like people who envy the loving couple next door Minister Ratnayake describing elements seeking to divide the SLFP
Four Ministers- Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, State Minister for Public Administration C.B. Ratnayake, State Minister for Housing and Samurdhi, Dilan Perera and State Minister for Environment, Pavithra Wanniarachchi from the UPFA recently resigned from their portfolios and returned to the opposition ranks. In this interview with the Sunday Lankadeepa, former Minister C.B. Ratnayake explains why.
By Dayaseeli Liyanage
Q : Why did you resign from your ministerial portfolio?
We as a political party joined the government with the hope of banishing ‘hate politics’ and embarking on a political journey in a united Sri Lanka where the spirit of co-operation and harmony among different communities reigns supreme.
We have our own identity, namely the SLFP. We cannot abandon our political party and function in a hostile atmosphere in Parliament. Today, we find that the development activity at grass roots level has ground to a halt. We had an SLFP-led government. And it has now been replaced with a UNP government. The UPFA Cabinet has been replaced with a UNP Cabinet. It is quite obvious that the UNP is engaged in a secret plan to consolidate their political power in a subtle manner despite not winning an election. Our aim is to build up the SLFP. The president of our party is the president of our country. As members of the SLFP, we wanted to proceed on our chosen political journey while extending our unstinting support to the party leadership. We decided to quit the present government with a view to achieving this aim. We also wanted to register our protest against placing local government bodies under the control of special commissioners instead of taking steps to hold elections to these bodies.
Q : If I say that you were commenting on developments you could foresee which did not come as surprises to you...
We threw in our lot with this government on a unanimous decision taken by the SLFP Central Committee. We have to forge ahead as a united country eschewing ‘hate politics’. We decided to accept ministerial office to make our contribution towards the socio-economic progress of the country – and to usher in a better future for it. If you want to swim, you have to step into the water. You can ascertain whether you can swim only when you are in water. We also stepped into the water to swim. But, we found that we had not stepped into a spread of water, but a quagmire where swimming is not possible. Therefore, we gave up our bid to swim!
Q : Do you want to send home the point that you could not achieve the purpose of joining the National Unity Government?
Certainly. We discovered that neither ‘hate politics’ nor underhand, hostile activity had ended.
Q : Some people described those who joined the government as Gandhabbayas(souls of the dead in an interim realm awaiting rebirth in another world). Did you take offence at this jibe?
We are looking forward to a new birth where things will be much better. We have accumulated enough merit to deserve such a new birth. We are planning to form an SLFP-led government.
Q : Whom are you now with? Mahinda or Maithri?
That question is irrelevant. I am a member of the SLFP. A record 5.8 million people voted for the SLFP. We cannot lose sight of the future of this 5.8 million people while this question is being bandied about.
Any one in politics would come across situations where he has to take a step backwards or forward in the interest of the people. We all have to come together to proceed on our political journey. Some people are bent on dividing the SLFP into several camps. We should avoid such pitfalls.
Q : Do you fear a possible erosion of the SLFP vote base?
I have been an SLFPer from the time I came into my mother’s womb. People in our villages know it. I have never moved from party to party for personal gain. I am a life-time member of the SLFP. Some people are out to derive a sadistic pleasure from causing dissension in our party. We are making every sacrifice necessary for the sake of our 5.8 million voters. That is our response to those trying to divide us. I will never lose my vote base. I live in the village – with the people. I didn’t confine myself to Colombo after becoming a minister. I looked after my voters – championed their cause.
Q : Weren’t you play-acting when you lashed out at Ranil?
You have to call a wrong a wrong. I am opposed to ‘hate politics’ - to vindictive political culture. They will continue to persecute political opponents. We are not criticising Ranil just for the sake of criticising him; we mean what we say against him. I value decent politics. I too have been a victim of ‘hate politics’.
Q : Are you against enforcing the law against corrupt elements?
We do welcome enforcing the law against the corrupt. But we are opposed to the ongoing witch hunt to take revenge from political opponents. There should be fair play in the matter of prosecuting the wrong doers. The law should be enforced without discrimination. There cannot be one law for Arjuna Mahendran and another law for the political opponents of this government when dealing with corrupt elements. Ranil Wickremesinghe white-washed Mahendran because of his friendship with him. There are more corrupt people in this government.
The authorities should move against them also. Loketa parakashe. Gedarata maragate!
Q : Have you faith in the judiciary?
I have full faith in the judiciary.
Q : You were a minister of the Mahinda Rajapaksa administration. There were allegations of corruption against certain ministers at that time. But you were silent then.
I have always spoken up against injustice. Never cringed or cowered.
Q : Do you expect to receive party nomination to contest the coming general election?
Why shouldn’t I get? If I failed to receive nomination, it would be due to ‘hate politics’. Those opposed to ‘hate politics, cannot deny me nomination.
Q : Are you also maintaining a rapport with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa?
I am a member of the SLFP. I am prepared to work with any party leader no matter who he is.
Q : They say that the SLFP today is wracked by infighting?
That is not so. Of course there are certain elements trying to create dissension in the party. They are mostly motivated by jealousy like some people who cannot help envying the loving couple next door.
Q : Do you say that there are no problems plaguing the SLFP?
There are problems, but they can be easily sorted out.
Q : What have you to say about the yahapalanaya?
I welcome good governance – yahapalanya.
Q : Is the 100-day programme a success?
We decided to support the programme and we supported its implementation!
Q : What is your immediate objective?
Ensuring the victory of the SLFP at the coming general election.