Ranjan ready to go if ill-treatment continues


by Norman Palihawadane

Social Empowerment and Welfare Deputy Minister Ranjan Ramanayake yesterday said that he would not hesitate to leave the government if he was continued to be short-changed.

Asked to comment on the reports that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had recently reprimanded him for being critical of the government’s performance, the Deputy Minister said that he was a man with a self-respect and it

was in his nature to be critical when criticism was necessary.

"I lodged many complaints against the big shots of the previous government demanding investigations into alleged corruption and frauds. I solicited the votes of people by promising them action against those who had swindled their monies. When I visit the electorate people ask me whether we have captured these thieves. I do not want to lie to the people. If I am given powers I know how to arrest the racketeers and I have evidence too.

Ramanayake said he was critical of government’s lackadaisical action in punishing the wrongdoers of the previous regime. "I am not happy with the excuse being given that court procedures take time. There should be a way to punish the culprits. In 1956 during SWRD Bandaranaike’s premiership, civic rights of five corrupt politicians were suspended on the basis of a report from a commission leaded by Walter Kalthotapitiya. There is no need going before courts to take punitive actions," he said.

Responding to the query whether the deputy minister’s plan to leave the government was aimed at building up his image to heroic proportions, he said: "I cannot leave the government because I would not then be able to use of many forums, including parliament to raise my voice against the corrupt. In addition I was sent to parliament by more than 202,000 votes. I cannot forget their hopes. But, if I am being treated like dirt continuously, I will not hesitate to leave the government because I have self-respect. The Prime Minister is the leader of the UNP. I cannot override his command. If he tells me to leave, I have to leave."

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