Prelate accuses politicians of using religious programme for their ends

Sajith Premadasa denies he offered donations
By Damith Wickremesekera

The prelate of a leading temple in Horana revealed yesterday that he had rejected a Rs. 50,000 donation from Sajith Premadasa’s Sasunata Aruna programme because the Hambantota Parliamentarian was the cause of disunity in the United National Party (UNP).

Venerable Ingiriye Vipulasara Thera, the Chief Incumbent of the Vijayabodhi Raja Maha Vihara in Horana told the Sunday Times “I refused to accept it because Sajith Premadasa and another parliamentarian were known in the UNP for creating problems while remaining in the party.” He added “The correct position is that I rejected the money on the grounds that Mr. Premadasa was trying to use the programme for political purposes.”

Venerable Ingiriye Vipulasara Thera

He said “Mr. Premadasa visited several other temples. Posters had been put up that Mr. Premadasa was addressing the gatherings. If I took the money my temple too would have been used for the same purpose. I do not have to take money from him and allow the temple to be used as a place for his propaganda. I have not allowed my temple premises to be misused by any politician”.

In a tape recorded interview at his temple, Ven. Vipulasara Thera said that on October 30 (when the Grama Charika programme was held in Horana), a person identifying himself as secretary to Sajith Premadasa telephoned me. “He told me Mr. Premadasa has launched a programme known as Sasunata Aruna and plans to allocate Rs 50,000 each to temples to carry out development work. He said that Mr. Premadasa also hopes to make this donation to my temple. He wanted the bank account number of the dayaka sabha (lay committee),” the Thera said.

Ven. Vipulasara Thera said he told the caller that if a donation has to be made, it should be to the account of the Sahana Seva Samithiya (Society for Relief Work).

“Though I gave the account number, I told him that Sajith Premadasa is a person who is well known in the party for creating problems whilst remaining in the party. The caller kept the phone down when I said this,” the Thera said.

However, Mr. Premadasa denied he had offered any donations to Ven. Vipulasara Thera’s temple. He told the Sunday Times yesterday that none of his secretaries got in touch with the prelate. "I have offered money only if there is a request from a temple. I offered assistance only to four temples. That was after requests were received from them," he said.

Entrance to the Vijayabodhi Raja Maha Vihara

“I have been of the view that when there is a leader of the party there shouldn’t be a power struggle. If the leader steps down or there is some change Mr. Premadasa can try to be the leader, but not otherwise,” Ven. Vipulasara Thera said.

The Thera added, “This same secretary had called the head of the dayaka sabha and wanted to get two letters from me. One was to have a meeting at the temple and the other was a request for the use of a loud speaker. I instructed the head of the dayaka sabha that the money was being given with an ulterior motive of trying to have a meeting in the temple premises. I told him that we should reject the money.”

Ven. Vipulasara Thera raised protests over reports in at least one newspaper saying that all prelates had accepted money. “This is a complete concoction,” he said.

A member of the dayaka sabha who did not wish to be identified said the temple had also received several abusive telephone calls after the chief incumbent refused to accept the money.

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