President Mahinda Raajapaksa said he is happy to go before the people anytime. Replying to a question if he regretted the decision to call a snap election, the President said, ‘Not not at all, I am very happy to go before the people any time…This is the democratic principle.”
Speaking to newspaper editors and media heads this morning (December 5) at the Temple Trees, he said although Mr Maithripala is the opposition candidate, his real opponent is former President, Chandrika Kumaratunga. “The contest is between me and the Chandrika-Mangala alliance. Ranil is in the sidelines. But I think Ranil would have been the best candidate for the opposition. Maithripala is a nonentity in this. All I can do is to wish him well”.
“This is the third time Chandrika is campaigning against me. She did so in 2005 and 2010 too. Today she is showing hatred in her speech,” he said.
Asked if he would wait for the end of his 6 year term to take oaths for a third term if he wins the election, President Rajapaksa said he would take oaths on November 19, 2015. “I will lose one year, just as I lost one year in my first term”.
When a media person referred to fears of revenge against opponents after the election, he dismissed the need for such fears and said, “The employees recruited by President Kumaratunga at the Temple Trees are still continuing. Even the person who served tea to you is one recruited by Chandrika. Two of her secretaries - Mr Balapatabendi and Mr Karunaratne remained ambassadors after I came to office. I did not recall either of them”.
The President also dismissed the charge made by the opposition candidate that senior SLFP members have been sidelined. “Prime Minister Jayaratne, Senior Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake and myself are the senior most. Other seniors are here, such as Mr Nimal Siripala de Silva. We have not sidelined any of them. I was harassed for years, but I did not leave the party. But I have seen many conspiracies and defections. Several general secretaries left the party, one died, one became a monk. Some others came back. Both the son and daughter of the party’s founder left the party and came back later. We have not done and will never do the wrongs done by the son and daughter. I remained with the party despite all harassment”.
I have the fullest confidence in my Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament, he said when asked if he foresaw any more defections. “When I became the leader there were only 57 SLFP MPs. Now we have 127,” he said.
He cautioned the people about ulterior motives of his opponents. “One leader signed a Norway backed agreement with the LTTE. Another produced the post-tsunami PTOMS. These were against the country and the people. Those who live in glass houses should remember not to throw stones”.
At the beginning of the meeting President Rajapaksa requested the gathering to observe a brief silence as a mark of respect to three journalists, Mr Karunadasa Suriyaarachchi, Mr Mahinda Abeysundara and Mr Sujeewa Dissanayake who had attended these meetings earlier, but passed away recently.