The Sunday Leader

Anti BBS Gains Ground

“Minister Senaratna said the decision was not directed at Buddhism or the Bhikkhu community in Sri Lanka. He also dubbed BBS General Secretary Galagodaaththe Gnanasara Thera’s behaviour as “despicable.””

The Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) organization, a hardcore Sinhala Buddhist movement led by Galagodaaththe Gnanassara Thera, has encountered a fresh problem with a group of ministers of the government forming a common front against the conduct of the organization. The “anti-Bodu Bala Sena” front is led by Minister Rajitha Senaratna who had recently locked horns with BBS General Secretary, Galagodaaththe Gnanasara Thera.

A group of ministers representing the government met with Udugama Sri Buddharakkhitha Thera, the Mahanayake of the Asgiriya chapter last week, to discuss the conduct of the Bodu Bala Sena organization. The delegation included Ministers Rajitha Senaratna, Janaka Bandara Tennakoon, Mervyn Silva, Salinda Dissanayake, Parliamentarian Thilanga Sumathipala and two ruling party members of the Central Provincial Council (CPC).

Before the meeting got underway, reporters who had gathered at the meeting room were sent out as the discussion was strictly kept away from the media. However, the purpose of the meeting was to make the Mahanayakes aware of the conduct of the Bodu Bala Sena organization and its effect on the Buddha sasana in Sri Lanka.

Minister Senaratna started the discussion by explaining the circumstances which had led to his decision to take legal action against BBS General Secretary, Galagodaththe Gnanasara Thera. He said the decision was not directed at Buddhism or the Bhikkhu community in Sri Lanka. He also dubbed BBS General Secretary Galagodaaththe Gnanasara Thera’s behaviour as “despicable.”

Senaratna added that Gnanasara Thera had tarnished his image by making false allegations on bribery and corruption. He said he had decided to take legal action against the Buddhist monk to clear his name on the matter.


Mervyn Silva dominates ministers’ meeting

At this point, Minister Mervyn Silva intervened and said the behaviour of Galagodaaththe Gnanasara Thera was not in keeping with the manner in which a Buddhist monk should conduct himself. “The only ‘Bala Sena’ that should exist in the country is that of the Army and the Police. Apart from that, there can’t be any ‘Bala Senas’ operating in Sri Lanka. Gnanasara Thera’s behaviour is jeopardizing Buddhism and Buddhists in Sri Lanka. It was on those grounds that I decided to take part in this meeting,” Mervyn Silva said. The entire discussion, more or less, was dominated by Minister Silva with his strong anti-Bodu Bala Sena views.

However, shortly after the discussions were over, Senaratna spoke to the reporters who had gathered outside the venue of the meeting. He said the chapters of the Mahanayake Theras had endorsed the decision to take legal action against the BBS General Secretary, Galagodaaththe Gnanasara Thera.

This meeting had taken place just a week after the BBS General Secretary had held a discussion with Thibbatuwawe Sumangala Thera, the Mahanayake of the Malwatte chapter, on the present state of affairs in the country. During the meeting, Sumangala Thera had urged the BBS General Secretary to avoid fighting with ministers, and instead resolve issues amicably through discussion.

Minister Senaratna and Galagodaaththe Gnanasara Thera had already filed legal action against each other.


Govt worker transferred by UPFA politician for his funeral speech

Politicization of the government service, needless to say, has become a menace that cripples every aspect of society. An ugly incident that portrays the seamless politicization of the government service was reported in Anuradhapura last week. It was learnt that an influential minister of the North Central Province (NCP) had demanded the Kekirawa Bus Depot to transfer an employee who had allegedly failed to praise the minister during a funeral speech. This ugly incident took place during the funeral of Dharma Keerthi Sri Walaswawe Anomadassi Thera, a prominent Buddhist monk in the area.

The employee of the Kekirawa Bus Depot, who had made a funeral oration, was requested by the minister to praise him while delivering his speech. However, the employee had not followed the politician’s instructions, and had said during the funeral oration that the deceased monk never went behind politicians or sought favours from political leaders. The speech apparently had earned the ire of the Provincial Minister who was greedy for publicity.

North Central Province Chief Minister, S M Ranjith Samarakoon, Special Projects Minister, S M Chandrasena, Education Services Minister, Duminda Dissanayake and Deputy Minister of Rehabilitation and Prisons Affairs, S C Muthukumarana, were among the ruling party politicians who had attended the funeral of the Buddhist monk.

The next day, transport authorities had come under severe pressure to take action against the employee on the grounds that he had failed to praise the politician in his speech. Within a matter of few hours, the depot worker had been transferred to another place with immediate effect.

However, the employee was later reinstated as the Education Services Minister, Duminda Dissanayake, had intervened in the matter and had taken measures to cancel the transfer which was issued to the worker on highly unreasonable grounds.


Gayesha Perera in Badulla and Moneragala to support Shasheendra

The Sunday Leader reported last week that actress Nadeesha Hemamali, who had failed to secure a seat at the Southern Provincial Council (SPC) election, had joined the United National Party (UNP) election campaign in the Uva Province. She took part in several meetings in Badulla in support of the UNP’s Chief Ministerial candidate, Harin Fernando.

Meanwhile, actress Gayesha Perera too had joined the election propaganda campaign of the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA). She was accompanied by Hasanjith Chathuranga Kuruppuarachchi, who is a businessman and singer by profession. Gayesha and her husband took part in several meetings in the Badulla and Moneragala districts last week, supporting the campaign of Shasheendra Rajapaksa who is the Chief Ministerial candidate of the UPFA.

Although Gayesha Perera had intended to contest the Western Provincial Council (WPC) election under the UPFA ticket, she was not granted nomination by the party at the last moment. However, the decision to leave her out of the electoral race did not sway her allegiance. She is still committed to the UPFA and takes part in its election campaign in her capacity as a prominent member of the party’s youth wing.

When the former deputy leader of the UNP, Sajith Premadasa, had proposed Karu Jayasuriya’s name to lead the party’s election campaign in Galle, many believed that every faction of the party would work together at the Uva Provincial Council election to ensure the victory of UNP Chief Ministerial candidate, Harin Fernando, who even sacrificed his Parliamentary seat to contest the PC election.

However, things took an unexpected turn when Premadasa decided to move away from the campaign leaving Jayasuriya behind with his committee monitoring the UNP’s propaganda activities. Premadasa’s move, needless to say, came as a surprise to the UNP rank and file. While this fresh issue was gaining ground, and making a negative impact on the party’s election campaign, it was clear that Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has decided to play a neutral role without taking anyone’s side.

Premadasa’s new move bears some significance as nearly two and a half years ago, he was the person who had promoted Jayasuriya as the replacement to Ranil Wickremesinghe. Premadasa strongly backed Karu jayasuriya’s candidacy to the party leadership in 2011, and said the party had no other option other than appointing Jayasuriya as the leader of the UNP. Today, his viewpoints have apparently taken a 180 degree turn. It need not come as a surprise to anyone as shifting allegiances in not a new phenomenon in Sri Lankan politics, be it the government or the opposition.

Although Fernando’s decision to step down from Parliament and contest the PC election boosted the spirit of the UNP supporters, the recent development has made a crippling impact on the party where the election is concerned. However, with Fernando’s arrival, the UNP is still of the belief that the party can make significant progress in the District of Badulla.

“The realistic target for the UNP is to win the District of Badulla. Probably, Harin may not be able to become the Chief Minister of the Uva province. But we are fully capable of making it a nail-biting contest. At the same time, we can certainly win the District of Badulla which is Harin’s stronghold,” a UNP parliamentarian who spoke to The Sunday Leader, said.


UNP’s Fact Finding Mission

Early last week, a delegation of UNP MPs including Dr Harsha de Silva, Eran Wickramaratne, Ajith Mannapperuma, Ajith Perera and R Yogarajan, conducted a fact finding visit to the Railway headquarters in Maradana. The visit was organized under the ‘Gaveshana Charika’ programme in which opposition lawmakers visit state-run institutions and projects to monitor their progress. After each fact finding visit, the UNP MPs would present a detailed report to Parliament underscoring issues that require immediate solutions.

A few days prior to the visit, the UNP officially informed the general manager of Railways of the programme. Going another step further, the main opposition party made sure that it received a written confirmation in that regard from the Railway headquarters.

However, when the UNP delegation visited the Railway headquarters, they had to face an unexpected problem. The general manager of Railways was not in his office and his deputy who was the main contact person that day, had feigned ignorance about the visit. She said she was not informed of any visit by a UNP Parliamentary delegation.

The deputy general manager also said the general manager who had been informed of the visit by the UNP, had slipped and fallen on the stairs and had to be taken to hospital. This bit of information, obviously, came as a surprise to the UNP MPs.

Meanwhile, a group of trade union members were staging a protest at the premises of the Railway headquarters against the visit by the UNP delegation. The trade union activists belonged to a union that is affiliated with the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). They alleged that during the time the UNP was in power, there was a plan to turn the Department of Railways into a state-run authority, paving the way for its privatization. They added that the main opposition party had no right to look into the operations of the Department of Railways.

However, the deputy general manager had facilitated a meeting for the UNP MPs with senior managers and officers of the department, allowing the UNP MPs to gather information from the officials. While the MPs were taking part in the meeting, Dr Harsha de Silva received a telephone call from Dhammika Perera, who is also the Secretary of the Transport Ministry.

Dhammika Perera told the UNP Parliamentarian that the general manager of Railways was awaiting the arrival of the UNP MPs at the Transport Secretary’s office. Perera also said that the general manager of Railways was under the impression that the UNP delegation was visiting the Ministry of Transport. In response, the UNP MP had said that the letter specifically mentioned the location. Consequent to that statement, the Transport Secretary had promised to send the general manager of Railways to the Railway headquarters within 10 minutes.

However, the UNP MPs are of the view that the crowd who had protested inside the Railway Department premises were “paid goons.” UNP MP Dr Harsha de Silva told reporters following the incident that, the goons had shouted obscenities at them and had attempted to block the entrance of the Railway department, preventing the MPs from entering.

The incident strongly resembled the heated situation that took place at the entrance of the Sapugaskanda Oil Refinery when the same group of UNP MPs attempted to visit the place. De Silva said the government supporters used the same tactics to block the fact finding visit by UNP MPs then as well.

Speaking to The Sunday Leader, a spokesman of the party added that they will not do away with the ‘Gaveshana Charika’ programme despite various efforts by the government to stem its progress. “It is clear that they want us to do away with the programme. That is why they are using paid mobs to prevent UNP MPs from visiting state run institutions. Their efforts, I must say, only encourage us,” the spokesperson further said.

1 Comment for “Anti BBS Gains Ground”

  1. Gihan

    They are not hardcore, but terrorists of the highest order

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