The people are grateful to the UPFA
Rejecting allegations that the UPFA was misusing state property for campaign purposes, former parliamentarian and chief UPFA candidate from the Trincomalee district for the eastern provincial council, M.K. D.S Gunawardena in an interview with The Sunday Times says he is confident that the ‘liberation’ of the east under the Rajapaksa regime is alone sufficient to make them the victors at the May 10 polls.
Q : What do you think was the main reason to hold the provincial council elections ?
A : President Mahinda Rajapaksa has successfully ended the war in the east and created a conducive climate where all three communities, Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims can live in harmony. I believe it is to endorse this view that elections are being held.
Q : But what was the urgency?
A : In the past the leaders of this country were unable to end the war in the east and liberate it from the clutches of the Tigers. Now that the war is ended I believe the President felt it was his duty to restore civil administration as soon as possible. Conducting an election is one way in which he hopes to bring about this change to a war-ravaged area.
Q : You were once a police officer who served in this same area. As a former law-enforcing officer how can you justify contesting alongside the Pillayan group that has yet to disarm some of its members?
A : They made a democratic decision and entered the political main stream. The JVP too was once an armed group. We cannot marginalize the Pillayan group because some of them still carry arms. There are more than 1,200 candidates for this election and they have all been provided with security or weapons for their safety. There have been no complaints of any armed groups in the Trincomalee district.
Q What is the assurance that a free and fair election would be held when there are armed groups still operating in the east?
A : It will be free and fair. The local council poll that was held in Batticaloa in March was ample proof that a peaceful election can be held in the east.
Q : What development projects have you got lined up if your party assumes office at the polls?
A : A large number of development projects have already been launched under the Mahinda Chinthanaya programme. But more projects need to be launched.
Q: Former President J.R. Jayewardene temporarily merged the north and east provinces and the provincial council did not last for more than three months when it was established then. What makes you think it would work now?
A : We have confidence that it will be a success. It is working in other provinces and we will show that it can be done so in the east too.
Q : Why do you think the people should vote for the UPFA?
A: The people must remember that it is Mahinda Rajapaksa who ended the war in the east and created an environment where they can live without fear. That reason alone is sufficient for the people to vote for our party. Before the east was liberated, thousands of displaced people were living in terrible conditions in camps. The people faced death and destruction. Today all this suffering has been brought to an end.
Q : Although the government has declared that the east has been liberated some LTTE groups are still known to be operating in the area. How would this affect the election?
A : A guerrilla war cannot be halted 100 per cent. Pockets of small groups could always emerge and create some destruction. You do not need a large group to plant claymore mines or attack security forces intermittently.
Q :How would you assess the election campaign so far?
A : It has been a successful.
Q : There are strong allegations that some members are misusing state property such as vehicles. The JVP too has raised this allegation several times.
A : We reject this allegation. State property is not being misused. But if a minister comes for the campaign he would naturally use the vehicles allocated to him officially. Other than that there is no misuse of state property. Our party has been around for a long time, we do not violate election laws. But on the other hand the JVP is a party known for breaking the law.
Q :What about state guest houses being used to accommodate those campaigning for the polls?
A: The bookings were done legally.