Baratha Lakshman was a true politician - Rajitha
Some persons who have been imprisoned for murder are waiting for the return of the Rajapaksas, Health, Nutrition & Indigenous Medicine Minister Dr.Rajitha Senaratne said yesterday.
He was participating in an event to mark the 8th death anniversary commemoration of MP Baratha Lakshman Premachandra in Kolonnawa near the Baratha Lakshman Premachandra statue.
“Its been eight years since Baratha Lakshman Premachandra left us. Baratha was an impressive politician. I met Baratha Lakshman Premachandra when we were members of the Sri Lanka Mahajana Party. When I was the Borella organizer for the Sri Lanka Mahajana Party,Baratha was the Kolonnawa organizer. When he contested first for the Provincial Council election, I addressed his meetings amidst bomb threats. One hundred and eight of our members were killed but we didn’t stop. There were bomb blasts when I was on stage and some of the people who threw these bombs are now in Parliament. Some people left the Sri Lanka Mahajana Party because they couldn’t take the pressure but some of us continued because we carefor the country,” he said.
The Health Minister added that both Baratha Lakshman Premachandra and him contested the 1989 General Election under the United Socialist Alliance ticket. They were targetted by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna.
“Baratha Lakshman Premachandra was a brave man. Later, Sri Lanka Mahajana Party broke up. Then I joined the United National Party (UNP) in 1993. Before I joined the UNP, I met Baratha. We had dinner together. I told him there was no point in promoting one family and that the leftist parties have lost their way. I told him that the UNP has given R.Premadasa a chance to be the President. I told him that the UNP seems to care for the average person and I asked him to join me. Baratha asked me how can I join the UNP. It was impossible for him to join the UNP then. Now things have changed,” the Minister said. Dr.Rajitha Senaratne said that he met Baratha Lakshman Premachandra again only after he decided to support former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to end the war.
“Although they were on two different sides, their friendship remained,” the Minster said.
“By then Baratha was the Adviser (Trade Unions) to President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Since I too was a union leader, he invited me whenever he met the unions. Baratha worked hard for the rights of the workers. We sat together when we prepared budgets. He was always conscious of the role he had to play and what the country wants. He wasn’t in politics for superfluous reasons like many politicians today,” the Minister said.
Minister Senaratne added that Baratha Lakshman Premachandra was a true politician. Although one can easily become an MP or a Minister; being a politician is a much more difficult endeavour.
“One needs to have a political understanding, knowledge, conscience, dedication and above all love and concern for the people. Its really hard to find politicians today. That is why we miss Baratha Lakshman Premachandra more today than before. He could have filled a big vacuum that we see today. He would be now leading our struggle. Until he died, Baratha worked for the poor in his electorate. Both of us thought we would be killed by JVP gunmen. I still can’t believe we survived their attempts. A lot of people who were with us were killed and because we made it, we thought we were invincible. But Baratha was killed. He was not killed by the JVP gunmen. But he was killed by a drug lord.”
“Anyone could hold positions in the Rajapaksa government. At one point Baratha was Mahinda’s righthand man. When Mahinda had no one, Baratha was there for him. But Baratha didn’t get the position he deserved. He was very unhappy towards the end. He didn’t know what to do,” Minister Senaratne added.
The Minister added that Baratha Lakshman Premachandra’s daughter, Hirunika is following in the footsteps of her father.
“The daughter is doing politics with me like the father.I heard that some people booed her on nominations day. Who are these people that booed her. They are our enemies. Mao once said that, when your enemy attacks you, its a sign that your are doing the correct thing. He also said that when your enemy praises you, its a sign that you are on the wrong track. Both of us are being attacked by the enemy. So we are obviously doing something right. I am happy they are booing you (Hirunika), because that’s an indication that you are doing a good job. We must expect these things as politicians. We know whether we are right or not. After coming to power, people like Baratha were not killed on the road. Under our government, journalists like Lasantha were not killed. Cartoonists like Eknelighoda did not disappear. Media institutions are not set on fire. 39 Northern journalists would not be killed.”
The Minister said that the opposition now claims that the government failed to prove who were behind these murders. This is an admission that they killed people and that the government failed to find proof.
“If they didn’t kill, who killed? Were they killed because they wrote against the army? Today politicians are not attacking journalists. Journalists are criticizing the President, the Prime Minister and the government without fear. This is the freedom we created. All Sri Lankans can now live freely. We will ensure that the people do not lose the hardfought freedoms.”
MP Hirunika Premachandra and a number of friends and family were present.