06 July 2015
‘We have nothing to gain by helping any other country to become a threat to India,’ former Sri Lanka president Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is on the comeback trail, has said.
Rajapaksa, who lost the Sri Lankan presidency earlier this year, plans to contest the parliamentary election and likely become prime minister has made the observation during an interview with the Rediff news agency.
Will you be a prime ministerial candidate in the upcoming parliamentary elections? If yes, will you be the SLFP candidate?
I will be contesting the parliamentary election with a view to forming the next government. The United People’s Freedom Alliance has extended an invitation to me to contest on their ticket which I and the constituent parties of the UPFA along with the majority of the former SLFP (Sri Lanka Freedom Party) parliamentary group have decided to accept.
We contested the 1994 parliamentary election as the People’s Alliance. Ten years later, for the 2004 parliamentary election, we reconstituted our alliance as the UPFA. It was being discussed whether a new alliance should be formed to contest the forthcoming parliamentary election but that will not be necessary now that everyone has made the decision to contest under the UPFA banner.
I have been a loyal member of the SLFP from the inception of my political career.
How do you assess your support in the country?
The most visible political phenomenon after the presidential election of January this year is the groundswell of support that has built up for me in the country. There have been unprecedented crowds at any event attended by me or held on my behalf.
The large number of politicians at all levels of government supporting me have done their own assessments and they know that the people are with me.
In many ways this support is now more obvious than it was in 2005 and 2010 when I won the presidential elections.
How is your relationship with President Sirisena? Have you mended your differences with him?
The fact that politicians contest against one another does not mean that they have to be enemies. I contested against Mr Ranil Wickremesinghe in 2005 and I won. But I never regarded Mr Wickremesinghe as an enemy.
I have always maintained cordial relations with the Opposition which is why so many Opposition politicians ended up joining my government.
As for President Sirisena, I maintained good relations with him during and after the presidential election.