In a wide ranging interview Kurunegala UPFA candidate Johnston Fernando said that the UNP was trying to use the Goebbels Theory in tarnishing the image of the former regime. He charged that a future UNP government would prune the public service.
Q The United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), which you represent, is in the election fray amid a lot of challenges. You were also remanded over some allegations. Then, how do you look at this election as a candidate?
We strive to win this election under the leadership of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The entire country has ground to a standstill during the last six months under the present regime. We have to enliven this nation. For that, we all are united under Mr. Rajapaksa to win it.
The Imperialist forces, inimical to the nation, have raised their ugly heads. The country is on a downhill path. Only Mr. Rajapaksa can give leadership to our struggle. We are confident that the UPFA will win.
Q But, the UFPA is tainted with various allegations such as nepotism, corruption and bandyism. Then, don’t you consider challenging this time?
There were numerous allegations during the past six months. It was a farcical exercise. It is Goebbels Theory. When an allegation is made repeatedly against somebody, it becomes established.
It leads to wide public perception on the whole matter in question. It will be too late when the truth comes out. That is what they aim at in tarnishing our images. But, our people realised it. They know the truth. Falsehood is always short-lived. They failed in their mission to establish falsehood and deceit.
That is why, people crowded at the residence of Mr. Rajapaksa in Medamulana and asked him to make a comeback in politics. These elements, inimical to the nation, portray Mr. Rajapaksa in a bad light. He is criticised as someone even worse than LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran. In the past, we were scared to travel freely due to sporadic bomb attacks. The new generation may not be aware of it.
Q Mr. Rajapaksa contests from the Kurunegala district along with you in the same list. There is criticism that he came to Kurunegala because his popularity has so waned in his home base of Hambantota. What are your views?
We only invited him to come here for contesting. Mr. Rajapaksa represents the entire country. He is a national figure wanted by everyone. He resurrected this country from terrorism. Some people challenge to defeat him. These persons are political minions before Mr. Rajapaksa. They should not overrate themselves and challenge Mr. Rajapaksa who is much higher than them in political stature.
The United National Party (UNP) group leader of Kurunegala should gauge his own potential before challenging someone like Mr. Rajapaksa.
In the Elara –Dutugemunu war in ancient history, warriors hailed from Ruhunu-Giruwapattuwa. They liberated the country from invasion. Today, Kurunegala is the area, which produced the largest number of valiant soldiers who fought for this country. Wherever he contests, he will win. He liberated the country. But some, who are unable to understand this reality, air different voices.
Q But, he was defeated at the last Presidential Election. What is the reason for it?
They managed to establish falsehood and deceive people. People got carried away. But, now the reality has been accepted. People cannot be deceived again.
Q In case the UPFA forms a new government, how will it be different from its past rule?
Mr. Rajapaksa has a vision and mission. Today the development projects are at a standstill. The government is even unable to pay the monthly subsistence allowance to senior citizens. They talk of economic zones. Instead, they will work for the separation of this country.
Now, the government tries to lure people with the promise of a Volkswagen manufacturing plant. It is similar to the past promise of serving people with Chewing Gum instead of betel.
They promise to give one million jobs. The same promise was given in 2002. But what happened? The public service was pruned. We will, in fact, give jobs. We will give salary hikes for public servants. We will not tolerate the betrayal of the country.
Today, there is no stable price for paddy. It is sold at Rs.20 or 22. We have to correct all these things.
Q In case, you are appointed as a minister under a future government, are you ready to take up your position as the Trade Minister?
I am always ready to take up challenges. The Trade Ministry has always been challenging for anyone. All those who held it were subjected to public criticism. But, we did it well. We managed it. Today, dhal price has soared. During festive times too, we have controlled prices. But, prices are rising day by day. We protected consumers. We gave a guaranteed price for the agricultural produce. We did it amid challenges. I am ready for any portfolio.
Today, Sathosa retail outlets have collapsed. A new Chairman has also been appointed. It shows their lack of managerial skills to run the establishment.