The Sunday Leader

Mahinda Can Contest – Nimal Siripala

Opposition Leader and Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) MP Nimal Siripala de Silva is being talked about in the political arena very much these days and the newspaper cartoons too depict him very often. The Sunday Leader spoke to de Silva on the 19th Amendment and the role of the opposition in the present political context in the country

Following are excerpts of the interview:

Q: Let us start with your role today, what is it like?

A: I have to act an extraordinary role which was not experienced in the entire political history of the country. This is because the president Maithripala Sirisena who came into power from the United National Party (UNP) became the leader of our party Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), a group of our MPs took ministerial portfolios and crossed over to the government. But we decided to be in the opposition. This is very crucial situation. When the president is from our party, we have taken the role of the opposition. We agreed to back the 100 day programme because only in this way we can make effective 19th and 20th Amendments. Policy wise we don’t have any barrier to support the 100 day programme.

It is irrelevant who present the amendments, but we provide them with appropriate backing because of the social and policy value of the amendments. That is what we have done. We joined the government to prevent president from being a captive of the UNP. Passing the 19th and 20th amendments is a result of our joining the government.

 

Q: Do you agree with MPs crossing over to the government?

A: I don’t see any wrong in that. But without such incidents, it may be better. Today the nation is confused because it is not easy to understand what is happening. It is important to bring in such constitutional amendments, and it shows the people and the politicians what are the priorities for the country. The president needs support in the cabinet without making him a refugee of one party. Even we were able to pass the 19th amendment since many parties are in the government. Even though the people have some criticism, I think there is a positive side in this type of political behaviour. We have to realise that former president Mahinda Rajapaksa handed over the leadership of the SLFP to Maithripala Sirisena when he became the president. Accordingly the president now leads us.

The president now commited to take SLFP into power. He is not going to UNP rallies. He participated in the SLFP May Day rally but not in the UNP’s. At this moment the president has to do a twin role because he is the executive president in the country and also the leader of the SLFP. My role is to be active in this regard by being in the opposition.

 

Q: Some say that you back UNP goals by being in the opposition. What is your view on this complaint?

A: I have no reasons to balance the situation. Everything is happening according to the decisions of the opposition. The best example in this regard is the way the opposition acted over the 19th amendment. I did not bring forward my personal views there, on the other hand, there is nothing I can do myself alone. We did what the entire opposition decided together. I did not discuss anything with Ranil Wickremesinghe. I’ll never do that and there is no need.

 

Q: But UNP says that 19th Amendment did not fulfill the main goal that is the abolition of executive presidency. Your views?

A: It could have been done had the government gone for national referendum. Even though we all voted for the abolition, it will not be legal since the Supreme Court may not accept such arbitrary amendments. That is why the president said in his election manifesto that only the amendments that do not need national referendum will be passed in the parliament when he wins. So we have to be satisfied with what we have got. Promise has been given to bring in more effective amendments after the general election. UNP has to bear this situation as we cannot pass anything further according to present constitution. If we need to repeal what is left, we have to go for a national referendum. President has fulfilled what he promised. But it is half of what the country needs. We have to change the election system as well because every one says that preferential voting system is the worst corrupt system. Only by removing this system we can minimise election corruption and malpractices.

 

Q: So, is 20th amendment on the card?

A: At present, its cabinet draft has been completed. It will be gazetted very soon. After that it will be sent to the Supreme Court and then to parliament. Like 19th, the 20th will be passed in the parliament. We told the nation we will support 19th only if the 20th will be passed. Our aim is to fulfill both.

 

Q: Whatever happened, the citizens did not feel a difference, they are under severe burdens. Your comment?

A: These amendments are needed for good governance. They reflect the nation’s good political morality. The people will not feel them in short term. But in the long term, they will feel the difference and be happy.

 

Q: What do you think about the mass power rallies round the former president Mahinda Rajapaksa these days?

A: I also agree with the present social and political situation in the country that he must re-enter politics. The SLFP is a party that always faces the reality. President Maithripala Sirisena too is a realistic politician. That is why he said that former president can contest in any area or district in the country. I am also inviting the former president with great respect to contest at this general election.

 

Q: Is there any future for the SLFP without Mahinda. Is reappearance of Mahinda imperative for the winning of SLFP?

A: I think think we will be stronger if Mahinda joins us. However, any party gets strong when different powers gather round it. We have to take the party to the winning post.

Q: Wimal Weerawansa recently charged you that you are a sub-contractor of the UNP. What is this contract?

A: In politics, people may make charges due to various reasons. But I do not accept these charges. Further, I do not need to have rift with Weerawansa. We are all in the SLFP coalition yet. But it is very unfavorable for us to level charges internally at each other. I know I am not a UNP contractor. Whoever the leader of the SLFP, I am with him. I did not leave the party for any reason.

 

Q: Is that means following Maithripala by being in the opposition?

A: No. In the incidence of Arjuna Mahendra, I opposed. We talked against the political revenges. We spoke about the abandonment of development projects. What is more there for us to do? Are we told to fast in front of the presidential palace? We agreed to salient actions of the government and were against its bad actions. It is the need of the time, it is not backing it. In the party I support him.

 

Q: How is the latest situation of the effort of incorporating Mathiripala, Chandrika and Mahinda?

A: It is very important. President has already done his best in this regard. That is why we let Mahinda to contest at the next general election.

 

Q: Do you agree if Mahinda becomes the prime minister?

A: Yes, if he gets the preference of the majority of the parliament, I agree. It is a different aspect whether I receive the due justice and fairness by doing so. For the party and the citizens, I am ready to sacrifice. So I invite Mahinda to renter the politics.

 

Q: So far it is just words. Why it is not happened yet?

A: Mahinda should be asked. He did not say anything on the issue yet. The decision is in his hand.

 

Q: It is being rumoured that he is going to contest from another party. Is it true?

A: I don’t think he will ever contest from another party. Emerged from this party and rescued the country from the same party, Mahinda will not change side. Some may need to mislead him, but I don’t think he will get caught in those traps.

 

Q: You stated that the party has not done justice to you. That means you are now disgruntled with the party?

A: No. In politics such things are normal. But I said that I am always with the party and its leader. Those who do not like my stand, criticise me. But we do what is most appropriate. They will applaud if I leave the party. Wherever the symbols of hand and beetle leave (Bulath) and the SLFP, I am there.

 

Q: You have the majority in the parliament. Why the opposition cannot remove the minority government of Ranil Wickrmesinghe?

A: President in his election manifesto promised to appoint Ranil the Prime Minister. That is why Ranil is there. If we go against Ranil, we may put the president in an uncomfortable situation. It is in the hand of the president to remove him or dissolve the parliament in such an unfavorable situation.

 

Q: What is your view on the present political situation of the country?

A: The May Day celebration was held very well under the leadership of Maithripala Sirisena. He is now campaigning with us around the country for the party. In this way, there will no rifts in the party. Now Mahinda too must join the party in this election campaign to win the election.

 

Q: What message do you have to the country as the opposition leader?

A: We will definitely form the next government. Then we have the government as well as the President.

 

Q: Is there any future for the SLFP without Mahinda. Is reappearance of Mahinda imperative for the winning of SLFP?

A: I think we will be stronger if Mahinda joins us. However, any party gets strong when different powers gather round it. We have to take the party to the winning post.

 

Q: Wimal Weerawansa recently charged you that you are a sub-contractor of the UNP. What is this contract?

A: In politics, people may make charges due to various reasons. But I do not accept these charges. Further, I do not need to have rift with Weerawansa. We are all in the SLFP coalition yet. But it is very unfavorable for us to level charges internally at each other. I know I am not a UNP contractor. Whoever the leader of the SLFP, I am with him. I did not leave the party for any reason.

 

Q: Is that means following Maithripala by being in the opposition?

A: No. In the incidence of Arjuna Mahendra, I opposed. We talked against the political revenges. We spoke about the abandonment of development projects. What is more there for us to do? Are we told to fast in front of the presidential palace? We agreed to salient actions of the government and were against its bad actions. It is the need of the time, it is not backing it. In the party I support him.

 

Q: How is the latest situation of the effort of incorporating Mathiripala, Chandrika and Mahinda?

A: It is very important. President has already done his best in this regard. That is why we let Mahinda to contest at the next general election.

 

Q: Do you agree if Mahinda becomes the prime minister?

A: Yes, if he gets the preference of the majority of the parliament, I agree. It is a different aspect whether I receive the due justice and fairness by doing so. For the party and the citizens, I am ready to sacrifice. So I invite Mahinda to renter the politics.

 

Q: So far it is just words. Why it is not happened yet?

A: Mahinda should be asked. He did not say anything on the issue yet. The decision is in his hand.

 

Q: It is being rumoured that he is going to contest from another party. Is it true?

A: I don’t think he will ever contest from another party. Emerged from this party and rescued the country from the same party, Mahinda will not change side. Some may need to mislead him, but I don’t think he will get caught in those traps.

 

Q: You stated that the party has not done justice to you. That means you are now disgruntled with the party?

A: No. In politics such things are normal. But I said that I am always with the party and its leader. Those who do not like my stand, criticise me. But we do what is most appropriate. They will applaud if I leave the party. Wherever the symbols of hand and beetle leave (Bulath) and the SLFP, I am there.

 

Q: You have the majority in the parliament. Why the opposition cannot remove the minority government of Ranil Wickrmesinghe?

A: President in his election manifesto promised to appoint Ranil the Prime Minister. That is why Ranil is there. If we go against Ranil, we may put the president in an uncomfortable situation. It is in the hand of the president to remove him or dissolve the parliament in such an unfavorable situation.

 

Q: What is your view on the present political situation of the country?

A: The May Day celebration was held very well under the leadership of Maithripala Sirisena. He is now campaigning with us around the country for the party. In this way, there will no rifts in the party. Now Mahinda too must join the party in this election campaign to win the election.

 

Q: What message do you have to the country as the opposition leader?

A: We will definitely form the next government. Then we have the government as well as the President.

5 Comments for “Mahinda Can Contest – Nimal Siripala”

  1. Lima

    BETTER NO MAHINDA , CHASE THE ROGUE AND THE UNEDUCATED ELECTED MPS LIKE ROHITHA FROM PAYAGALA , HE IS A DRIVER FOR BERUWALA UC CHAIRMAN , NOW HE IS A THUG AND UDNERWORLD ,HOW CAN HE KNOW TO RUN A MINSTRY , HE WAS SENT TO ENGLAND BY MAHINDA ROGUE TO ROB 500 MILLION AND CAME SLOWLY TO COUNTRY
    THESE ARE ROGUES IN PARLIAMENT ,
    CHASE THEM ALL AND GET THE GOOD GRADAUTES Y0UNG GUYS

  2. THE PEOPLE ARE CONFUSED. MS CAME FORWARD AS PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE AFTER UNP APPOINTED HIM AS THE COMMON CANDIDATE. DUE TO THIS DECISION UNP GEN SECRETARY CROSSED OVER TO MR CAMP. NONE OF THE SLFP MEMBERS OTHER THAN THOSE WHO CROSSED OVER WITH MS, TALKED ANY GOOD ABOUT MS. THEY CRITICIZED MS. NONE OF YOU EXPECTED MS TO WIN THE ELECTIONS. NOW YOU ARE ALL RALLYING ROUND HIM AND EVEN HAVE ACCEPTED CABINET PORTFOLIOS. NOW YOU ALL TALK GOOD ABOUT MS WITHOUT ANY POLICY AND SUPPORT HIM ON THE AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION. ARE YOU DOING THESE TO GET MORE CABINET APPOINTMENTS IN THE FUTURE?

  3. He is hopefull SLFP CAN WIN THE NEXT ELECTION to form a govt.
    What if then president decided do that Ranil should be prime minister

  4. gamarala

    Mahinda R must not be allowed to become an MP.
    He will again ruin good governance.

  5. sangaralingham

    presidents once their term of office finished must retire honourably and participate ib various voluntary activities to keep country united with all living happily with no political biases

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