JVP MP Bimal Rathnayake spoke about the much looked forward to provincial council elections, the SAITM issue, the Rajapakse’s and how the party he represents hopes to move forward in the political scene in an interview with our sister paper Deshaya. following are excerpts of the interview.
The JVP is always in the forefront regarding the issues faced by the country, but there seems to be no solution to these problems.What are your comments?
Solutions couldn’t be found regarding some issues. Take for instance the 19th Amendment. We are the ones who were responsible for initiating a major part of the amendments. When it came to the Local Council Elections Act, we played an important role during this debate and were able to establish what is more suitable for the country. When elections were being postponed repeatedly, it was we who insisted in January to have two days for the debate and take a vote in Parliament. The abolition of the Executive Presidency and the Bond issue aren’t over yet. The SAITM issue is also connected to this. The reasons for the delay in moving forward on these issues is of concern to the JVP as well.
It’s quite apparent that the Joint Opposition is taking to the streets and launching stiff opposition against the Government, but the JVP has confined itself to stages and seems content in expressing opinions.What have you got to say?
Tell me whether the JO staged any protest before the Mattala Airport issue? They haven’t done anything. We gave leadership to the recent strike staged by the Electricity Board employees. The Joint Opposition didn’t offer support to the Peoples’ Front which protested against SATM. Only the JVP and the trade unions featured in these protests. We fought for the farmers’ rights. We were the ones who filed charges against Lalith Weeratunga, who was sent to jail. Therefore it’s proven that the JVP is forceful not only on the road, but also within the Parliament. We aren’t like the Rajapakse clan, which is trying to cover up. Members of this clan have got round President Sirisena and and Premier Wickremesinghe and are attempting to cover up their misdeeds.
The Government is accusing the JVP of disrupting the society by engaging in protests and strikes and creating issues.
Not only this Government if any other Government does something good for the people we will offer support and assistance. The best example for this came when we offered support for the Local Council Act and the Provincial Councils Act to be passed. Now we have no dealings with the Government. Our dealings are with the country and its people. We have opposed what will go against the people. Just consider what we have done. We are ready to stop them not only by pulling them by their legs, but we might go to the extent of grabbing them by their necks.
The JO maintains that the JVP is the protective wall of this Government.Your comments?
We are very clear on our stand. Due to the faults of the Government of Maithripala Sirisena and Ranil Wickremesinghe, the corrupt and murderous Rajapakse clan have got further opportunities to continue with their acts. We have no dealings with this Government nor the Rajapakse clan. Tell those who point fingers at us to show when and where we have protected this Government. We observed recently that after Lalith Weeratunga was taken into custody Mahinda Rajapakse met Ranil Wickremesinghe the same evening and was able to obtain bail for Weeratunga. Namal Rajapakse’s Secretary was wanted by Interpol, but she moves freely. A child who robbed eight coconuts was sent to jail. What is this law? That is why we are saying that the Rajapakses are being provided bail by Ranil Wickremesinghe. We reiterate that we have not taken anything from anyone.
"A country can’t be developed if there is no discipline. Our main strength is our trade unions, which aren’t hell-bent on enriching themselves. Next come the farmers’ organizations. Therefore as a party we have done much for our members"
The Joint Opposition states that the JVP is offering support to the Government through the Provincial Council Act in order to postpone the elections. Your response?
We have only 06 MPs who voted in favour of it. Seventeen of their members weren’t present to cast their votes. That is the vital point. Even Mahinda Rajapakse wasn’t present at the time of voting. What is your answer to that? The truth is that when the Local Council Elections are being held, you can’t hold the Provincial Council Elections at the same time. If elections were held for the three Provincial Councils they would have been held under the earlier Preferential System. Our strategy is to oppose the system where all elections are held on a single day. This system was adopted by Mahinda Rajapakse. We put an end to it. Isn’t it good? What we did was change the chaotic situation created by Rajapakses. According to this act the Government has to hold the elections six months from now.
Critics point out that the Government has created a chaotic situation within the Parliament and has an opposition group which is supporting them, which in a way helps the regime do as it wishes.What do you say?
We have answered this question on several occasions. According to the Constitution only six parties are recognized within the Parliament. These people contested from the UPFA accepting the leadership given by Maithripala Sirisena. They have one more opportunity to leave the SLFP and contest. But instead of doing that they are now switching alliances with Mahinda and Sirisena to their advantage. They should come clean on this issue. We are clear on the issue regarding being against the Government. We don’t want to bring in new rogues replacing the old rogues, or bring in old rogues in place of new rogues. Our Parliament is always like this. When the UNP was in the opposition they referred to the Rajapakses as rogues while enjoying privileges. That is what is happening even now. During all times there are two factions; an opposition full of rogues and an opposition who are people friendly. We belong to the latter group.
Why is a so-called people friendly party like the JVP now being referred to as ‘Red Elephant Calves’?
When considering the number of votes that are gained ours is the largest political force. But when considering our ideologies they are either rated first or second. Regardless of that the country considers the JVP as a powerful force. Therefore claims made to label us as a party supporting the Government doesn’t have any substance. When we revealed the Bond Scam the Government said we were pro-Rajapakse. Now when we inquired into the ‘Sil Cloth’ issue which involves Lalith and the Rajapakse loyalists, critics say that we are supporting the Government. These type of stories are being said about us since the1970s. It’s the people who are to blame.
When it came to the Local Council Elections Act, we played an important role during this debate
Tell me whether the JO staged any protest before the Mattala Airport issue?
We were the ones who filed charges against Lalith Weeratunga, who was sent to jail
Though you maintain that the JVP is a people friendly party, how come the people haven’t recognized you yet?
There are many reasons. Up to 2010 the people desired to have someone who could stop this 30-year-war that threatened to divide the country. They didn’t mind who was capable of doing that, even if it was a rogue. It was only after 2010 that the people realized that they should have someone more suitable to govern the country. What happened in 2015 was that people threw away the Rajapakses. This proved that the people weren’t fools.
The JVP also formed the Government at one time. How are the people going to trust you?
It isn’t an issue. Our party is formed for the good of the people and not to obtain Ministerial posts. Ours is a well disciplined party. A country can’t be developed if there is no discipline. Our main strength is our trade unions, which aren’t hell-bent on enriching themselves. Next come the farmers’ organizations. Therefore as a party we have done much for our members. All these activities are operated outside the election procedure. These are our strategies. However high the position is if someone is found guilty we would never hesitate to pull him by the ear and throw him out. That is how Wimal Weerawansa was thrown out. No one is big in our party, and therefore any amount of mudslinging won’t affect us.
Like your party the Government is also taking corrective measures by removing minister who are guilty.Your comments?
We see that removing Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe was a very good thing. But this type of an act wasn’t followed up thereafter. At the inception of the Bond inquiry Ravi Karunanayake was alleged to have moved into a house belonging to Aloysius, and later it was found that he (Karunanayake) had given instructions to heads of state Banks. Karunanayake should not only be removed from his ministerial position, but also from the party as well. Take the case of State Minister of Child Affairs Vijayakala Maheswaran. It was revealed during the trial of Vidya (Sivaloganathan) that she had helped the convicts. But what is the punishment given to her?
we are saying that the Rajapakses are being provided bail by Ranil Wickremesinghe
Our strategy is to oppose the system where all elections are held on a single day
What happened in 2015 was that people threw away the Rajapakses. This proved that the people weren’t fools
We see that removing Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe was a very good thing
The Government appointed a commission regarding the Bond Scam which helped reveal many areas. Have you any suspicions about the investigations carried out by the Government?
Judging by the actions taken with regard to Lalith Weeratunga we have no faith. We don’t believe that the commission would punish the perpetrators.
Do you infer that the Government is meddling in the affairs of the court?
Not the courts. It is clear that the Government is directing the Attorney General. We reiterate and state with responsibility that the President and the Prime Minister are interfering with the work of the Attorney General in order to protect the rogues.
Ministers of this Government accuse the attorneys of our courts as being corrupt. In such a circumstance can the public have any confidence in the laws of the country?
Politics in our country is corrupt. The face of bureaucracy is corrupt. The face of religious institutions is corrupt. The face of Media institutions is corrupt. The face of our judicial sector is corrupt. The faces of the people at the top of the business sector are corrupt. Therefore the country as a society is fully corrupt. But one thing, the officers of the Legal Department and the Police officers serving the Presidential Commission are performing commendably. This has proved that despite there being corrupt individuals there are still some who are exemplary. For these individuals conducting investigations on the Rajapakses’ misdeeds is simple, but they are prevented from doing so. It is very apparent as to how the law is being bent.
Are you saying that this Government is involved in suppressing and acting in a dictatorial manner?
The Government’s suppressing acts mainly target students. No action is taken against the Rajapakses. Student leaders are kept in jails for months, but the rogues are getting away scot-free.
The Government states that the JVP is responsible for not allowing the authorities to find a settlement to the SATM issue and also accuses the party of demotivating the students. What is your reply?
There is no point in replying this question. The parents of SATM students have already agreed with our stand.
Why is the Government not considering this issue as crucial?
It’s because of the existing deal between Rajitha Senarathne and businessman Neville Fernando. The President having received the support of Rajitha Senarathne, during the presidential elections, looks the other way.
"Our dealings are with the country and its people. We have opposed what will go against the people. Just consider what we have done. We are ready to stop them not only by pulling them by their legs, but we might go to the extent of grabbing them by their necks"
The combined opposition says that the New Constitution would pave the way for Federalism in the country. Does the JVP support this move?
These are views expressed by Rajapaksa loyalists who are now politically destitute. I don’t wish to form a reply to what they have said. The JVP loves this country more than anyone else. Whenever there were moves to divide the country we risked our lives There is no Federalism in the proposed new Constitution, and it (Federalism) will never become a reality. People would never approve it. Even the TNA is against it. We are saying that a new Constitution is the need of the hour. This wont solve all the issues that the country is facing. Consider the fact that for 2500 years we have never had a Constitution that was approved by the people. Using the new Constitution we expect to abolition the Executive Presidency and establish a system that would empower the Parliament. Secondly a new electoral system should be introduced. This way the country’s unitary status would remain. The issue is about the Tamil word describing unitary state. It is also included, but what will be given recognition is the Sinhala term (meaning).
They say that it is going beyond the 13th Amendment and powers are to be devolved.
No one had made such requests. Only Wigneshwaran had done so. It was a proposal by the Northern Provincial Council which was sent to the Parliament. The TNA refused to accept it. Therefore there is no possibility that it would go beyond the 13th Amendment. The true position about the 13th Amendment is that only police powers had not been given.
Then do you see nothing wrong in this new Constitution.
No there are. The abolition of the Executive Presidency, as promised by Maithripala Sirisena, hasn’t been done. His party wants it to be continued with, but Maithripala asumed power by promising that it would be abolished. In such an event it is apparent that President Sirisena would re-contest the post of President again.