Following pictorial revelations in The
Sunday Leader and our sister publication Irudina last Saturday
about the manner in which the JVP's 1,000 tanks project had
dried up - pretty fast after the fanfare with which it was
launched - Agriculture Minister Anura Dissanayake was spurred
into action. Having summoned an emergency conference at the
JVP headquarters last Monday to discuss the pictures published
in the newspaper, Dissanayake and several other JVP MPs
expressed fears that the news of a flop in their first major
project would seriously damage the party's public image.
After speaking to Ministry officials
prior to the meeting, Dissanayake had been informed that
activities were not progressing as scheduled at the tank in
Yapahuwa highlighted in the newspaper. It was decided at
Monday's meeting that necessary arrangements should be made to
cover up the little mishap via the media.
Several MPs suggested documentaries
being screened about the success of the project on Rupavahini
and ITN. Dissanayake however was not too pleased with this
idea and maintained that whatever propaganda material should
be disseminated via the private media. The Minister also urged
that whatever publicity was obtained should not appear to have
been an organised media campaign by the JVP.
The MPs then suggested that the tanks
at which renovation activities were taking place as scheduled
be chosen and media personnel taken to view the progress first
hand. Dissanayake was afraid even that would appear to have
been carefully planned. The Minister then met with Ministry
officials and asked them which of the tanks were showing
progress. He was informed that the Thalakola tank in
Anuradhapura was a good example of how well the tank project
Dissanayake spoke to the officials in
charge of the renovation of the Thalakola tank and instructed
them to inform media personnel from the Lankadeepa newspaper
and Swarnavahini about the progress in renovation activity as
if in passing and motivate them to visit the site. The
Minister ordered that the photographs and video footage
obtained during the visit also be provided to several other
media organisations. Anuruddha Bandara of the JVP's special
media unit was entrusted with the task of getting the
photographs of the tank published. And so it was.
be or not to be?
After the tank discussion was
concluded, the JVP MPs at Monday's meeting then focused their
energies on the escalating cost of living. Several organisers
said that the masses were fast becoming frustrated at the
government and the JVP for their inability to curb price
hikes. The parliamentarians decided that it was necessary at
this point for the party to agree on a course of action in the
face of this pressing issue.
JVP decided that a series of statements released via the
National Patriotic Movement (NPM) and public rallies and
protests would be the order of the day.
Propaganda Secretary Wimal Weerawansa
also said that they should use the NPM to rouse public
sentiment against the LTTE's ISGA proposals.
"I have spoken to several
ministers. All of them have told me that the rising cost of
living cannot be curtailed - this is the reality. Even we're
going to have to accept that," Weerawansa said.
His argument was that instead of
speaking out against the cost of living or the prices of
consumer goods, the JVP was better off opposing the LTTE and
its interim administration proposals.
"If we start talking about the
cost of living, in a few months we will have to withdraw
support for the government. We are not ready for that, so we
are going to have to adjust while being in government. So the
best thing to do is to talk about the ethnic issue,"
Weerawansa told the gathering.
pressing for agitation
Minister K. D. Lalkantha mentioned at
meeting that the trade unions were becoming increasingly
disillusioned and frustrated. He warned that several unions
were planning to form an alliance because of the incident of a
police assault during a protest. He also said that if this
happens they would lose control of the unions affiliated to
the party. The Minister said his opinion was that they should
use the compensation formula or the failure to grant a 70%
wage hike to public servants as issues to step out on the
streets. Several parliamentarians however, opposed these
Instead, it was decided to use the
President's repeated appeals to the party to withdraw their
case against the handing over of a Colombo port jetty to a
Dubai based flour company without the necessary cabinet
approval during the previous People's Alliance regime as
grounds to launch a public protest. It was also decided that a
letter would be issued to President Kumaratunga placing the
JVP's protest at this matter on record.
The rumour mill has been hard at work
in its efforts to determine the reasons behind President
Kumaratunga's trip to London. There was much speculation about
the date of her return and also information doing the rounds
about the fact that she was engaged in an attempt to meet with
LTTE Theoretician Anton Balasingham. Reports indicate that the
President has indeed been trying to meet Balasingham via
various channels during her stay in London, although all the
attempts have proved futile. Having realised that Balasingham
had received instructions from Wanni, Kumaratunga took off to
Scotland with her son, Vimukthi. She is reported to have spent
an entire week with Vimukthi touring the Highlands.
While the President was thus relaxing,
several changes were taking place at President's House back in
Colombo. Many of them are believed to be attributed to the
planetary changes scheduled to take place tomorrow, September
6. Several of the President's trusted astrologers placed calls
to London to warn her to take the necessary steps to avert bad
karma during this period. They instructed her to change the
structure and style of several items at President's House,
including the roof tiles, windows and doors. The President was
also told that as soon as she returns to the island, a thovil
must be performed at President's House to rid the home of bad
Kumaratunga sprang to action and
instructed her staff back home to make all the necessary
preparations for the thovil ceremony and to remove the
fittings on the date designated by the astrologers.
Accordingly, on August 27, several window and door fittings at
President's House, 90% of which are believed to be of antique
value were reportedly ordered to be removed and replaced.
to get rid of presidency
Since coming into power at the April 2
poll, the government has been consumed with finding ways and
means to abolish the executive presidency. In what is believed
to be part of this tireless effort on the part of government
legislators, a senior SLFP minister last week held talks at
the Hilton Residencies Colombo with a young opposition MP,
promising to credit Rs. 50 million in the bank account of the
leader of his party if they should agree to support the
abolition of the presidency.
The deal was, according to an insider,
Rs. 50 million to be paid in Sri Lanka and another Rs. 100
million deposited in Singapore.
The meeting took place on an apartment
on the 32nd floor of the Hilton Residencies belonging to a
prominent family of the business community, last Tuesday. The
senior minister also informed the opposition MP that as soon
as the party voted with the government in parliament
supporting moves to abolish the presidency, another Rs. 50
million would be credited in the leader's personal bank
The minister asked the young
parliamentarian to consult with the leader of his party and
submit his answer within a week, according to reports.
Last week's story about Deputy Sports
Minister Sripathi Sooriyarachchi's corruption allegation to
the President against the Health Ministry's Triposha deal had
Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva furious.
Believing it was the work of the pro-JVP
group in the SLFP, de Silva called and complained bitterly to
Minister Mangala Samaraweera who pleaded ignorance.
Samaraweera said he too had no control over Sripathi or Ruwan
Ferdinandez for that matter and that they were working to
their own agenda.
Not convinced, de Silva then called
Power and Energy Minister
Susil Premajayanth, who is also general secretary of the UPFA
and said unless the mud slinging campaign is halted pronto, he
too would have to start spilling the beans on Samaraweera and
it was the UPFA that was going to be the ultimate loser.
The affable Premajayanth said he will
do his best to bring about a rapprochement.
after assuming power or taking up their positions in the
opposition benches, the politicians of this country have a
habit of making sure they're snapped with leaders or diplomats
from the Bharat nation, in an apparent attempt to score
brownie points with Big Brother. The landscape of Indo-Lankan
politics is littered with stories of various relations between
the Bandaranaike clan and the Nehrus of India. However, an
incident during Bandaranaike's recent Indian visit indicate
that ties between the two 'royal families' were now strained.
Bandaranaike's Indian tour received
widespread publicity in the state media, possibly because he
had specifically instructed media personnel before embarking
on the visit that video footage of his meetings with Indian
Premier Manmohan Singh and Congress Party Leader, Sonia Gandhi
were to be aired repeatedly and given due publicity.
Bandaranaike's anxiousness to obtain maximum publicity may
perhaps be linked to the wide coverage Premier Mahinda
Rajapakse's meeting with Singh received not so long ago.
All this preparation came to naught
however, when Sonia Gandhi chose to ignore all Bandaranaike's
attempts to meet her. Refusing to give up hope, Bandaranaike
stayed behind in New Delhi for three days after he had
concluded all his scheduled meetings waiting for a favourable
response from Gandhi.
Leader, Ranil Wickremesinghe who has been engaged in party
reform activity since being defeated at the April polls,
visited Thanthirimale Rajamaha Viharaya last week to
distribute rations to drought affected residents in the area.
While Wickremesinghe did not plan for speeches or comments
during his visit, he was forced to do so because of the large
crowds that gathered around him. Soon afterwards,
Wickremesinghe also toured the housing scheme complex for
people living in border villages, a project proposed during
his tenure as Premier.
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