Blames Govt. saying worse than Premadasa regime
By Chamodi Gunawardana
The Jana Satana Paada Yatharawa would be the largest march since the walk conducted from Lipton roundabout to Kataragama against the Ranasinghe Premadasa regime in 1990, claimed former President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday.
Addressing a crowd of nearly 200,000 gathered at the Lipton roundabout, Colombo in the Paada Yatharawa final point, Rajapaksa said this would be the largest show of participation against a dictatorial Government who has continuously tried to suppress the Joint Opposition march on several occasions.
“When we took to the streets in the 90s against late President Premadasa, he did not attempt to prevent us this much. This ‘shameless Government’ was seeking court support to stop our program. However finally we reached Colombo as promised,” he claimed.
Speaking further Rajapaksa said: “this United National Party (UNP) led dictatorial Government’s destiny will be the same as the world dictatorial leaders’ destiny. They all were destroyed by their own practice of abusing power.”
Joint Opposition Leader Dinesh Gunawardena added that approximately 1,500,000 people had participated for the entire march from Peradeniya Town to the Lipton roundabout. MP Wimal Weerawansa appreciated all participants who spent 60 hours in the walk with the Joint Opposition.
MP and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa greets people participating in the Paada Yaathra final lap in Colombo yesterday
- Pic by Shehan Gunasekera
According to MP Vasudeva Nanayakkara the Jana Satana Paada Yathrawa final rally was scheduled to be concluded at the Hyde Park ground, Colombo. However on Saturday the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) had notified that it was not certain as to the renovation of the Ground. The Police had subsequently informed Rajapaksa that they could use Campbell Park, Borella, for the final rally.
However the march walking towards Colombo from Kiribathgoda decided to hold its final meeting at Lipton Circus roundabout around 5.30 PM.
When protesters were passing the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) head quarters in Darley road, they shouted slogans saying the SLFP’s leadership should belong to Rajapaksa and not President Maithripala Sirisena. They claimed the SLFP was a ‘hopper stall’.
The Joint Opposition said that all 51 SLFP MPs in the Joint Opposition including Dullas Alahapperuma, Kumara Welgama, Bandula Gunawardena, Rohitha Abeygunawardena, Mahindananda Aluthgamamage, Namal Rajapaksa, Johnston Fernando, Pavithra Wanniarachchi, Prasanna Ranatunga, Keheliya Rambukwella, Lohan Ratwatte, Dilum Amunugama, Mahinda Yapa Abeywardane, Gamini Lokuge, Kanaka Herath, Kanchana Wijesekara and Shehan Semasinghe had participated in the Paada Yathrawa despite party objections.
A number of other Joint Opposition members including Udaya Gammanpila, Prof.G.L. Peiris, Tissa Vitharana, Weerakumara Dissanayake, Raja Kollure and Somaweera Chandrasiri were seen in the front line.
The march started from Peradeniya Town on Thursday and participants travelled across the Mawanelle Town limits, through Nelumdeniya and Kiribathgoda and onwards to Colombo in a five day walk. However the march caused heavy traffic and several areas including the entire Lipton roundabout area, Darley road and Hospital square were totally blocked.