|ďI am still a JVP memberĒ
has been rife in political circles that Nandana Gunatillake,
Chairman of the UPFA, and JVP presidential candidate in 1999,
either left the JVP or is planning to do so soon. There have
been rumours of ideological differences and Gunatillake being
offered a cabinet portfolio should he join the SLFP. Chamara
Lakshan spoke with the JVP leader to find out how things stand
with him politically speaking.
ďI also proposed that we should enter in to an alliance
with the SLFP to contest the
local government elections. My argument was that in this way we
could secure power in several local bodies and thereby be able
to do some good work as we did in Tissamaharama.Ē
Somawansa Amarasinghe told the media recently that you had
left the JVP. Letís talk about this to start things off?
There has been an ideological difference within the party since
around August last year. This is normal for a party such as
ours. There is always debate. It is not the case that someone
proposes something and the rest blindly raise their hands to
approve it. There is often a Ďforí and an Ďagainstí whenever
some matter is discussed either in the politburo or in the
central committee. The will of the majority prevails. There were
two issues over which there were sharp differences within the
party in recent times.
What were these issues that matured to the point of ideological
I proposed that just as the party stood behind Mahinda Rajapaksa
during the Presidential election campaign, we should enter the
government and actively engage in overcoming the challenges
faced by the country. This idea was defeated in the central
committee. I brought this matter up several times but each time
my proposal failed to win the support of the majority. I also
proposed that we should enter in to an alliance with the SLFP to
contest the local government elections. My argument was that in
this way we could secure power in several local bodies and
thereby be able to do some good work as we did in Tissamaharama.
Others disagreed. They had the numbers. Since both these
proposals were rejected several times and it became clear that
my views did not enjoy much acceptance in the central committee
and the politburo and since it was not possible to accept and
work according to the decision that were eventually made, I
decided to resign from posts in these bodies.
When did this happen?
This year. February 7, to be exact. I informed the party in
writing about my decision on this day. I didnít think it was
important to make this decision public. Since I remained a
member of the party I didnít think it would be wise to create
any confusion. Even afterwards, as a party member, I tried to
win people over to the view that we should enter the government.
Several discussions were held on this subject. However, I donít
see this bearing any fruit.
What is your decision now?
I havenít changed my position. I am still a member of the party.
I resigned from the positions I held in the party, thatís all. I
am still a member of parliament and am still the Chairman of the
Has there been pressure from within the party for you to resign?
No, I havenít been asked to resign. Even when I resigned from
the positions I held in the party, it was subsequent to a
discussion. There are no moves to ask me to resign or to expel
me from the party. I havenít had any inclination to this effect
so far. Furthermore I donít believe there would be such moves
originating from within the party.
There was talk that you were going to join the government and
accept a cabinet portfolio. What do you have to say about this?
If I wanted something like that I could have done it around the
of April 6, 2004, or else a few weeks later when the JVP
accepted four ministries. At that time the party requested both
me and Wimal Weerawansa to take ministerial positions. We both
Why did you refuse?
There were two reasons. We wanted to set an example for the
lower ranks of the party; we wanted to demonstrate that our
efforts to form the UPFA were not motivated by such objectives.
On the other hand I wanted to be more active in party work. So
we refused to accept these posts. If I really wanted to become a
minister it would have been very easy at that time. So no, I
donít have any ministerial aspirations.
It is rumoured that you have been charged of leaking information
about the party?
I have never ever leaked party secrets. I am not a person like
It is also said that youíve been meeting the President over the
past few days?
Mahinda Rajapaksa became president thanks to the UPFA. I am the
Chairman of that alliance. If I can make a large number of
speeches in support of his candidature, whatís wrong in me
meeting him? I can talk to him anywhere.
Has he invited you to join the government?
No, never. He always wanted the JVP as a party to join the
government. As far as I know even when there was talk about
individuals being asked to join, the President always showed
that he was keen about the JVP joining the government.
Are you at odds with the JVPís position on the national
It is wrong to say that I am opposed to the JVPís position. The
only medicine that can cure this problem is a socialist
revolution. But making a socialist revolution today given the
configuration of forces is no easy task. So we need to look for
some kind of transitional solution.
What do you mean by a transitional solution?
Let me put it briefly. Even as we defeat separatism we should
seek a solution where all citizens can feel that they have a
government that they put in power, a government that is
accountable to them. There is mistrust among Sinhalese and
Tamils due to the erroneous political decisions taken over the
years. Had those in power then decided not to pursue short-term
political profit, but to bring people together, unite them and
create conditions where people can live in harmony with one
another, this would not have happened. Unfortunately, on
numerous occasions communalism has been employed on account of
political expediency. And so, today, there is mistrust. This is
the reality we need to understand.The Tamil people believe that
they have not been treated fairly. We have to go for radical
political reforms to ensure to dispel such notions. I donít
think we can satisfy the Tamil people if this is not done.
Well, the UNP and the SLFP are now discussing ways of obtaining
agreement on key national issues. How do you view these
If there is a genuine will to sort out these differences and
develop practical strategies, it is something that we should
welcome. Whether there is genuine interest or not can be
determined by how they propose to resolve this issue. We are yet
to see this happening.
However, I agree with one thing. We cannot postpone the matter
of finding a solution. We have to be wise enough to seize the
opportunity. The time is ripe to weaken the LTTE and to find a
solution that is sustainable and grounded. I donít know about
political parties, but progressive individuals from all parties
should come together to form a broad national front. If we are
able to form a strong national front in this manner we will be
able to find a solution and move forward.
Somawansa Amerasinghe recently criticised you in our paper. He
said that you had left the JVP. Your comments please?
Yes, he had said that I had left the party. But I have not done
so. I have only given up the posts I held. I am still a member
of the JVP, I have to emphasise this.