UNP is united and stronger than ever: Marikkar

Friday, 27 March 2015 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Young Western Provincial Councillor and UNP organiser for Kolonnawa upbeat of party’s prospects in upcoming general election but insists fulfilling of pledges made to people is key

Western Provincial Councillor and UNP Organiser for the Kolonnawa electorate S.M. Marikkar who polled highest votes at the last Provincial Council poll is upbeat of party’s prospects in the upcoming General Election. However he warned that expeditious fulfilment of the pledges made to people in the run up to 8 January Presidential election is key. In a no holds barred interview with the Daily FT, Marikkar makes a critical assessment of the status of national politics so far. Following are excerpts of an interview with the Daily FT:         Q: What are your thoughts about the latest developments in local politics? A:This is a very funny situation. No one knows what exactly is happening. People expected good governance, the economy to be back on track, employment opportunities for the youth and speeding up the development process and so on. While doing all that, they wantedthe new Government to bring the robbers and criminals before the law. People know how some of the politicians attached to the previous Governmentplayed out billions of rupees and acted irresponsibly, putting the country in jeopardy.But what has this Government done to fulfil those expectations of the people?Just after 70 days, those thieves, rogues, criminals and drug peddlers are now in the Government. There was so much talk about the 100 day program. We are 30 days away from the deadline and half the pledges have not been fulfilled. After 20 days of assuming office, Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe fulfilled his promise of bringing down the prices of some essential goods. Wickremesinghe may not cuddle little children and carry them everywhere he goes, but he reduced milk powder prices. Wickremesinghe may not pat on elderly people and crack a joke when he meets people, but he reduced fuel, gas and bread prices so that people could live a better life. We have to give the credit for the Interim Budget and all the relief given to the innocent people from that Budget, but this Government has failed to take action against the corruptionand misconduct that took place during the previous Government. That needs to be corrected immediately. People want to reveal these people, conduct proper investigations and bring them before the law. I am a politician who works with the grassroots level. People are discouraged – they question us as to why this Government has not done anything against the wrongdoers. Before the election,the Rajapaksa Government labelled Maithripala Sirisena as the “Facebook President,” but today it is evident that social media campaign conducted by the youth made a significant contribution towards Sirisena’s victory. We shouldn’t undervalue the capabilities of the youth. They are well aware about international politics. They know the importance of good governance. If this Government fails to deliver what is expected by the youth, they will not hesitate to make another ripple in local politics.Youth no longer fancy going behind politicians like the good old days. What I am trying to say is that the youth is a vital factor in politics, so it is important for this Government to fulfil the pledges made before the election. I personally feel there is no big difference between the previous Government and the present Government. It is the same people carrying on the same work.   Q: Why are you making these accusations? Who should be held responsible? A:I am not accusing anyone. I am reminding this Government that they have made certain promises which they are deliberately failing to fulfil and as a result people are getting agitated. If this Government wants to continue to be in power, they should get down to the business of fulfilling those pledges right now before it is too late. If they are unable to carry out certain things, they should tell that to the people and explain that certain factions in the Government are not allowing them to do their work.We shouldn’t leave the people in dark. Unfortunately the Government is not doing that. I walked from house to house in Kolonnawa campaigning to bring this Government to power. The UNPers were harassed and threatened for the last 20 years, but during the last election they took a risk, put their lives in danger and took to the streets to bring the UNP to power. They don’t get houses, they don’t get Samurdhi, and they don’t get employment. If a UNP administration is not going to look after their supporters, no other Government will do that. Take Champika Ranawaka and the JathikaHelaUrumaya. They never had any threats. Their party members haven’t faced half of the difficulties we UNPers have gone through. But they claimif it wasn’t for the JHU, this victory would not have been possible. They take credit for all the good things that happen, but when there are faults the blame goes to Ranil Wickremesinghe and the UNP. It is very clear that parties like the JHU has their own agenda. Before coming to power they said the executive presidency should be abolished, but now they don’t utter a word about it. Remember this – the UNP did not shed blood and sweat to make Champika Ranawaka the next executive president of this country. We will never let that happen.   Q: What needs to be done? A:We have got the best opportunity to make a change. In our Parliament we have drug dealers, ethanol dealers and criminals who should be in Welikada and Mahara.This may be our last opportunity; if we don’t make use of it, it will be too late. Unfortunately certain factions in the Government do not want to make any change.   Q: Are you saying the UNP is toothless? A:I am not saying the UNP is toothless, but there are smaller parties who try to take the power into their hands. We saw how the previous Government danced to the tunes of parties like the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress and the Workers Congress. We will not the JHU do that to this Government.   Q: Is there a clash between the UNP and the JHU? A:The UNP has no issues with any political party. The only problem is that UNP alone cannot fulfil the promises we made to the people. That is exactly why politicians like us who work at grass root level urge the party to expedite their work.   Q: You have a responsibility to fulfil those pledges–surely you cannot put the blame on other parties and wash your hands? A:No, we are not trying to wash our hands, but the party must tell the people what is happening inside the Government. On the other hand, the UNP does not have a majority in Parliament. The majority is a bizarre one created by the Rajapaksa administration by offering improper privileges, benefits and bribes to Parliamentarians. The UNP should first get rid of those people. Parliament should be a clean place, free of such criminals and thieves.   Q: What are your views about the National Government? A:People who bet Maithripala Sirisena would not come to power are now in the Government. People who threatened to put Chandrika Kumaratunga on the road in her underwear are now in the Government. People whom we accused of corruption and misconduct are now in this Government. I can go on… what I am trying to say is that this is a joke. However, if someone says politically this is a good movesince it helps to carry out the pledges they have made to the people, then I think all we can do is sit back and watch what is actually going to happen.However, we should never forget this was the same mechanism Mahinda Rajapaksa used to remain in power.To secure his position, Mahinda Rajapaksa offered ministerial posts to anyone he preferred. I have concerns about whether this is an initiative to side-line the UNP and have the SLFP come in to power in a future election.   Q: Do you agree that the SLFP is once again in a powerful position? The President, the Opposition and majority of the Cabinet are from the SLFP? A:No, we will not let that happen. Of the 62 lakhs who voted for the President, over 50 lakhs are UNP votes. Nobody can question our strength and capabilities. Although Mahinda Rajapaksa tried to divide the UNP, today we are united and stronger than ever. Today the SLFP is divided and ailing as a party.The timing is favourable for the UNP.   Q: You work closely with the grass root level. What do people say about postponing the election? A:Who says elections have been postponed? They will be held as scheduled. The promised good governance and ‘MaithriPalanaya’ cannot be achieved by having drug peddlers and ethanol dealers as Cabinet ministers. In order to have good governance, we must go for an election and bring clean, smart and educated politicians to Parliament. Postponing the election means this Government is delaying establishing good governance. Changing the President alone will not help to change the present political system. We need a change in the Parliament as well.   Q: Do you think going for a general election will be favourable to the UNP? A:Definitely, there is no question about that. We can have a clear victory. I am political analyst. Today some claim they joined the Opposition putting their lives were danger. I am telling you, if Harin Fernando didn’t perform well at the Uva election, none of the previous Government members would have joined the Opposition during the presidential election. They crossed over because Harin Fernando obtained 41% in Uva and they knew collecting another 10% was not a difficult task. And how did we win the election? State property was misused; they used State powers to the maximum during the election campaign. Election laws were manipulated. But we won.Now under a UNP administration the election will be free and fair. If we could win under a Rajapaksa regime, why can’t we win the election now? And whom are we competing with? The SLFP is divided. One faction wants Mahinda Rajapaksa, the other says they support Maithripala Sirisena. There is another group who wants to join the UNP. There is no unity among the SLFP. This would be the ideal time for the UNP to go for an election because our victory is evident. However, there are smaller parties which still do not have a clear idea about what they want to do. Due to this uncertainty, they are trying to postpone the election. We should not let that happen. We shouldn’t let these people put the country in jeopardy to achieve personal gains.   Q: Hirunika Premechandra has said she will not hesitate to walk away from this Government if it fails to deliver what has been promised. Does this mean there is disappointment among everyone who supported President Sirisena? A: I am unable to comment about her kind of politics. I work at the grass root level and the type of politics I am engaged in is totally different from her kind of politics. I am unable to comment simply because I don’t understand her kind of politics.   Q: What do you have to say about the 19th amendment? A:I am all for it. The most significant feature in the 19thAmendment is that there will never be another dictatorial leader.The 19thAmendment will pave the way to good governance. I wholeheartedly support the 19thAmendment.   Q: What are your remarks about the electoral reforms? A:The election system should be changed. We should not let businessmen decide the fate of politicians. However, the reforms should not be to please extremists and such other groups. We have to make sure Parliament represents every section and all political ideologies. However, this cannot be done in a hasty manner. There should be a proper discussion in this regard and we must adopt necessary changes before going ahead with the reforms.

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