Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said, Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) was a cat’s paw of communalistic political parties.
In a statement, he said the constitutional proposals in SJB Leader Sajith Premadasa’s manifesto is identical to the proposals in the draft constitution tabled in Parliament by UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe in early 2019.
“An essential precondition to the division of this country is to remove from our Constitution the phrase ‘unitary state’ which has a special technical meaning. The international community can then take note of the fact and act accordingly.
The inclusion of constitutional proposals aimed at the division of the country in the manifesto of a major political party is a cause for grave concern. This document was presented to the Most Venerable Mahanayake Theras and Anunayaka Theras with a great deal of publicity without however giving them any prior warning about its contents. If they had won the last presidential election, these proposals would have been implemented on the claim that it had received a mandate from the people and the blessings of the Maha Sangha.
A political party that caters to a single ethnic or religious community only looks after the narrow interests of that group and considers other communities to be outsiders or even enemies. Our most recent experience of the dangerous consequences of this brand of politics was the Easter Sunday terrorist attack. When a given political party restricts itself to just one ethnic or religious group, they too become prisoners of circumstances.
When the extremist preacher Zaharan Hashim built himself a small following in the East, communal political parties had to compete for the votes of that group. That enabled this extremist to summon all communal candidates for election in that district and even impose conditions on them. Through this process, extremists controlled the communal political parties and the communal political parties in turn controlled the national political party running the government. Ultimately the extremists indirectly controlled the government. The yahapalana government was not able to prevent the Easter Sunday bombings because they had fallen victim to this brand of politics.
G. G. Ponnambalam was a minister in Sri Lanka’s first post-independence government. Even though he was not a member of the UNP, he was a lifelong political ally of the Senanayakes. Until 1975, Alfred Duriappah was a pillar of the SLFP in Jaffna. There were figures like A.C.S. Hameed and M.H. Mohamed in the UNP and Badiuddin Mohamed and Alavi Moulana in the SLFP. All of them represented the Tamil or Muslim communities and were stalwarts of either the UNP or the SLFP. The politics of trampling the majority community underfoot and obtaining privileges for one’s own community through political extortion never existed at that time. The reason why this poisonous political culture has flourished up to this point is because those engaged in such politics have benefited enormously from it.
The people defeated that brand of politics at the 2019 presidential election. If we are to see the kind of friendship and cooperation that existed between the various communities in this country in times past, we have to ensure that those who engage in narrow-minded communal politics are not able to benefit from it. It’s only then that a new generation of Ponnambalams, Duriappahs, Hameeds and Moulanas will emerge from among the younger generation. I request all voters to give us an overwhelming mandate exceeding even that of the presidential election of 2019, in order to put an end to narrow-minded communalism in the politics of this country, the statement said.
- Our most recent experience of the dangerous consequences of this brand of politics was the Easter Sunday terrorist attack