The once JVP presidential candidate and later strong ally of UPFA, Nandana Gunathillake, in an interview with the dailymirror said he left the Government as the President failed to keep his promises and alleged that after 2010 the President became dictatorial.
You supported President Mahinda Rajapaksha from 2005 and played a major role in his victorious campaign. Why did you decide to leave UPFA at such a crucial moment?
As the public is aware, we have played a major role in bringing President Mahinda Rajapaksha to power in 2005. During that period the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) was debating on the need to support a nationalist leader and not to support leaders like Chandrika Bandaranaike and Ranil Wickremasinghe who held federalist views.
Therefore we decided to render conditional support to President Rajapaksa in order to defeat the LTTE. However on the other hand there were some who believed that in order to support Mahinda Rajapaksa there was no need to join with the Government. This later became the majority view. But we were of the opinion that it was essential to join with the Government.
In 1999 when I was the common candidate from the JVP I was able to secure 345,000 votes. If we contested at the elections in 2005 we would have been able to get around 900,000 votes. If that happened President Rajapaksa would not have been able to win. Ranil Wickramasinghe could have been elected and he could have operated the ISGA project. Observing his stance at that stage I can say that his power would have led to the creation of another Eelam.
The election in 2010 was one where huge sums of money were circulated. People who won the election were people who spent money. But because I had the intention to work for the victory of the UPFA I continued to stand with the party. In 2011 I contested for Panadura Municipal Council.
After 2010, the President started acting differently. He started to act in a dictatorial way. He acted according to the wishes of his family. The space given for other parties became less and less. The country operated according to the Rajapaksa family’s agenda after 2010. We were always against this situation. But since the situation did not get better, I decided to find an alternative.
In our journey to find that alternative we formed an organisation named “Palamu Peramuna” where many people gathered around us. It is not a political organisation but a social one. We focus to inform the people about the injustices that occur in the country and stand against them.
What do you mean by government’s injustices? Don’t you think the government has taken the country to the heights of development?
The government has many prejudices. We worked with the government conditionally. Among those conditions was abolishing of the executive presidency. Also we had many suggestions with regard to the development of industries and the agricultural sector.
If the President wanted, he had the opportunity to abolish the executive presidency. Instead he used his power to get more power. Also we suggested that there needs to be a change in the election system. People who earn money in illegal ways get elected to the parliament. Corruption is a major issue.
You said the country was developed. But have they done anything significant for the agricultural sector or any other industry? Under this government what was developed were roads and construction from which they get more commissions. It is good to construct roads. But nobody questions about the money pocketed as bribes and commissions. Even the mindsets of the people function in such a way that they accept these things. From top to bottom almost all the officials in the system are partners of this on-going corruption. We do not have a mechanism to control corruption.
Also the Government’s undue interference with the Courts, Police and the government service are intolerable. There is no media freedom in the country. Even during the period J.R Jayawardena ruled the country such incidents took place. But now they are happening in a more serious way.
You emphasised corruption in this government. Are you trying to say that the President himself is involved in corruption?
At a discussion held at Temple Trees some time back in which many officials participated and the media were present, there was a question and answer session. Answering a question raised, the President said that many provincial councillors and many others earn money through the development projects as they themselves take the contracts. Since many who were present on the occasion earned money in those ways there was a perturbed silence. Seeing the audience’s reaction, the President said lightly “don’t you know how to get these things done properly.” What he implied was that they needed to find ways to earn from these without getting caught. Do I need to give more clarifications?
In 1999 you were a Presidential candidate. But later you served in a municipal council. Don’t you think this is a setback in your political career?
Money can change the entire political system of this country. The election in 2010 was something we could not handle smoothly as we did not have sufficient funds. Quality was neglected and quantity was what was given more prominence. Most of the people in the country do not look at the political system in a logical way. Most of the people do not have time to think of these issues in depth. They will get carried away with the goods that are being distributed by the politicians.
What if someone says that you were an unpopular character? There were reports that after you resigned there were festivities celebrating your resignation. What do you have to say about this?
Anyone can ask residents of Panadura about me. They will surely say that I am someone who did not earn a cent from politics. If you closely look at the video footages of those festivities there are two people in the front. One is “Katar Sunil” and the other is “Sujith Putha”. You can decide who these people are from these names.
Residents know who were behind these festivities and who spent money for them.
What is your next political step?
The world has changed today. The labourers today are different than those whom Marx saw. Today what we need is social democracy. We need not stay under the “rebellious” banner. What the country needs is a developed capitalist system where a large portion of money goes to the people and their well-being.
I am independent now and I will work towards the victory of the common candidate. It is not the person but it is the work and the plan they have. First priority will be abolishing the executive presidency and to line-up people who are educated and who love the country to represent the Parliament.
I have started “Palamu Peramuna” as I mentioned earlier. Many people have rallied around us.
One party should not rule the country, there should be a collective. In such a Government there will be space for other parties and flow of other ideas.
You are with the team in creating the common candidate. Are you confident that you will be able to find the best common candidate without disappointing the people?
I am trying my best to bring the most suitable candidate.