The Indian paranoia
Q: A menacing media campaign, burning of effigies and regular calls for protests against – you seem to have become the punching bag of a section of Indian politicians and media. Why this escalation of violence against a single Sri Lankan minister?
That’s a question that you should ask them. Reality is there for everybody to see and even my Indian friends are saying this is quite unprecedented. Sinister agenda of somebody or perhaps more than one individual or country is at work.
My reading is that an assortment of reasons has contributed to this development. They range from India’s general antipathy towards Sri Lankan nationalist movement, to a fear psychosis that I am backing the Chinese against the Indians, the latter mainly due to the Norochcholai power plant.
As for the nationalist movement in Sri Lanka, it is no exaggeration that there’s a JHU supporter in every patriot. Ours is not just a political party with paltry three seats in parliament but a massive effort that leads the patriotic movement and especially the Sinhala consciousness. The Indian agencies and the section of the media backed by it are alive to this reality. They hate Sri Lanka’s patriotic movement as it strongly resists any form of Indian intervention – be they political ones in the form of forced policy, economic pressure in the form of CEPA or any other. Hence they see a need to malign me, the general secretary of the party and perhaps many others.
As for Norochcholai, it is not my baby, not even the Mahinda Rajapaksa government. It was former President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s idea and today the project has burdened us with a slew of serious issues.
I have neither mollycoddled the Chinese nor overlooked their flaws. However I am not going to wash my hands off responsibility as subject minister just because the project is somebody else’s idea or out of fear of an eternally insecure regional power. Already the Chinese are working on the teething problems.
I don’t owe an explanation to India or for that matter any other country. I am telling all these because you posed me the question as to what I think had contributed to the warped thinking by a section of Indian politicians and media.
Q:About the latest allegation by Indian media against you, the India today report that Sri Lanka is to set up a nuclear plant in Sampur with Pakistan technology, do you think it’s too part of the same agenda?
It is not my credibility but that of the India today that went for a six with that figment of imagination. The magazine became the laughing stock of the informed readers, both Indian and Sri Lankan, due to that concocted story.
My reading was that the story was fabricated with the intention of creating a controversy in the run up to the proposed visit by Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani to Sri Lanka. As I am the subject minister for power, they would have thought it would be an added bonus. Everything backfired as the minister postponed the visit owing to domestic compulsions and India today stands alone, fully exposed.
Q: However on the flip side of the coin, all these attacks – in the form of allegations, effigy burning, protests are making you a household name in India at least among the informed circles. Do you feel like a star by default?
Stars are meant to be faded away – just shine and vanish. I have been in active politics for the past three decades. I am not saying I am here to stay. One never knows, tomorrow I might distance myself completely from politics. Those options are there, among many others.
As for your question, all that I have got to say is, I never wanted to be a star, was never one and never will. If I have gained a reputation I have earned purely on merit and I don’t need a vicious, sustained Indian campaign to prop me up. I am neither a parasite to relish that type of recognition nor a pervert to capitalise on side shoots of a calculated campaign against my motherland.
I am a pilgrim in progress
Q: You said you have spent three decades in active politics. Are you happy where you are today?
Happiness is a complex term.
I am happy the way I have led my life, happy that I have led a movement that helped to weaken and crush the LTTE, I am happy that I took the difficult, honest path in politics without taking shortcuts.
Still I would not say I am completely happy. I think it’s a problem with all human beings that we are never happy with what we have and feel that we are missing something in life.
In politics I continue to be the eternal student. I learn from my experiences and evolve accordingly. I did not plan to be where I am today when I was a child. It’s the circumstances that have brought me to where I am so I don’t feel I have reached a destination.
I feel I am a pilgrim in progress, in politics just like the way in Samsara.
Ranil and I – We enjoy a cordial relationship
A few weeks back a JHU delegation led by you met UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and also Sarath Fonseka to discuss the foiled move to block clergy from engaging in politics. What kind of vibes do you enjoy with the UNP leader and Sarath Fonseka today?
One should not assume that we are at each other’s throat just because we have ideological differences. Even before that meeting I met Mr. Wickremesinghe at his mother’s funeral and we chatted up on various issues. We enjoy a civil and cordial relationship as two politicians. There are no cold vibes or overly warm vibes. We have mutual respect for each other. With Sarath Fonseka the JHU respects him for his contribution to annihilate the LTTE. But we have condemned certain post-war proclamations by him that landed our motherland in trouble. Still if we bump into each other we would greet each other and perhaps exchange pleasantries. However no special efforts are made by me to meet him.
Peratugaami Party – is it still in existence?
Q: The Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) or the Peratugaami party on Monday had lashed out at you at their press conference. Why do you think that they too have started targeting you?
Well what else can they do? When there financiers are targeting me they too have to fall in line. By the way is this party still in existence? I thought they went to a permanent state of hibernation following that abduction drama they staged a few months ago.
In fact about three weeks ago a close friend of mine warned me that an ex- JHU member who was sacked for gross indiscipline had joined this party and there was a plan to sling mud at me using the man.
Q: So you do sack party people even now?
Otherwise how do you expect to maintain law and order in the party? Once sacked we never take them back and the individual I am talking about had a slew of very serious charges against him. Ours is a party which considers discipline as gold. The man came back to us pleading mercy but I showed him the door and today we have severed all ties with him.
Q: Carry on......
So when my friend warned me about this individual and the Peratugaamee party I asked whether the party was still there. Like the majority of citizens in the county I too was under the impression that it died a natural death after its foiled attempt to create another blood bath here using school children. Nobody was talking about them after that. In fact it’s almost a non-entity today.
If they have started a campaign against me it could also mean that they are desperate to be in the news. Nobody would have cared if they tried to sling mud at a farmer in Anuradhapura at their press conference. It would not have made news. An attack against the JHU General Secretary of course does make good page one copy for media.
Also I know for a fact that these disgruntled elements used to see me as a major stumbling block in achieving their evil ends to create a massacre of youth here in Sri Lanka. So I feel honoured.
And I reiterate that we will never let these frustrated groups aided and abetted by residual LTTE elements and anti-Sri Lankan powers, to stage another rebellion. They can be Sinhalese, Tamils or Muslims we don’t care. Finally it is the people of this country who are going to suffer due to their sinister agendas. This country is yet to fully recover from the shocks of the LTTE and the JVP terrorism.
These yet-to be reformed ex-JVPers can do whatever they want outside Sri Lanka but this soil will never be allowed for use against the sovereignty of the country. We bore the brunt during those dark days of terrorism. We have a responsibility to make sure that our children would not go through what we went through. The hard earned peace is not there for the frustrated groups to play football with.