By Dharisha Bastians (Daily FT)
In a strange falling out, the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) has threatened to take legal action against former President Mahinda Rajapaksa for his statements to the Colombo-based foreign media last week alleging that the hardline group was created by the Opposition and Western Governments to ensure his defeat.
The hardline group has demanded that the former President or his proxies back up the statements with facts and said the group was willing to take action against any individual or organisation, including the media, which attempted to bring the BBS into disrepute.
Addressing a press briefing at the Bodu Bala Sena headquarters in Kirulapone yesterday, the organisation’s CEO Dilantha Withanage said members of the former ruling administration, led by Rajapaksa had been behind anti-Muslim violence in Aluthgama and the controversial Buddhist monk-led mob attack on the Fashion Bug warehouse in Pepiliyana.
Withanage claimed that the Government’s culpability in those attacks was the real reason why no persons were arrested for the crimes.
“Don’t throw stones from glass houses,” the BBS CEO warned the former President. The Bodu Bala Sena endorsed Rajapaksa for President in January 2015, but when he met foreign correspondents at his Wijerama residence last week, the former President claimed the group had been created to isolate his Government from the Muslim community and defeat him electorally
Withanage said the BBS admired the former President for ending the war and hailed the former leader’s “magnetic” personality. But he charged that Rajapaksa was consumed with returning to power and had no real feeling about the problems faced by the people.
“To this day, President Rajapaksa speaks only about his houses, his cars, his family and his security. The Bodu Bala Sena has never represented itself, but the problems faced by the Sinhalese community in the country,” Withanage charged.
When he met foreign correspondents last week, Rajapaksa claimed that the Bodu Bala Sena was “Champika’s creation”, referring to Minister Champika Ranawaka, who defected from his administration to support the opposition candidate at the 2015 election. “He was Champika’s man,” Rajapaksa said, referring to the BBS’ controversial General Secretary Gnanasara Thero. The former Leader said that the BBS General Secretary had gone to a Ranawaka family funeral and claimed that Ranawaka would be President in 2020. Rajapaksa said that the JHU strongman had prevented him from taking action against the BBS in his time.
“That was the mistake. Then Champika was there no. Champika was shouting at the cabinet and making a big fuss. Rajitha also was supporting them. I mean that was the mistake I did, I just listened to them and didn’t do anything,” Rajapaksa told foreign correspondents.
Rajapaksa added that while the BBS was claiming to support him for re-election in 2015, the group was really supporting the UNP. “They wanted to get the Muslim crowd out. They were attacking the Muslims. That was also planned. He (BBS General Secretary Gnansara Thero) was invited to Norway and America,” he said.
Norway had funded the BBS, the former President said, to attack the Muslims.
However, Withanage denied the claims the very next day, telling the BBC that the BBS had fully supported President Rajapaksa’s re-election campaign. “We worked for his victory,” the BBS CEO claimed.
Now, Mustapha refuses to accept delimitation report
… leaves media briefing in a huff
by Maheesha Mudugamuwa
Local government and Provincial Council Minister Faizer Mustapha has refused to accept the final report of the delimitation review committee. His action has fuelled speculation that the local government elections will be delayed further.
Committee Chairman Ashoka Peiris tried to present the report to Minister Mustapha yesterday in Colombo in the presence of the media, but the latter declined to accept it. The delay in the submission of the report has led to the postponement of local government polls.
Minister Mustapha said that he could not accept the report as two of the five committee members had not placed their signatures thereon.
Committee members, Saliya Mathew appointed by the UPFA and Attorney at Law S Misbah appointed by the UNP have not signed the report.
Minister Mustapha lost his temper when Peiris, in answer to a question by a journalist, revealed the political parties the two members who had not signed the report belonged to. He said he did not consider them as party men but members of the committee.
The committee members who had signed the report, Ashoka Peiris, Attorney at Law Upul Kumarapperuma appointed by the JVP and Prof. Balasundaram Pillai appointed by the TNA, were present yesterday.
Minister Mustapaha called on Committee Chairman Peiris to inform the two committee members in writing that it was mandatory for them to sign the report.
Peiris said that there was no such need for informing his committee members of that as the final report was compiled by the five members as a joint exercise.
The minister said that the two members who had not signed the report wanted some more time to peruse the final version of thereof. “This is not a complete report. I cannot accept an incomplete report. My ministry provided the committee with all they asked from us. Our ministry is under pressure to make this delimitation process a success.”
Had a complete report been submitted yesterday, the ministry could have gazetted it next Monday, Minister Mustapha said, adding that he needed to consult legal experts of the ministry to ascertain the legality of the report not signed by two of its members. The minister said that the report had been signed by only three members and it had to be viewed against the provisions of the Local Authorities Elections (Amendment). Act, No. 22 of 2012 to decide whether it was acceptable.
Mustapha said the report could be read within a couple of days but he was not sure whether those who had not signed it would change would endorsed it. “They can abstain from signing the report but then they are legally bound to give reasons for their decision.”