The Sunday Leader

“Government Has Kept Its Promises” – Range Bandara

By Camelia Nathaniel

The people voted for change purely on the expectations that the current Ranil/Maithripala coalition would make many changes for the betterment of the country and deliver on their election promises of bringing those previous corrupt politicians to book and also making changes that would reduce the powers of the executive presidency. However today the people are somewhat disgruntled as there has been much talk only and that the present government has not delivered on many of its promises made to the people prior to the elections. In fact last week the very person who was instrumental in bringing this alliance together Venerable Sobitha Thera too criticised the current government during a television interview, for not honouring their promises. However speaking to The Sunday Leader, State Minister of Power and Energy Palitha Range Bandara said that the United National Party (UNP) has faith in President Maithripala Sirisena and believes he will not work against the UNP at the next General elections.

Excerpts of the interview:

 

Q. As the UNP how do you plan to face the next upcoming elections?

A. We will face the elections in the same manner that we have been doing in the past. There is no need to change anything in the way we were contesting elections.

 

Q. There have been views expressed that your party will  not be able to deliver on the promises made to the people within this 100 days and hence this government should continue for the next two years and then go for an election. How do you see this situation?

A. We have kept our promise to the people and kept our promise on the 100 day program. Accordingly the people have come to realise that we are not the type of politicians who have played them out but we have come into power and delivered what we had promised the people. We have done our part regarding the 100 day promise, but there still are some pledges which require some legal framework and if we receive the support of the other parties we can complete those too within the promised time period.

 

Q. But although you say you have delivered on your promises, many of the promises made by your party such as the right to information act, reducing the powers of the executive presidency, charging the former corrupt politicians etc have not been implemented  so far. What have you got to say about these allegations?

A. Well we have proposed a constitutional change in March in order to fulfill our promises to the people. Therefore once these constitutional changes are made we will be able to fulfill our pledges.

 

Q. Do you still believe that you can deliver on all the promises made within the 100 days?

A. Certainly yes. Like I said we have delivered on many of the promises and only those requiring constitutional changes remain.

 

Q. At the next election will your party be contesting under the swan symbol or the elephant symbol?

A. At the moment our decision is to contest under the elephant symbol.

 

Q. The SLFP had agreed to back a unity government based on some conditions, but considering the SLFP support backing President Maithripala Sirisena, do you feel that at some point he may decide not to back the UNP?

A. We believe that since president Sirisena was brought to power due to the backing and support of the UNP, hence we hope he will have gratitude and back us in the future too. As a balanced and level headed person we have faith in him.

 

Q. How sure are you that he will not betray your party and side with the SLFP?

A. We hope he will not breach our trust and he will keep to his word. Only time will tell, so let’s wait and see. Even if it is not so our leader is capable enough to steer our party to victory and the people know that it is our party that has the capability and intelligence to run this country. That is why they voted for us this time and we are certain they will do the same at the next election. Moreover the people also know that our leader Ranil Wickremesinghe is the only leader who has the ability to garner support both locally and internationally. Hence we are not worried.

 

Q. However although you claim that the people have faith in the UNP, there is a lot of criticism even coming from within your coalition that the UNP is only engaging in a Rajapaksa revenge campaign and are not interested in serving the people. What is your take on this?

A. No we don’t feel that the people are dissatisfied with us. I meet the general public almost every day and they seem quite satisfied with us and they have no complaints. Therefore I don’t think that these allegations have any basis.

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