Duminda Nagamuwa was the common candidate of the Left parties at the concluded presidential election on January 8 this year. He is in the election fray at this general election too representing his party – Frontline Socialist Party (FLSP). He is the group leader of the Kalutara District. In an exclusive interview with The Nation, he opined that they do not see any change in the way the so called “good governance” regime operates compared to that of the former government of Mahinda Rajapaksa. He pointed out that the change which the people voted for, never became a reality and it will enter into political history books as another ‘election gimmick’ by power greedy politicians.
Q: This is the first general election the FLSP is contesting. What strategies have the party planned for the forthcoming elections? How has the FLSP organized the election campaign?
A: Yes, this is the first general election we are contesting for. Last Presidential election was the first ever election we faced after the break away from the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP). Our slogan for the campaign is “Earlier it was families, now it is cliques; Country is in a mess and True Left for a real change. (“Eda pawul, meda hawul, ratama awul-sabaa wenasak wame balayak)
We have organized nearly 20 rallies island-wide. The party has also planned public meetings, discussions and we will be using street dramas as well. Social media will be used for this election to take our ideology to the general public. FLSP intends to make use of all the methods to an effective election campaign in order to make the general public aware of the party’s ideology.
Q: What are the criteria used when selecting candidates for the election from your party? Was there a particular way to pick them?
A: Our party is still a baby compared to other parties. However, priority is given to those who are capable of representing party’s ideology and principles. Also members who can set an alternative leftist example, persons who have leadership qualities and those who took part in social conflicts/revolutions which can actually make a difference are the main criteria we adopted.
Q: Who will be the main focus of your campaign? Will it be limited to Sinhalese voters or do you intend to target other communities as well?
A: We are among the four parties who gave nominations for all 22 electoral districts and we operate island-wide. FLSP expects to work for the betterment of people be it Muslim, Tamil or Sinhalese. In our country the parties are formed either on the basis Sinhala, Tamil parties or leftist. At the moment the country is in need of a party which can bring fitting solution to prevent issues like racial conflicts occurring. So we aim to achieve that goal.
Q: Former Parliamentarian Ajith Kumara represented your party in the Parliament. Is he still with the FLSP? Will he be contesting for the upcoming elections?
A: Yes, he is contesting for the election from the Galle district. There is no argument that he did a commendable job while he was holding the Parliamentary seat. Being the only representative from our party he was able to bring some of the crucial issues to the notice of Parliament.
Q: So, what do the FLSP suggest to overcome the issues faced by the society today?
A: FLSP firmly believes in a system where the decision making is done by giving the paramount concern to the wishes of the public. The citizens should be involved in almost all the issues since ultimately such decisions will affect their lives. But what is happening in the society is that usually people elect a representative to make decisions and take actions on behalf of them. What we believe is that the general public should be able to take part in daily political, economic, social decisions. However, reforms have to be made for it to be a balanced and a fair system.
We believe that opinions of the public should have been consulted when drafting the constitutions as well. As a result economic inequality will reduce gradually.
Q: The President Sirisena on Tuesday (14) made a special statement and it was criticized by some. What is your take on that?
A: Well, yes we too believe that President Maithripala Sirisena’s statement depicted negative as well as certain surprising aspects. But it is now clear that he cannot do what he wants and we witnessed it during the last six months. So how can you expect someone like that to solve people’s issues?
Q: Some express the idea that JVP will have a fair chance of attracting considerable amount of voters as a result of unsatisfactory conduct of the two major political parties in the country. Your thoughts on that?
A: The JVP is neither here nor there. They indirectly supported President Sirisena but now after six months they have started criticizing him, forgetting that they too supported him to bring him into power. They no longer follow ideology of leftist movement. They clearly don’t have solid principles and have not stood by their principles.
Q: Is there a message you would like to convey to all voters?
A: FLSP would like to request the public to use their vote for a party which will not disappoint them as happened before.
We all know how people suffered under the former rule and they voted for a change on January 8. But still the change they anticipated never materialized. We need a change. The UPFA nor UNP can bring a substantial change to the country. The principles have to be changed. It’s the same play with different actors. Only the faces get replaced.
Our policies don’t change from one election to another and we are planning to do a ‘real’ change in the society. FLSP promises a change in the country so we genuinely hope that the public will use their vote wisely elect a party who has the potential to do that.