Jayarathne Herath writes to president and party secretary
Kurunegala District UPFA MP Jayarathne Herath yesterday said that the SLFP should take tangible action to cleanse the party of corrupt elements or face the consequences.
The Kurunegla District organizer alleged that the new rich were making every effort to expand their influence in the party at the expense of those who had served the SLFP faithfully over the years. Asked by the Sunday Island whether he was accusing the UNP of causing trouble in the SLFP, MP Herath emphasized that the issue was essentially internal.
Herath said that the SLFP leadership should investigate what was going on in the party. It would be a grave mistake on part of the leadership to ignore corrupt practices as one day the party could be threatened by those manipulators.
The MP said that he was finding it extremely difficult to continue politics in the Kurunegala District due to unsavory practices of some politicians. Responding to a query as regards his response to the situation in the district, Herath revealed having studied the issue closely he recently complained to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is also the SLFP leader as well as Minister Maithripala Sirisena, General Secretary of the party.
“I placed my complaint before them in writing. Now it is up to them to inquire into my allegation and if necessary order an inquiry without delay,” he said stressing that this couldn’t be an isolated situation. Instead it could affecting the ruling coalition as well as the UNP, he said, expressing confidence that political parties as well as the media would take up this issue.
The MP said that he never faced a similar situation though he was engaged in SLFP politics for 26 years and represented the Kurunegala District for 14 years without a break.
Asked whether he intended to push for the inquiry regardless of consequences, Herath said that he discussed the issue publicly last Thursday (Oct 18) at the 100th year celebrations of Boyagane Maha Vidyalaya at the school premises.
He had his say in the presence of Chief Minister of the North Western Province, Atula Wijesinghe, the MP said. Unfortunately, the media had largely ignored the event, MP Herath said alleging that media was not giving sufficient coverage to important developments.
The SLFPer said that there was no point in raising the issue with Elections Commission Mahinda Deshapriya as it was an internal party matter. He told the public meeting at Boyagane that a MP could be bought over for about Rs 40 million and Provincial Councillor or Local Government member for about Rs 5 to Rs.7.5 mn. The bottom line was that there was a market for members within the party, he said, adding that it could either money or other perks and privileges.
The top SLFP leadership shouldn’t forget that the majority of those now receiving massive benefits did absolutely nothing to help then Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s first campaign for the presidency.
“But today they are firmly in control,” he said, recalling how some of those opposed to Rajapaksa’s candidature planned to attack the residence of a Kurunegala District politician, where Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was staying. The President’s brother, now the all powerful Defence Secretary, was responsible for Kurunegala District at that time, Herath said.
He stressed that the issue shouldn’t be mixed up with political crossovers between major political parties, particularly the UNP and the SLFP. It wasn’t a secret that many MPs had switched allegiance to rival parties for money and various other perks and privileges. Such crossover existed since the times of Dudley and D.S. Senanayake, though we never heard of people’s representatives being brought over by influential persons within the party.
The MP said that recently introduced electoral reforms as well as proposed reforms in Provincial and Parliamentary polls sectors were irrelevant as long as decisions could be influenced by the new rich.
By Shamindra Ferdinando