Emergence of new party inevitable - BR

... denies secret pact with UNP leader


By Shamindra Ferdinando

Former SLFP National Organiser Basil Rajapaksa on Monday declared that emergence of a new political outfit was now a certainty.

Former Economic Affairs Minister Rajapaksa asserted that the country needed an alternative political party against the backdrop of the UNP, a section of the SLFP, the JVP as well as the four-party Tamil National Alliance (TNA) pursuing a common strategy.

Basil Rajapaksa was appearing live on television for the first time since President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s defeat at January, 2015 presidential polls.

In a wide ranging interview with Hiru, the current SLFP leadership had conveniently forgotten the party’s primary role, thereby depriving those who opposed the UNP a political platform.

Former Gampaha District MP said that he was working closely with former UPFA members of Local Government bodies pushing for an alternative political party. Recollecting his liaison with them during the previous administration, Rajapaksa stressed his obligation to help their cause.

A smiling Rajapaksa said that had he remained silent, accusations could be made as regards him having a secret deal with the UNP-led government.

The recent opening of a new office at Jayanthipura, Battaramulla was meant to facilitate the project. "Former President Rajapaksa visited the office both last Saturday and Sunday," Basil Rajapaksa said. The former National Organizer attended the event.

Admitting that some of those in the Joint Opposition could be opposed to him playing a new role, one-time presidential advisor said that he was ready to work with like-minded people. Rajapaksa said that he wouldn’t hesitate to accept responsibility for shortcomings on his part. The former Minister said that he was flexible and committed to a common agenda.

Basil Rajapaksa asserted that formation of a new political party was a foregone conclusion and couldn’t be thwarted under any circumstances.

Responding to another query, Basil Rajapaksa strongly denied claims that he was having a dispute with former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa over the latter’s role in the emerging political setup. Paying a glowing tribute to Gotabhaya’s war-time role as Secretary to the Ministry of Defence as well as Secretary to the Ministry of Urban Development, Basil Rajapkasa emphasized that no one else could have matched his brother. Basil Rajapaksa said that his experience in political matters couldn’t be compared with that of Gotabhaya

Basil said that he was aiming for forthcoming local government polls. The former minister said that his statements could be interpreted in different ways.

Samurdhi Minister and former SLFP General Secretary S.B. Dissanayake earlier in the day accused Basil Rajapaksa of pursuing a clandestine project to cause a split in the SLFP. Dissanayake alleged that Basil Rajapaksa was working with the UNP to weaken the SLFP.

Responding to former cabinet colleague Wimal Weerawansa’s accusations that he caused the downfall of the previous administration, Basil Rajapaksa said that they had to sink differences and get together for the sake of the country. He said that there hadn’t been discussions with National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Weerawansa yet.

Alleging that there had been numerous unsubstantiated allegations made against the Rajapaksas, Basil Rajapaksa rejected the claim regarding him being the owner of the Marriott in Dubai. Dismissing claims that he owned the property through a front man, Basil Rajapaksa said that the proprietor (Nandana Lokuwithana) offered assistance to clear his name in case there was an investigation. Basil Rajapaksa said that he got to know the Marriott owner in the wake of the controversy over the ownership.

The same person had acquired Ceylon Steel Corporation (Lanwa) at Aturugiriya, the former Minister said, identifying the businessman as a person from the Anuradhapura district.

Basil Rajapaksa said that his wife, Pushpa, too, had been falsely accused of having shares of Galle Face hotel.

The former minister denied having reached an understanding with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe or his government before returning from the US. Mr and Mrs Rajapaksa left the country on January 11 in the wake of President Rajapaksa’s defeat. Basil Rajapaksa said that PM Wickremesinghe briefly sat next to him at the wedding of Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa’s daughter at a five star hotel in Colombo recently.

Asked whether he accepted responsibility for influencing President Rajapaksa’s decision to call for early presidential election, Basil Rajapaksa insisted that the vast majority of the parliamentary group wanted the presidential. The decision had been taken at a two-day workshop held at a hotel in Kalutara attended by party seniors, including the then General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena and Dallas Alahapperuma. A questionnaire handed over to members sought their opinion as regards the election which they considered advantageous to have first and at the time, the former Minister said. As many as 95 per cent of those had wanted presidential poll first though some Muslim members preferred parliamentary election. About 76 per cent called for presidential election as soon as possible, Basil Rajapaksa said, adding that a top level party team felt that March 2015 would have been better though finally it was called in January 2015.

Basil Rajapaksa said that one person couldn’t accept responsibility for the UPFA’s defeat.

Denying accusations that he as the minister of Economic Affairs had deprived other cabinet colleagues equal opportunities, Basil Rajapaksa said that Patali Champika Ranawaka had done an immense amount of work though he seemed to be doing nothing under yahapalanaya. Duminda Dissanayake played a significant role in ensuring the speedy delivery of school uniform material though the entire project was in disarray under the present government. In spite of bragging throughout presidential and parliamentary polls campaigns, the government was in dire straits with the national economy tottering

Today, the country lacked an efficient leadership and a vision needed to face mounting challenges.

animated gif
Processing Request
Please Wait...