The UPFA Government headed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa and with rapid progress achieved under the Mahinda Chinthana has today strengthened its power with the massive support from the people. It has been strengthened to such a degree there seems to be no opposition in the South now, Media Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena says.
Excerpts of the Interview:
Q: It is only a few days more for the Southern Provincial Council Elections and how would you predict the results?
A: I am confident that the UPFA would secure a tremendous victory in all three provinces of the South Matara, Galle and Hambantota. There is no doubt about it.
We target an overall majority of 500,000 votes from the province.
Q: How would you view the statements by some Ministers that the Government is seeking a special mandate from the people in the South at this Provincial Council election?
A: We have a firm belief that the Southerners are much more rooted with the Government compared to other provinces. At the 2005 Presidential Election they voted Mahinda Rajapaksa into power with a majority of 300,000 votes with a conviction that he would liberate this country from terrorism. So he has fulfilled the promise.
In return all southerners respect this great leader.
Q: What would the results of this election convey to the International Community?
A: We can show the whole world that the people are ready to extend co-operation to their leader even after four years since he was elected to office.
Popularity of political leaders fades gradually after sometime but it is not so with President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
He is gaining more popularity with his victory at the war.
However, there is a conspiration against him and the Government at international level. The hopes of those countries who supported the LTTE at the war were thrashed with the defeat of the LTTE. So these countries are trying out various ways to destabilize this country.
That is the reason why they are crying over human rights violations and want to convict us in international war tribunals. However, at the Southern Provincial Council election, people would show the conspirators that people are with the Government.
Q: There is an allegation by the Opposition that UPFA candidates are indisciplined and misbehaving. Is there any truth in it?
A: I totally reject that allegation, there may be some personal problems among certain candidates mainly due to this manapa system of voting but solutions to such incidents have been found under direct intervention of the President.
Q: How do you judge the election campaign of the Opposition?
A: Their election campaign in the South is almost negative and inactive. We had people over 40,000 attending a UPFA rally in Hakmana recently and at every electorate the UPFA candidates are in a strong position with mass support. On the other hand the Opposition is now in a pathetic condition.
A newspaper had stated that there is no visible development taking place in the south quoting a former powerful Minister who is now with the opposition.
Within the past three months we have invited all media organizations to the south to show them the development activities and they well know about the real situation. Now 60 per cent of work in the Hambantota International Harbour has been completed and 550 metres of its break water has been completed.
Highway projects, roads, administrative units, auditoriums, water supply projects are taking place in the Hambantota district which had been considered the least developed district in the south earlier. In the Matara District, a major road network has completed and 40 percent of work on the new hospital at Kotawila is nearing completion. The Hakmana new town development project was recently inaugurated by the President.
The development strategy now taking place in Deniyaya and Dikwella under the Gama Neguma and Maga Neguma programs is noteworthy.
Speedy development is now taking place and one should view its results without prejudices, free from petty political agendas.
Security welfare and development are the key areas which no other Government elected to power could accomplish simultaneously.