Saturday, 04 February 2023
“We don’t have a Mahinda Rajapaksa phobia"

“We don’t have a Mahinda Rajapaksa phobia"

“We don’t have a Mahinda Rajapaksa phobia. We have defeated him and he is no longer a threat to us. Remember, our party is not in politics to defeat Rajapaksa,” says Nishantha Warnasinghe, Media Spokesperson of the United National Front for Good Governance (Jathika Hela Urumaya). Following are excerpts of an interview with Warnasinghe:

What are you plans for the upcoming election?

Our party decided to contest the election alone. As a result we have changed the name and party symbol. People in the country want a political force that can continue the mandate given on 8 January. We decided it is our responsibility to listen to the call of the people and act according to that.

Why did you change the party name and symbol? What difference will that make?

The Jathika Hela Urumaya has an identity. We felt that certain people were reluctant to join us or accept us because of the perception they had about our party. At this point people want good governance, democracy, revival of the judicial system and a better country. None of the political parties truly want to deliver what people wants. Therefore the JHU has come forward to fulfil what the people want.

Now our goal will be bringing good governance, democracy, an independent and impartial judicial system. In order to do that we had to change the party name and symbol. Until the election is over the JHU will be known as the United National Front for Good Governance and the symbol will be a diamond.

President Sirisena and the United National Front invited your party to work with them. Why did you reject their invitation and decide to go solo?

It is a policy matter. It was due to this reason we decided to leave the UPFA. We don’t think any of the parties have a genuine desire to fulfil the pledges made during the presidential election. They are not bothered about safeguarding the mandate given to us on 8 January.

These parties haven’t changed to suit the 8 January mandate; they have not altered their policies. Their ideologies are still the same. They have changed the shape of their parties to fit the task that was given to us by the people of this country. In such a scenario, we need to take leadership and tell the people that we are ready to continue the change they voted for on 8 January.

How many seats can you secure at the election?

We cannot predict a number. We feel the academics, intellectuals and the middle class will not support the two main parties, simply because they have failed to fulfil what they have pledged. We would like to tell those people that we are ready to lead them and deliver what is expected from us.

But political analysts say your decision to contest alone will not help you to secure even the three seats you obtained at the last election?

That is the nature of politics. Everything depends on the verdict of the people. We shouldn’t make any predictions on what the end result will be. Our decision may not be in favour of the party but it is the best we could do to the country. What matters to us are the country and the people.

You sound like you too are uncertain about whether the party could obtain the required amount of seats?

How can I give an exact number of seats we can get? Not only us, none of the parties can come up with figures. The political situation in the country at present is such that no one can forecast what the end result will be. I can say we will secure 10 seats or even 20. But we should never underestimate the voters. We want to do our best. We will put up a good fight. We will concentrate on creating a better platform for the voters to elect us rather than predicting the number of seats we will obtain.

Your party played a significant role in ousting the former President. How ethical it is to leave that cause and contest alone? Don’t you feel your decision will be beneficial to Mahinda Rajapaksa in his attempt to get back into politics?
Our party does not have a Mahinda Rajapaksa phobia. We have defeated him and he is no longer a threat to us. Whether the JHU’s decision to contest alone will strengthen Rajapaksa or not, if polices do not match, the only decision we can take is to leave and continue our work alone. That is exactly what we have done. Remember, the JHU is not in politics to defeat Rajapaksa.

If you had not pressurised to bring in the 20th Amendment and let the new Government hold the election in April as scheduled, don’t you feel the situation would not have been so chaotic?

Why did they include such promises in the manifesto? If the pledges were made by President Sirisena and Ranil Wickremesinghe and they take the responsibility of 100 day program, it is their duty to fulfil what they promised to the people. We fought to get the work done within the promised time period. Why would anyone accuse us for someone else’s failure?

 - Chamitha Kuruppu