The Sunday Leader

We Realised It Wouldn’t Be Easy For Us To Stand Alone – Daya Gamage

The General Secretary of Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) Minister Maithripala Sirisena announced on Friday that he is the Common Opposition candidate contesting the presidency against the incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Addressing the media at the New Town Hall, Minister Sirisena said he served as the General Secretary of the SLFP for 13 years, but he had not condoned the huge scale corruption and the breakdown of law and order.

While thanking the President for winning the war against terrorism, the Health Minister of the Rajapaksa government said the 18th Amendment, deteriorating law and order and democracy were the reasons that compelled him to accept the common candidate nomination.

Minister Sirisena pledged to abolish the executive presidency within 100 days after election to the top post.

Following are excerpts of an interview conducted by The Sunday Leader with Daya Gamage, UNP parliamentarian and UNP national organizer regarding the future course of action by the joint coalition.

 

Excerpts of the interview:

By Camelia Nathaniel

Q: Now that the common candidate has been named, what is the next step with regard to gaining the support of the minority parties?

A: Most of the minority parties are already on board and whoever is not yet onboard with us will join us in due course. In fact these minority parties don’t expect anything special, but what they want is to be treated as equal citizens of this country. Most of the time they even bring up these issues to gain the votes. But their primary requirement is to be treated the same way as citizens of this country.

Further even Mahinda Rajapaksa’s vote base is the Buddhist vote. So still what he is trying is to collect that Buddhist vote. But why we have put forward a common candidate is because we have a common agenda which will serve all communities irrespective of their ethnicities.

 

Q: With the naming of the common candidate there were many from the government camp that crossed over and there is speculation that more are ready to cross over. How much of these UPFA members do you expect will cross over?

A: We don’t know yet. Perhaps except for the Rajapaksa family, all the others might cross over and we expect them to join this common forum.

Q: Do you think that this common candidate could muster the support of the minority parties and the rural communities who have so far been ardent supporters of the current president?

A: That is a part that must be handled by the United National Party. We have the biggest vote base of 4-4.5 million votes and it is our responsibility to gain the confidence of the rural communities and get the support.

 

Q: There is speculation that the joint opposition is planning on defeating the final budget vote on the 24th. Is this true?

A: We are certainly not worried about the budget. In fact we are pleased that the government servants have been given a pay hike but we intend to give them more. However as far as the budget is concerned, we are not worried and let’s wait and see what happens.

 

Q: The joint opposition is very jubilant now with the crossing over of many of the prominent government ministers. However, do you think that the president is going to just sit back and accept defeat or do you expect him to react in any manner and if he does how prepared is the joint opposition to deal with it?

A: Yes definitely. We have realized that it would not be easy for us to stand up alone and that is why we have joined up with all these parties to form this joint coalition. We are making a common platform and this coalition is not made up persons with individual agendas and instead it is in order to find common solutions for the issues facing the country. We are doing all this on behalf of the country. We have even as a party put the country first before party in a bid to safeguard democracy.

 

Q: The parties that are coming together to support this common candidate, in the next general election could decide to contest on their own. If so how do you plan on keeping these parties together for a common cause?

A:  Yes certainly. Everyone is having their own identity but we have come to this common platform with the primary aim of abolishing the executive presidency as it is not a good thing for the country to have a single person hold so much power.  That was the main criteria that brought us together and that is what we aim to accomplish.

1 Comment for “We Realised It Wouldn’t Be Easy For Us To Stand Alone – Daya Gamage”

  1. carlion

    If this man Maithripala Sirisena is an honest person why did he not resign from his ministerial post without suffering for 13 years? Sudden angels!

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