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(AFP)

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has dismissed allegations made by former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga in her recent interview with The Hindu newspaper that his government had been a ‘police state’.

Issuing a strongly worded statement titled ‘For the Special Attention of all SLFP and UPFA voters,’ Rajapaksa called on Kumaratunga not to allow her personal hatred of him to blind her and added that she owed it to members of her own Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) ‘not to go around the world insulting and running down her own party’.

“Throughout the interview with The Hindu, Mrs Kumaratunga expressed her elation and glee at being able to defeat the SLFP led UPFA government of which I was the president and she dwelt garrulously on her own role in the conspiracy. No Indian would ever see a former leader (or a Central Committee member or Patron) of the Congress Party or The BJP expressing joy at the defeat of his or her own political party in that manner,” Rajapaksa further said in his statement.

Rajapaksa also lashed out at ‘positively insulting’ comments made by Kumaratunga regarding her own party citing her remarks that she faced difficulties in looking around for an SLFP front ranker to contest against him because “it was difficult to find anyone in the SLFP who wasn’t known to be corrupt or a murderer”.

“When the co-Patron and a sitting Central Committee member of the SLFP tells the foreign media that members of her own party are virtually all rogues or murderers, that reflects very badly on our party. There are ministers in the present government who still consider themselves to be members of the SLFP. How can these SLFP ministers face their UNP colleagues in the cabinet when their own party Patron and CC member goes around the world referring to them as rogues and murderers?” Rajapaksa asked.

Commenting on the use of Viber to prevent calls being monitored, Rajapaksa insisted his government had never monitored calls.

Full Statement

It is with much regret that I read certain comments made by former president Chandrika Kumaratunga to The Hindu newspaper in India a few days ago. All I can do in the present circumstances is to tell Mrs. Kumaratunga not to allow her personal hatred for me to blind her and that she owes it to our members not to go around the world insulting and running down her own party.

It is with much regret that I read certain comments made by former president Chandrika Kumaratunga to The Hindu newspaper in India a few days ago. Mrs Kumaratunga is a former leader of the SLFP and a current member of the Central Committee and co-Patron of our party and whatever she tells the foreign media while on overseas trips, reflects on our party and our country. Throughout the interview with The Hindu, Mrs Kumaratunga expressed her elation and glee at being able to defeat the SLFP led UPFA government of which I was the president and she dwelt garrulously on her own role in the conspiracy. No Indian would ever see a former leader (or a Central Committee member or Patron) of the Congress Party or The BJP expressing joy at the defeat of his or her own political party in that manner.

While that alone would be cause for much shame and embarrassment for all members of the SLFP and the UPFA, some of the things that she said about our party are positively insulting. She had told The Hindu that she had difficulties in looking around for an SLFP front ranker to contest against me because “it was difficult to find anyone in the SLFP who wasn’t known to be corrupt or a murderer”. When the co-Patron and a sitting Central Committee member of the SLFP tells the foreign media that members of her own party are virtually all rogues or murderers, that reflects very badly on our party. There are ministers in the present government who still consider themselves to be members of the SLFP. How can these SLFP ministers face their UNP colleagues in the cabinet when their own party Patron and CC member goes around the world referring to them as rogues and murderers?

Besides, almost all the SLFP stalwarts Mrs Kumaratunga refers to were MPs and ministers in her government as well. I took over the party that she left behind. So her statement to The Hindu amounts to an admission that she too presided over a party full of murderers and rogues. The irony is that though no charge of wrongdoing has been proven against the SLFP members Mrs Kumaratunga hurls accusations at, she herself has been found guilty of an irregular land deal by the Supreme Court. There are many serious allegations of similar nature against Mrs Kumaratunga. There were times she had to reverse certain actions due to public outrage. Whether such a person has the moral standing to go around the world, accusing prominent members of the SLFP of being corrupt is a matter for the people to decide.

In this interview with The Hindu, Mrs Kumaratunga has also said that the SLFP led UPFA government of 2005-2015 was ‘a police state’ and that the conspiracy to overthrow the SLFP led government was hatched using a special software called Viber to prevent their calls from being monitored. My government never monitored any phone calls. If we did, the same equipment would now be available to the present government. Such equipment cannot be bought or operated privately. Once again, it is incongruous for Mrs Kumaratunga to be talking of a police state because she ran one of the most repressive governments in living memory. Members of her presidential security division were convicted by the courts for harassing and terrorising artistes Rookantha Gunatilleke and Chandralekha Perera in the presence of their own children. The doings of underworld figures like Beddagane Sanjiva who were prominent members of her security unit have been extensively reported on by the press. Mrs Kumaratunga’s transgressions in this regard are too numerous to recount here.

When I took over from Mrs Kumaratunga in 2005, there was a separate state in this country in all but name. Terrorists were ruling about a third of the country. For more than a decade, the country had seen very little development. During my tenure, I am proud to say that I concentrated on solving the country’s problems. I saw to it that terrorism was eliminated and that the country was developed. I did not spend my time persecuting my political opponents or go around the world maligning my own party and bringing disgrace upon my country. All members of the SLFP should be mindful that Mrs Kumaratunga’s statements about our party only goes to strengthen our opponents at our expense. We should be working to strengthen our party not to weaken it further.

Mrs Kumaratunga broke away from the SLFP in the 1980s and went against the party and her own mother but I stood by Mrs Sirimavo Bandaranaike and protected the party. Mrs Kumaratunga also worked against the SLFP and the UPFA at the presidential elections of 2005, 2010 and 2015. At the last parliamentary election, even though many people wanted me to contest from another party, I thought of the party and did not abandon the SLFP, but Mrs Kumaratunga publicly asked voters to vote against the SLFP/UPFA and for the elephant. All I can do in the present circumstances is to tell Mrs Kumaratunga not to allow her personal hatred for me to blind her to the fact that she is a former leader of the party and co-Patron and sitting Central Committee of the SLFP and that she owes it to our members not to go around the world insulting and running down her own party.

Mahinda Rajapaksa