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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2768

Eastern Province Election, a Referendum for Democracy and Growth

Colombo, 13 April, (Asiantribune.com): Member of Parliament and Senior Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapakse, in an interview to “Asian Tribune” said that the number one issue in the East is whether the people stabilize the liberation of the East won from the LTTE terrorists or whether let it slide back into the hands of the LTTE. The Second issue is to whether they want a Provincial Council in the East like the other seven Provincial Councils or a merged North-East Council like what the UNP and the SLMC say that they want. People in the East now have a separate Provincial Council; I believe they will want to keep it like that. Thirdly, they will have to decide how best to develop the East as planned and executed by the UPFA.Basil Rajapakse:  Politically we have already won, when our President and the Security forces liberated the East from the LTTE. It was a great victory, the first victory for the President and the security forces. Basil Rajapakse: Politically we have already won, when our President and the Security forces liberated the East from the LTTE. It was a great victory, the first victory for the President and the security forces.

Given below the excerpts of the interview with Basil Rajapakse:

Asian Tribune: There are rumors circulating that you will be succeeding Late Jeyaraj Fernandopulle as the Chief Whip of the Government in the Parliament?

Basil Rajapakse: No I don’t think so.

Asian Tribune: Anybody else in the running?

Basil Rajapakse: It is the President and the Government Group that must decide it. So far nobody has thought about it, as we are still mourning the death of our dear friend Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle.

Asian Tribune : Is there any progress in the investigation of the assassination of Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle. Have the police found details of the killers?

Basil Fernandopulle: To my knowledge no. I think that three or four police groups are busy investigating the murder.

Asian Tribune: At this point, we wish to draw your attention to the Eastern Provincial Council elections. How is UPFA‘s election campaign doing?

Basil Rajapakse: The UPFA election campaign has started and seems on track. Yesterday (11 April) we had two big meetings, in fact discussions. In Kantalai in the Trincomalee district, where all the ministers were present, we were emphasizing a grassroots approach. There were John Senivaratne, and several ministers including Dilan Perera, Rohana Dissanayake, and others. Then there was another meeting in Amparai Town Hall, which was headed by Nirmal Sripala De Silva, Athauda Senivaratne, Rohita Abayagunawardene, Puspkumara, Pavithra Wanniarachchi, Ferial Ashraff and others planning out the whole campaign arrangements.

The Batticaloa district campaign of the UPFA is headed by Susil Premajayantha, the TMVP and M.L.M. Hisbullah and the Batticaloa district is very good at the moment for us. There we had a very clear majority in the last Local Government elections. Now we are concentrating on Trinco and Amparai more. The campaign is going on but not as planned because after the loss of Minister Fernandopulle we had to make some adjustment and changes in the campaign strategy.

Asian Tribune: Who is now in charge of the Trincomalee campaign?

Basil Rajapakse: Trincomalee actually was earlier headed by Minister Fernandopulle, Berty Dissanayake, Risard Baududin and Alavi Moulama. Now it is headed by the same people including John Senivaratne and Maithripla Srisena and 20 other ministers such as Bahis from Puttalam, Hussein Bjaila, all are there.

Asian Tribune: In Amparai who heads the campaign?

Basil Rajapakse: In Amparai we have a huge team as I said earlier.

Asian Tribune: Who is leading?

Basil Rajapakse: Nirmal Sripala De Silva, Athaula Senivaratne, Karu Jayasuriya, Ferial Ashraff, Athaula.

Asian Tribune: When do you actually proposed to launch the political campaign in the East?

Basil Rajapakse: Politically we have already won, when our President and the Security forces liberated the East from the LTTE. It was a great victory, the first victory for the President and the security forces.

After that, under the leadership of Karu Jayasuriya, President wanted him to establish civil administration in the East within 180 day period. President and the government has won by establishing the AGA division secretariats, hospitals, schools, and now all are functioning in the East. By the day of nomination, we have now established democracy and the civil administration.

Now it is up to the people of the East to decide whether we should continue the work. We have found money and plans are there for the East developmental work and we have started things in earnest. Now we have to hand over to the people who are our partners to take over from there, it is for the people to decide.

The East Provincial Council election is something like a referendum.

Number one, is for the people in the East whether they approve the liberation of the East from the LTTE terrorists or whether to hand over back to the LTTE?

The Second, is whether they want a Provincial Council in the East like the other seven Provincial Councils? The UNP and the SLMC says that they want to merge East with the North. Now the People in the East have got a separate Provincial Council and now they have to decide whether they want to merge it or keep it alone without any merger.

The third one is that the development plans and funds are there and whether the people in the East want to continue and develop their province or be like what they were earlier.

These are things that the people in the East have to decide on 10th May.

Asian Tribune: At this moment, I wish to talk you about the split in the rank and file of the Janata Vimukthi Perumuna? They alleged and even JVP MP Vijitha Herath has alleged that Government was behind the split of the JVP?

Basil Rajapakse: I don’t want to talk about it because it is not our problem , but I wish they remain united and be together. Because JVP is a prominent force in the country and they have to come together. What I want to say is that the Party must unite again and remain a force.

Furthermore, regarding the East, I want to say that it is a good chance for the Eastern province people, to develop their own province which has all resources and good environment and they should all take this responsibility, and elect to have a provincial council and show the world the benefit of the Council and also for them benefit by it. The Government has done its part and it is up to them to take on from here.

Asian Tribune : Regarding the coming Sinhala Tamil New Year?

Basil Rajapakse: This is the year of lot of hope. For the record, the poverty level in the country has come down by 15 percent. That is the lowest level poverty in the Sri Lankan history. This is a very good achievement and the benefit will go to the people. Also the growth rate is recorded continuously, recorded at the highest level for continuous for the last three years and it is the highest recorded growth rate. The foreign reserves have increased and the GDP has exceeded USD 1500, and earlier it was less than USD 1000.

Today after two decades all the 25 districts, nine provinces are under one law, one judiciary and people in the country consider themselves as Sri Lankans with equal rights and enjoying equal opportunities. The people of this country are today partners in progress.

Asian Tribune: Regarding north is there any progress in the battle front.

Basil Rajapakse: There is good progress. We have to exercise restraint and to be very careful about the historical and religious places. We have to safeguard those things. We have to safeguard the lives and properties of the people in the north and our soldiers are fighting a battle under unfavorable weather conditions. Furthermore, the LTTE terrorists have laid lot of land mines and we have to be very careful.

With our modern and huge military hardware we could go into Vanni very fast, but we don’t want to do that.

- Asian Tribune -

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