he was the Minister of Finance. Can‘t he be brought before the Bribery Commission?
A: The cause of action in those cases had not been disclosed. Allegations were made regarding accepting various gifts. He resigned because of the disgrace he suffered by being a main party to the greatest robbery ever in this country. We can find out from the COPE report how and to what extent each individual contributed to this big fraud. The Prime Minister byhis Three Member Committee report in Parliament exonerated Arjuna Mahendran, completely.
Hasn‘t this become a big issue with regard to the Local Government election?
A: Definitely, yes. This will become the main issue because this ‘Great Bank Robbery’ has become the cause for the decline in the living standards of the people and the collapse of the economy.
Whoever comes to power, is there any other alternative, other than stamping more taxes, to deal with the prevalent debt burden?
A: There is. We hope to make all State institutions profitable. The Insurance Corporation and the Port Authority earned profits of Rs 23 billion and Rs 11 billion respectively.
Isn‘t there a huge people‘s protest now with regard to the selling of State assets?
A: We exert pressure on this Government to completely stop the sale of State assets and we will show that with the defeat of the UNP this Government will not be there anymore. And also we will go for this election putting forward the demand to do away with the big tax burden and relief cuts.
How can such demands be practicable at a time when essential food items such as rice and coconuts are being imported?
A: The government has come to a stage when State assets are being sold making people helpless. The rice and coconut shortage occurred due to the bungling of this Government. We will correct that situation. We have necessary plans to convert this shortage into surplus in six months.
Isn‘t there an allegation that although various projects called mega development projects have started it‘s only a publicity stunt?
A: I don’t understand. If mega development means large-scale development it’s only at their planning or conceptual stage.
Didn‘t the Minister of Megapolis and Western Development accuse the Government on one occasion that he didn‘t get monetary allocations for him to do the development work?
A: Actually, the Government has no money to allocate. It has no income. On the other hand the Minister is up to cruel acts like prohibiting begging in Colombo. Is it reasonable to do so without going into the reasons for the people to descend to such a level?
There can be at the most, about one hundred beggars in the city.It is completely against civilization and the country’s culture to do so rather than finding out the reasons for their plight.