Former national cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan said that due to his reluctance to engage in politics, he directed his brother towards politics and social service, following a request from the President.
Muralitharan made these comments during an election rally in Maskeliya held in support of his brother Muttaiah Prabhakaran who is contesting the general elections as a Nuwara Eliya district Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) candidate.
“I don’t really like active politics, but my family members were of the view that my brother would eventually join politics. Even before he became President, Gotabaya Rajapaksa invited me to join the Viyath Maga platform. So I gladly accepted this offer,” Muralitharan said.
He went on to say that President Rajapaksa is a capable leader who has demonstrated his ability to work.
“After the presidential election, he wanted me to accept a post as the Governor of the Northern Province. But I convinced him that I was only a sportsman, who didn’t know anything about politics. My only wish is to work for the benefit of the people,” Muralitharan recalled.
“The president understood my reluctance to join in politics and he didn’t press me further. However, after two months he again asked me if I would contest the forthcoming general election, considering it as a favour to him. Again I had to decline his request,” he said.
“When the President told me that without the cooperation of the likes of me, it would be very difficult for him to develop the country out of its present situation; I finally had to agree to field my brother in politics and to help him in campaign work. We have businesses and have earned enough money and gained world recognition. We don’t want to earn and go after fame through politics,” he added.
Muralitharan said that he established a Foundation to work towards raising the living standards of the people and to help women engaged in self-employment. According to Muralitharan, this programme has been in progress in 16 districts for over 22 years where some 300 people across the country have been benefitted.
“However, we were unable to carry out our social work in the Nuwara Eliya District due to the disturbances of certain politicians,” Muralitharan alleged.
“We are confident that we would not face such obstruction under a government of Gotabaya Rajapaksa and I hope to set up six more offices of our Foundation in the Nuwara Eliya District,” he said.
Muralitharan appealed to the people to work for the victory of SLPP including his brother Prabhakaran. (Ranjith Rajapaksa)