Leftist nationalist Vasudeva Nanayakkara interestingly claims that it is not only Sinhala Buddhist but also someone from the Govigama caste has the potential to win the presidential election.
In an interview with a social media outlet the ripe politician brings in caste when the interviewer asks him if only a Sinhala Buddhist can win the presidency.
“Sinhala Buddhsit Govigama,” he answers and immediately states that the caste system was seen to be broken with President R Premadasa being elected.
80 years old Nanayakkara who is the leader of the Democratic Left Front and a Joint Opposition stalwart supporting the Gotabaya Rajapaksa presidency said that a Sinhala-Buddhist-Govigama leadership is still what the leadership line up looks to be although this norm was broken with the appointment of Ranasinghe Premadasa as President.
But he goes on to say that President Premadasa became the president at that time mainly due to the necessity with the circumstances that existed then due to the JVP insurrection and was heavily opposed by the high caste members of the party at that time.
“Currently it is a Sinhala-Buddhist-Govigama person that can win the leadership of the country. The mentality of this country was that only a Sinhala-Buddhist-Govigama person can be selected as the President of this country. However, that was broken with the appointment of President Ranasinghe Premadasa we came out of feudalism. We should see how we can improve this even further,” Nanayakkara said.
While acknowledging that the cast system is broken to a certain extent in Colombo it is not so the case in the North, East and South where it prevails strongly.
It was pointed out by him that similar to what Sajith Premadasa is facing today there was heavy objection within the hierarchy of the party and the so-called high classed people for Ranasinghe Premadasa to run for Presidency.
Commenting on how much of an impact the National Suit had on a candidate’s ability to attract votes he went on to say that it does have an impact is given it represents the identity of the people. He further stated that although people do not tend to personally adopt this they would prefer their national identity being portrayed through their leader in such ways.
A political commentator analysing the interview showed Colombo telegraph the interesting trends on what the people look for, according to the interview, in their leader is at a contrast between the SLPP candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa who does not wear the national suit and the UNP candidacy hopeful Sajith Premadasa who does not hail from the Govigama caste but from a much lower caste.
When asked if the country needs a Sinhala Buddhist leader he goes on to say that we don’t need a Sinhala Buddhist leadership but a Sri Lankan leader, who is acceptable by all races in the country.
“However, in an election the Sinhala Buddhist, given its majority, it is difficult to build up a leadership without pre conditions of the Sinhala Buddhists. Therefore, without the influence of the Sinhala Buddhist elements it is difficult to bring a leader that is accepted by the whole country,” he said.
Commenting on an array of questions the senior parliamentarian went on to say that this country should not be owned by the Sinhala Buddhist but is mainly influenced by its culture purely on their dominance.
“Since this is a country where the majority is Sinhala Buddhist and since its culture has built upon it we should understand that the country has adopted these cultural norms, however, we should not claim that this country is owned by the Sinhala Buddhists due to this reason,” he said.
Nanayakkara who was known for his opposition for naming Gotabaya Rajapaksa as the Presidential candidate of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) camp went on to say that his critical line of Gotabaya Rajapaksa changed after discussions with him.
“At the moment Gotabaya has gained a lot of momentum within the camp and out of it as well. After having a discussion with him and with our camp deciding to select him as the presidential candidate I had to change my opinion of him. On the first day of discussion, I told him that we oppose his military-style also the commanding effect he has. He then agreed to state that it came with his military background in the military for 20 years and agreed to change to suit a politician in this new role”, Nanayakkara said.
When asked if Gotabaya Rajapaksa will be a dictator he said that it is not the case now however it was before. “His military-style means a dictatorial leadership and we cannot accept that in a democratic framework,”.
However, he acknowledged that their camp has already decided that the Prime Minister will be Mahinda Rajapaksa. He also went on to say that the leader of this coalition will remain to be Mahinda Rajapaksa, although it has always been the President who was elected as the leader this the time it will not be the case.
Throughout the interview, he takes the line that although Gotabaya Rajapaksa is the Presidential candidate it is the Opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa who is considered the real leader in the camp. (By Anuruddha Singgapuli)
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