No support for Mahinda if he supports federalism: JHU
By Santhush Fernando
The Jathika Hela Urumaya parliamentary group leader Ven. Athureliye Rathana Thera explaining his party’s position on the upcoming Presidential Election and on plans to join the JVP with the fielding of a common candidate said the JHU had no objections to uniting with the JVP despite its hostile attitude towards the JHU in the aftermath of the 2004 general elections and the incidents in parliament.

“Although the JVP has been barbaric it had not been as barbaric as the LTTE. But if it is genuinely willing to correct itself, the JVP’s past will not matter only its future”, Ven. Rathana Thera told The Sunday Times in an interview.
Following are excerpts:

The Jathika Hela Urumaya came out publicly last week with an invitation to its cold war opponent the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna for the purpose of forming a JHU-JVP. What was the reason for this?

We extended an open invitation to the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna leader Somawansa Amerasinghe and are awaiting a response. This was done following a Central Committee resolution adopted last Monday. But still there is uncertainty about the policies of the JVP. We are of the view the security of the country is in grave danger, and we believe that a broad based alternative front against the Tigers should be set up if we are to save the country.

But aren’t there any differences in the policies of the two parties?
Yes. The JVP as a Marxist party accepts the dictatorship of the working class and does not accept the spiritual foundation of man, whereas we on the contrary believe in the middle path (as taught in Buddhism) which advocates freedom and democracy.

Another issue on which we differ from the JVP is concerning the rights of the majority. The JVP does not accept the right of the majority community, the Sinhalese. The reason for not recognising this is the JVP’s belief in the working-class dictatorship.

We also differ when it comes to the economy. They do not accept the right to private enterprise while we recognize it. Malaysia during former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed’s tenure rose up against private entrepreneurs. Additionally we have a policy on the Preservation of the Environment for Sustainable Development. We believe in a holistic way of life whereas the Marxists believe in a secular lifestyle.

Hasn’t the JVP in the past, been hostile towards the JHU?
Yes. Just after the 2004 General Elections the JVP tried to rob the people’s mandate to the JHU, by abducting two of our priests who were elected as members of parliament. More than that the trust placed in the JVP by nationalistic quarters has been shattered as it failed to coerce the UPFA government to protect nationalistic interests. As an example it missed out on a golden opportunity to capitalise on Karuna’s split. It lost on what the socialist sections were able to accomplish during the United Front Government in 1970. Due to the ineffectiveness of the JVP, the UPFA was worse than the UNP when it comes to the handling of the peace process. Although the JVP has been barbaric it had not been as barbaric as the LTTE. But if it is genuinely willing to correct itself, the JVP’s past will not matter to us but only its future.

UPFA presidential candidate Mahinda Rajapakse is also canvassing, portraying himself as a Sinhala Buddhist. What is your comment?
But if Mahinda declares that he too accepts the Oslo or the Tokyo Declarations or in a federal solution we will not support him. However we must note that he hasn’t been firm on the issues of national security and privatisation of state property. When President Kumaratunga was trying her level best to implement the P-TOMS, he along with the two main parties blindly helped her cause.

However he must not forget that he would not have been nominated from the SLFP if not for the nationalistic vigour created in his Party which resulted with the JHU coming into politics. So after getting nominations Mahinda has to very clearly declare his policies. If he tries to get the support of the Sinhalese quarters by playing a dual role and then isolate the voters, we would prefer Ranil to him. It will be political suicide.

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