BY Lankesh Gooneratne
An Interview with UPFA Puttalam District MP Sanath Noshantha Perera who has been Suspended from the SLFP for allegedly criticising President Mauthripala sirisena’s leadership in a TV Debate
Q;What is your opinion about being suspended as a Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) member?
A: I actually think that I should not be suspended because we have a lot of politicians who leave the party and come back. But from the beginning I have been a loyal member of the SLFP. I will remain as a member of the SLFP in the future as well and I will never change parties for my own benefit. “I am a pure SLFPer.”
I do not think there is anyone who can take disciplinary action against me because I have been loyal to the party throughout.
Why I am claiming myself as a pure SLFPer is that my family has gifted two persons for the well-being of the party. I have donated my own blood to the party. I have lost my house when it was burnt to the ground in 1977 and 2001.
When the United National Party (UNP) was elected in 1977 they burnt down my father’s house because he was a diehard SLFP member. Even his own lands were distributed among members of the UNP.When my father was mentally tortured by the UNP he decided to commit suicide.
In December 2001 we organized 21 Bodhi puja’s for the well-being of former President Chandrika Kumaratunga after she was injured in a bomb blast. However, during the puja my brother was shot dead.
As politicians who sacrificed their lives and houses I am not a member of the SLFP who should be suspended.
Q: What is the reason to take disciplinary action against you?
A: When I participated in a debate with MP Lakshman Seniviratne a verbal battle occurred between the two of us. I told him that he became a Parliamentarian by giving bribes to other candidates. Then he said he believes in what President Maithripala Sirisena says.
Again I reminded him that President Sirisena told us that we should not participate in activities which can harm the country. Seneviratne also said all members of the SLFP should work under President Sirisena’s authority but I told him that I will never be a yes-man for President Sirisena.
Then Seneviratne asked me whether I consider President Sirisena as the Chairman of the SLFP. I answered that I will never accept Sirisena as the chairman of the party because he has united with the UNP.
But if he breaks away from the UNP, I will accept him as the chairman of SLFP. This is the reason, and I do not think I did anything to violate the party discipline.
Q: What is actually happening in the SLFP?
A: President Sirisena is chasing away every member of the SLFP who became first in the district. For example they tried to chase me away then he tried to chase away MP Prasanna Ranatunga who came first in the district.
If a member of the SLFP is a people’s favourite, he will be chased away.
For the first time in history I got the highest number of votes in the Puttalam District.
After winning the highest number of votes in the district an attempt was made to chase me away. President Sirisena does not want to develop the party, but to destroy it.
Q: Do you believe that there will be a chance to build a SLFP government in the future?
A: if we are planning to form a SLFP government in the near future, first we should clear our contradictions. If there is a contradiction between us, how can we form a government? Because of this situation the UNP is getting stronger and planning to keep their government for a long period because there are many conflicts in the SLFP.
There are some members of the SLFP who are working to destroy the SLFP and keep the UNP in power for their own benefit. There are a lot of politicians like that.
At the moment the SLFP does not have a clear path on what to achieve because there are conflicts between the Joint Opposition and the SLFP. But the Joint Opposition wants to save the SLFP from falling into the UNP trap. Therefore, we will work towards that.
Q; If several members are kicked out of the party, how can they contest? Are they going to form a new party?
A: Still we have not thought about forming a party and we do want to form an SLFP government at any term but looking at what’s happening if we are kicked out of the party we will have to form a party and contest the election.
If we plan to form a new party, God bless the SLFP!
It is also clear that if we are kicked out of the SLFP, there will be nobody to get votes from the districts. It means eventually the SLFP will be destroyed as the UNP and President Sirisena want.
Q:Did they conduct a disciplinary inquiry before taking action against you?
A: No, not at all. It is like the Hitler’s law. When they feel like they kick out members from the party which is not ethical. Even I got to know I have been suspended through the media.
Q;Are you planning to file a case against this matter?
A: Yes.If we are kicked out from the party, we will definitely file a case against the decision.
Q: Did you try to contact the General Secretary of the SLFP, Minister Duminda Dissanayake to find out whether you have been suspended?
A: No I didn’t. I was not at all informed by the SLFP that I have been suspended. I got to know about it through the media.
Q: Do you think the party will lift your suspension?
A: I know that I will be called back to the party because the chairman President Sirisena is a person who has forgiven the LTTE member who attempted to kill him. So I believe that I will be forgiven.
Q: The Central Committee of the SLFP also told that they will take disciplinary action against members who participated in the Pada Yathra. What’s your opinion?
A: There were more than a million people attending the Pada Yatra. Then the Central Committee will have to take action against each and every person who attended the Pada Yathra.
Q; Why can’t you accept President Sirisena as the Chairman of the SLFP?
A: Because his activities benefit the UNP. He wants to form a UNP government, not an SLFP government. Therefore, the chairmanship should be given to a person who is anti-UNP and working towards forming an SLFP government.