You are here:: News Center Interviews Ravi’s broadside on Colombo and national politics
 
 

Ravi’s broadside on Colombo and national politics

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Ravi_Prliament_frontUnited National Party bigwig and Colombo District Leader Ravi Karunanayake who recently created a stir in the party by resigning from the Nomination Board says there is no hidden agenda behind his move. “Nobody should be taken for granted,” says Karunanayake. “We are not convenient whipping boys for everything that is done in the district. People who have done this must meet the ramifications that flow for unilateral, arbitrary and whimsical decisions that have been taken.”


Following are excerpts of the interview:


Q: What made you quit the UNP Nomination Board in such a public manner?
A: I am a very loyal UNP member. I have been on many nomination boards. I don’t like the dissimilarity in treatment of five of the districts as opposed to Colombo. Colombo is our hotbed and I am District Leader. My Leader is also the Leader. But the way Colombo was handled was completely different. I think there should have been much more respect paid by the Nomination Board, which was willing to do Galle, Gampaha, Kalutara and Hambantota in a different way to Colombo.
Q: Do you believe there was a point in quitting the board after the nomination process was complete?
A: It was one of the newspapers that made this accusation. I walked out on 3 February, which was the first day this matter came up. The nominations closed on 5 February at 3 p.m. Anybody who is trying to prove that I resigned after the nomination process is only trying to create mischief. I actually don’t want to waste my time commenting on such allegations.
Q: In your letter of resignation you have mentioned that some of the people who were given nominations have not worked for the UNP for even a day. Don’t you think an ailing party like the UNP should select strong candidates who are capable of defeating their opponents and therefore your argument may not have any validity?
A: I am a member who is basically bringing people from the other sides to the UNP. Do you think I am alien to these types of things? Everybody must be known by us. It is a well-known fact that we are very much with the groundswell that is on. I don’t think anybody that we don’t know has come in. Colombo District was very particular about having the best team for this election. All the members with the Leader itself unanimously agreed that we will have the best choice possible. Why is it that the other five districts were given the opportunity to meet the organisers but Colombo was not given? That is my only concern.

“Like seasonal vendors, these people come into Colombo only for the election. If each of the members in the Nomination Board did their activity in their areas properly, then there wouldn’t have been a problem
With the team which has been forced onto us, we will try to do our best. We will insist that the UNP do well even though whose participate may not. Anything different to that, people who have done this have to pay and hold themselves responsible for the capricious decisions they have made
We won’t wilt under pressure. If we have skeletons, we won’t be in this game; we would have been in a different league. There are people who say they won’t cross over and later cross over to the other side. That is not the politics I am in. We are here to get this dictatorial regime out. These rumours are spread by our own people, who seem to be stuck beyond a certain point and who think that character assassinating us will help their cause
The UNP has paid the price for working along with Sri Lankan identity in mind and as a result sometimes we have lost elections. It is sad if minorities are insensitive to such. I think the minorities are not racial and chauvinistic as much as these political parties think they are. I hope that sanity prevails with such people who today are paying the price for not electing the UNP in 2005


My honest opinion is that the Leadership Council is far too big in nature. It is like a Mahinda Rajapaksa cabinet. But we still feel that we have embarked on a journey and we are surely winning the confidence of the people. And I hope the people have the confidence in us
For the sake of Sri Lanka the country needs change; a quick change. The dictatorial tendencies that are becoming concreted in the country need to be eradicated at the quickest
Look at the way the Government has handled Geneva. Look at the way Minister G.L. Pieris answered the Geneva question. We as true Sri Lankans have been playing a protective role of Sri Lanka. I am also a great believer just like the Government that we should not be bending to anybody. If we are to take that stand, the Government’s past track records should have been clean”


Q: Some allege that you agitated because some of these candidates may pose a threat to you in future?
A: It is naïve to even make such allegation. I have 20 years, five times a Parliamentarian. That is good to be said to guys who have basically not even contested elections.
Q: What do you think about the accusations that you resigned because people you promoted were not given nominations?
A: Tell me who I wanted who didn’t get nominations? All of them got nominations. That is a baseless accusation. This is just mudslinging. I resigned because I am trying to do justice for other organisers of Colombo. As the District Leader of Colombo, I am looking at other organisers who wanted their people in. I don’t have any hidden personal agenda behind this. It is the personal agenda of the other people who have done this. There is a lot of animosity and jealousy for Colombo District. Like seasonal vendors, these people come into Colombo only for the election. If each of the members in the Nomination Board did their activity in their areas properly, then there wouldn’t have been a problem.
Q: At the beginning of an election campaign, don’t you think public moves like your own and the conduct of the Colombo Mayor and Palitha Thevarapperuma demoralises the party rank and file and worsen the UNP’s chances?
A: The Colombo Mayor’s issue and Thevarapperuma’s case are different from mine. I can only comment about my resignation. I am not there as a lamppost that will agree on anything that is shoved on or thrown down upon our Colombo District. I stand by the UNP and my conviction. There are people in other districts who have done nothing and didn’t bother about nominations. Why does your paper prop them up? Why don’t you ask questions about them? I am basically standing firm on a matter of principle. This is to show there is solidarity in Colombo District and for the first time all organisers stood together. Earlier they were saying we were doing things against the interest of all the members; but this was done with concurrence of the members.
Q: What was Ranil Wickremesinghe’s response to your letter?
A: It is an internal matter. Unlike other people I am not trying to gain fame through this. My protest was that the Nomination Board was not equal in their display to the requests that were made by relevant districts. I would like to keep it at that level. I stand firm on what was said. I also projected that people who have done this must meet the ramifications that flow for some unilateral, arbitrary and whimsical decisions that have been taken. We are not convenient whipping boys for everything that is done in the district.
Q: What type of impact will this have on the upcoming elections?
A: With the team which has been forced onto us, we will try to do our best. We will insist that the UNP do well even though whose participate may not. Anything different to that, people who have done this have to pay and hold themselves responsible for the capricious decisions they have made.
Q: There has been speculation for months that you were poised to join the Government. In fact, Basil Rajapaksa is reported to have joked about this in a phone call to the Mayor recently. Any truth to this?
A: You have to ask him (Basil Rajapaksa). He has never spoken to me. I don’t know whether Basil Rajapakse wants to come to the UNP. For the last 16 to 17 elections, the media gets hyper saying I am trying to cross over. I am the only one who has no position in the party. Nobody should take anybody for granted. If Basil Rajapaksa wants to come to this side, it is his choice – but we are not in that league of politics that he thinks we are.
Q: Is there a particular court case or corruption issue that the Government is holding over your head, as is alleged by those who speculate you will cross over?
A: These are spread by my own colleagues. I have had 51 cases against the Government. As I said, we won’t wilt under pressure. If we have skeletons, we won’t be in this game; we would have been in a different league. There are people who say they won’t cross over and later cross over to the other side. That is not the politics I am in. We are here to get this dictatorial regime out. These rumours are spread by our own people, who seem to be stuck beyond a certain point and who think that character assassinating us will help their cause. But I also say that nobody should be taken for granted. The days to come will prove that such hypocritical, self-seeking, running with the hare and hunt with the hound type of politicians are there.
Q: What do you think about Mano Ganeshan’s decision to contest alone in Colombo District?
A: Mano Ganeshan is a politician doing his politics looking at each election. It is the UNP that has paid the price for outsourcing a minority interest. I as an UNPer and as the Colombo District Leader should look at trying to develop what is best for our party. In a multi-religious and multi-racial country, we should not be outsourcing our religious or racial political approach for such parties that only spring up during presidential or general elections. I frankly feel Mano Ganeshan should be a member working inside the UNP.
The UNP has paid the price for working along with Sri Lankan identity in mind and as a result sometimes we have lost elections. It is sad if minorities are insensitive to such. I think the minorities are not racial and chauvinistic as much as these political parties think they are. I hope that sanity prevails with such people who today are paying the price for not electing the UNP in 2005.
If you look at our Sinhala Buddhist vote, we are the party that has done most for the Sinhala Buddhists. Today we have a Government that pay a lip service for this. I guess it is time that all of them think which genuine political party protects all the interests which make up the social fabric of the Sri Lankan identity.
Q: You are a member of the Leadership Council. Do you believe the council has the teeth to act?
A: My honest opinion is that the Leadership Council is far too big in nature. It is like a Mahinda Rajapaksa cabinet. But we still feel that we have embarked on a journey and we are surely winning the confidence of the people. And I hope the people have the confidence in us.
Q: Do you believe you have the qualifications to be the Deputy Leader of the UNP and one day its Leader? If so, why?
A: That it up to the people as well as to the party. Others who have less importance and less significance have gone higher. I don’t think this is impossible. There is no sycophancy or family bandyism; meritocracy should get its place in this party. If you are going to be a pet poodle of a hierarchy to be ascending to positions, that is a sad indictment and the future will tell whether that cause is right or wrong. But I guess for the sake of Sri Lanka the country needs change; a quick change. The dictatorial tendencies that are becoming concreted in the country need to be eradicated at the quickest.
Q: Once again the Government is active about an attempt to table a resolution against Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council to be held in March. Your comments?
A: Look at the way the Government has handled Geneva. Look at the way Minister G.L. Pieris answered the Geneva question. We as true Sri Lankans have been playing a protective role of Sri Lanka. I am also a great believer just like the Government that we should not be bending to anybody. If we are to take that stand, the Government’s past track records should have been clean. Why did the Government respond to Ban Ki-moon and give a promise? Why did they respond to the Indian Prime Minister on three or four occasions and promised beyond the 13th Amendment? Why did the Government respond to the Geneva conference saying LLRC will be our way forward? When the Darusman Report was out, why did Minister G.L. Pieris communicate and say some of the military officials will be tried? These are the ones who led to the opening of international community invading into Sri Lankan internal affairs. Now that they have given a promise and are reiterating LLRC will be implemented to the letter, the Government cannot claim external intrusion broke into local affairs.
Cabinet Ministers in the Government have given information to Navi Pillai. Today that is being used by the UN to castigate the Government. How can Cabinet Ministers give such information and remain in the same Government? If the Government finds that any Cabinet Minister has given such information verbally or in writing, can they be operative within the Government? Instead of pointing fingers at the Opposition, this Government should first point fingers at the Cabinet that has collective responsibility in doing so.
Q: What made you quit the UNP Nomination Board in such a public manner?
A: I am a very loyal UNP member. I have been on many nomination boards. I don’t like the dissimilarity in treatment of five of the districts as opposed to Colombo. Colombo is our hotbed and I am District Leader. My Leader is also the Leader. But the way Colombo was handled was completely different. I think there should have been much more respect paid by the Nomination Board, which was willing to do Galle, Gampaha, Kalutara and Hambantota in a different way to Colombo.
Q: Do you believe there was a point in quitting the board after the nomination process was complete?
A: It was one of the newspapers that made this accusation. I walked out on 3 February, which was the first day this matter came up. The nominations closed on 5 February at 3 p.m. Anybody who is trying to prove that I resigned after the nomination process is only trying to create mischief. I actually don’t want to waste my time commenting on such allegations.
Q: In your letter of resignation you have mentioned that some of the people who were given nominations have not worked for the UNP for even a day. Don’t you think an ailing party like the UNP should select strong candidates who are capable of defeating their opponents and therefore your argument may not have any validity?
A: I am a member who is basically bringing people from the other sides to the UNP. Do you think I am alien to these types of things? Everybody must be known by us. It is a well-known fact that we are very much with the groundswell that is on. I don’t think anybody that we don’t know has come in. Colombo District was very particular about having the best team for this election. All the members with the Leader itself unanimously agreed that we will have the best choice possible. Why is it that the other five districts were given the opportunity to meet the organisers but Colombo was not given? That is my only concern.
Q: Some allege that you agitated because some of these candidates may pose a threat to you in future?
A: It is naïve to even make such allegation. I have 20 years, five times a Parliamentarian. That is good to be said to guys who have basically not even contested elections.
Q: What do you think about the accusations that you resigned because people you promoted were not given nominations?
A: Tell me who I wanted who didn’t get nominations? All of them got nominations. That is a baseless accusation. This is just mudslinging. I resigned because I am trying to do justice for other organisers of Colombo. As the District Leader of Colombo, I am looking at other organisers who wanted their people in. I don’t have any hidden personal agenda behind this. It is the personal agenda of the other people who have done this. There is a lot of animosity and jealousy for Colombo District. Like seasonal vendors, these people come into Colombo only for the election. If each of the members in the Nomination Board did their activity in their areas properly, then there wouldn’t have been a problem.
Q: At the beginning of an election campaign, don’t you think public moves like your own and the conduct of the Colombo Mayor and Palitha Thevarapperuma demoralises the party rank and file and worsen the UNP’s chances?
A: The Colombo Mayor’s issue and Thevarapperuma’s case are different from mine. I can only comment about my resignation. I am not there as a lamppost that will agree on anything that is shoved on or thrown down upon our Colombo District. I stand by the UNP and my conviction. There are people in other districts who have done nothing and didn’t bother about nominations. Why does your paper prop them up? Why don’t you ask questions about them? I am basically standing firm on a matter of principle. This is to show there is solidarity in Colombo District and for the first time all organisers stood together. Earlier they were saying we were doing things against the interest of all the members; but this was done with concurrence of the members.
Q: What was Ranil Wickremesinghe’s response to your letter?
A: It is an internal matter. Unlike other people I am not trying to gain fame through this. My protest was that the Nomination Board was not equal in their display to the requests that were made by relevant districts. I would like to keep it at that level. I stand firm on what was said. I also projected that people who have done this must meet the ramifications that flow for some unilateral, arbitrary and whimsical decisions that have been taken. We are not convenient whipping boys for everything that is done in the district.
Q: What type of impact will this have on the upcoming elections?
A: With the team which has been forced onto us, we will try to do our best. We will insist that the UNP do well even though whose participate may not. Anything different to that, people who have done this have to pay and hold themselves responsible for the capricious decisions they have made.
Q: There has been speculation for months that you were poised to join the Government. In fact, Basil Rajapaksa is reported to have joked about this in a phone call to the Mayor recently. Any truth to this?
A: You have to ask him (Basil Rajapaksa). He has never spoken to me. I don’t know whether Basil Rajapakse wants to come to the UNP. For the last 16 to 17 elections, the media gets hyper saying I am trying to cross over. I am the only one who has no position in the party. Nobody should take anybody for granted. If Basil Rajapaksa wants to come to this side, it is his choice – but we are not in that league of politics that he thinks we are.
Q: Is there a particular court case or corruption issue that the Government is holding over your head, as is alleged by those who speculate you will cross over?
A: These are spread by my own colleagues. I have had 51 cases against the Government. As I said, we won’t wilt under pressure. If we have skeletons, we won’t be in this game; we would have been in a different league. There are people who say they won’t cross over and later cross over to the other side. That is not the politics I am in. We are here to get this dictatorial regime out. These rumours are spread by our own people, who seem to be stuck beyond a certain point and who think that character assassinating us will help their cause. But I also say that nobody should be taken for granted. The days to come will prove that such hypocritical, self-seeking, running with the hare and hunt with the hound type of politicians are there.
Q: What do you think about Mano Ganeshan’s decision to contest alone in Colombo District?
A: Mano Ganeshan is a politician doing his politics looking at each election. It is the UNP that has paid the price for outsourcing a minority interest. I as an UNPer and as the Colombo District Leader should look at trying to develop what is best for our party. In a multi-religious and multi-racial country, we should not be outsourcing our religious or racial political approach for such parties that only spring up during presidential or general elections. I frankly feel Mano Ganeshan should be a member working inside the UNP.
The UNP has paid the price for working along with Sri Lankan identity in mind and as a result sometimes we have lost elections. It is sad if minorities are insensitive to such. I think the minorities are not racial and chauvinistic as much as these political parties think they are. I hope that sanity prevails with such people who today are paying the price for not electing the UNP in 2005.
If you look at our Sinhala Buddhist vote, we are the party that has done most for the Sinhala Buddhists. Today we have a Government that pay a lip service for this. I guess it is time that all of them think which genuine political party protects all the interests which make up the social fabric of the Sri Lankan identity.
Q: You are a member of the Leadership Council. Do you believe the council has the teeth to act?
A: My honest opinion is that the Leadership Council is far too big in nature. It is like a Mahinda Rajapaksa cabinet. But we still feel that we have embarked on a journey and we are surely winning the confidence of the people. And I hope the people have the confidence in us.
Q: Do you believe you have the qualifications to be the Deputy Leader of the UNP and one day its Leader? If so, why?
A: That it up to the people as well as to the party. Others who have less importance and less significance have gone higher. I don’t think this is impossible. There is no sycophancy or family bandyism; meritocracy should get its place in this party. If you are going to be a pet poodle of a hierarchy to be ascending to positions, that is a sad indictment and the future will tell whether that cause is right or wrong. But I guess for the sake of Sri Lanka the country needs change; a quick change. The dictatorial tendencies that are becoming concreted in the country need to be eradicated at the quickest.
Q: Once again the Government is active about an attempt to table a resolution against Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council to be held in March. Your comments?
A: Look at the way the Government has handled Geneva. Look at the way Minister G.L. Pieris answered the Geneva question. We as true Sri Lankans have been playing a protective role of Sri Lanka. I am also a great believer just like the Government that we should not be bending to anybody. If we are to take that stand, the Government’s past track records should have been clean. Why did the Government respond to Ban Ki-moon and give a promise? Why did they respond to the Indian Prime Minister on three or four occasions and promised beyond the 13th Amendment? Why did the Government respond to the Geneva conference saying LLRC will be our way forward? When the Darusman Report was out, why did Minister G.L. Pieris communicate and say some of the military officials will be tried? These are the ones who led to the opening of international community invading into Sri Lankan internal affairs. Now that they have given a promise and are reiterating LLRC will be implemented to the letter, the Government cannot claim external intrusion broke into local affairs.
Cabinet Ministers in the Government have given information to Navi Pillai. Today that is being used by the UN to castigate the Government. How can Cabinet Ministers give such information and remain in the same Government? If the Government finds that any Cabinet Minister has given such information verbally or in writing, can they be operative within the Government? Instead of pointing fingers at the Opposition, this Government should first point fingers at the Cabinet that has collective responsibility in doing so.