Colombo district UPFA chief candidate for the election to the Western Provincial Council Udaya Gammanpila said today that he apologised to Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya for the participation of Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa in the function to mark the launch of his election campaign.
However, he remarked the Defence Secretary, being a political appointee, had every right to participate in election rallies or meetings. Yet, he said he made an apology because Mr. Deshapriya considered it inappropriate.
Mr. Gammanpila responding to a letter by UNP candidate Srinath Perera which accused him of violating election laws by getting the support of a Ministry Secretary for election campaigning said, according to the 1978 Constitution, Ministry Secretaries are not public servants and hence Mr. Rajapaksa had a right to participate in election campaign.
“I regret about Mr. Perera’s ignorance of the history of his own party. According to Clause 52 of the 1978 Constitution, a Ministry Secretary is not a public servant, and therefore, he or she can take part in any political campaign. However, I sought the advice of Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya in this regard, and unfortunately he also held the view that it was not appropriate for a Ministry Secretary to engage in election campaigning. I phoned the Elections Commissioner and asked it, not as a lawyer or a political critic, but as a candidate. So I apologised to him for the incident respecting his opinion without any debate. Also, I assured him that I would not have any Ministry Secretaries in my election campaigning again”, Mr. Gammanpila said.
Mr. Gammanpila went on to reject a point made by Mr. Perera in his letter that Mr. Rajapaksa had always held the view that casinos should be established in the country.
“Mr. Perera has said in his letter that Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa consistently held the view that casinos should be established in the country. But I have never seen him representing such an opinion. As a lawyer, he must have said that with some evidence. So I insist that he publish that evidence via the media to prove it in the same way he gave publicity to his letter. If he cannot do that, he needs to apologise to both of us for creating a wrong image about us in the country,” he said. (Ajith Siriwardana)