Citizenship canard won’t hinder Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s victory – Basil

Basil Rajapaksa

Gotabaya Rajapaksa Campaign leader Basil Rajapaksa yesterday told the final media briefing at Kingsbury, Colombo, that there was absolutely no issue as regards SLPP presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka citizenship.

SLPP strategist Basil Rajapaksa explained the circumstances under which the Election Commission (EC) accepted Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s nominations on Oct 07, 2019.

The EC consists of Mahinda Deshapriya (Chairman), Anil Abeysekera, PC and Ratnajeevan Hoole.

Assuring that the SLPP wouldn’t cause difficulties to the EC, former Minister Basil Rajapaksa said that his party was satisfied the way the EC addressed the issue.

Basil Rajapaksa said so in response to The Island query as to why the SLPP didn’t vigorously take up the issue with the EC against the backdrop of New Democratic Front (NDF) undermining Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s candidature over the claim of him still being a US citizen.

The Island asked whether the SLPP sort of neglected its responsibility by not properly countering stepped-up attacks on their candidature. Responding to query as to why the SLPP delayed requesting the EC to set the record straight, Rajapaksa said that the EC lacked the authority to issue a statement in that regard.

Basil Rajapaksa revealed that there had been opposition to the candidature of Gotabaya Rajapaksa from within the EC though his nominations were accepted. The former Economic Affairs Minister pointed out that the Court of Appeal rejected a move made against the SLPP candidate.

Responding to another query from the electronic media, Rajapaksa said that the electorate would respond to accusations directed at the SLPP candidate on Saturday.

He emphasized that regardless of the UNP seeking to exploit the citizenship canard to its advantage, the SLPP candidate would comfortably win the presidential poll. Basil Rajapaksa estimated that the former Secretary, Ministry of Defence could easily win as many as 120 electorates out of 160 and was also confident of bagging seven out of nine provinces.

At the onset of the briefing, Basil Rajapaksa said that 2019 presidential poll was the first occasion the incumbent President, Prime Minister or the Opposition Leader weren’t in the fray. Rajapaksa thanked President Maithripala Sirisena for extending the SLFP’s support though he wasn’t personally involved in the campaign. The former SLFP National Organizer said that unlike on previous occasions, they were able to sharply restrict the using of polythene and posters as well.

Referring to his recent three-day visit to the Eastern Province, Basil Rajapaksa said that the Eastern region was sharply divided on religious lines. According to him, the Pohottuwa had been able to consolidate its position in the Eastern region. Basil Rajapaksa said that Sajith Premadasa would suffer the worst ever defeat experienced by a candidate fielded by the UNP or a coalition-led by the UNP.

He acknowledged that he couldn’t enter parliament in terms of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. The former minister said that he was not concerned about being deprived of an opportunity to enter parliament. Basil Rajapaksa said that the Rajapaksas had the strength to overcome mudslinging campaigns at any level.

Basil Rajapaksa ruled out imposition of stricter laws to curb social media in spite of some of them being engaged in propaganda campaigns against their presidential candidate. Basil Rajapaksa said that they didn’t believe in the prohibition of social media under any circumstances.

The media raised a spate of allegations, including a bribe of USD 5 mn leveled against former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to facilitate the ‘Shangri-La transaction,’ as alleged by Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka and former monitoring MP of the Foreign Ministry Sajin Vas Gunawardena. Basil Rajapaksa denied the accusations. The former minister claimed that some of those who had been under fire over various accusations were now on the NDF stage.

Asked how the SLPP hoped to proceed following the Saturday’s poll as whatever the outcome with incumbent PM Ranil Wickremesinghe continuing to be in the same office, Basil Rajapaksa said that Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s manifesto dealt with that issue. The SLPP candidate’s victory at the presidential would be considered a mandate for early parliamentary elections.

(Source: The Island – By Shamindra Ferdinando)