Red Power: While the traditional political parties were in a crisis unable to name a candidate for the forthcoming presidential election, the National People’s Power consisting of 28 organizations including the JVP unanimously selected you as the candidate. Could you elaborate on the environment how you were selected?
Comrade Anura Dissanayaka:
The socio-economic policies that have been followed for the last 71 years have dragged our country towards destruction. As such, the responsibility of rescuing the country and our people from this disastrous situation should be shouldered not only by the JVP but by all of us. It is with this intention that we built the National People’s Power together with progressive, left and democratic organizations. It is not a mere election front. We have to carry on a long term struggle to transform this society. The NPP was built with the intention of rallying all masses that could and should be gathered for this task. Elections are only one instance of this long term political struggle. As such, we make use of elections to achieve the task of rescuing the country from the deep economic-political-social precipice it has been pushed to. In such a situation I was selected as the candidate of the NPP for the forthcoming presidential election.
Red Power: If you win would you be the last executive president of our country?
Comrade Anura Dissanayaka: It would happen definitely. For, the executive presidency in our country has been held by despots as well as jesters and they have exceedingly displayed the destructive nature of the position. Hence, our country need not continue with the post of the executive presidency anymore. Our stand is that the executive presidency should be abolished. However, we’d be able to achieve this only if we win the majority in Parliament after our victory at the presidential election.
What we have experienced is that the side that wins the presidential election would also get the administrative power. One of the main tasks of this administration is to stabilize democracy in the country. Our proposal to abolish the executive presidency is within this function of stabilizing democracy. As such, it is definite that I would be the last executive president of our country.
Red Power: While most of the aspiring candidates sow communalism to collect votes, you, at your inaugural rally, emphasized national unity. Why?
Comrade Anura Dissanayaka: We know there are especially leaders who address various communalisms. There are communalist leaders who address Sinhalese communalism, Tamil communalism and Muslim communalism. Those leaders have sown communalism excessively on this land; created wars and insecurity in the country. As such, what model of leadership does our country need today? Our country doesn’t need a leadership that addresses various communities separately or that addresses from a communal angle. The country needs a leadership that could address everyone. That’s why we can stand straight without any fear. Our stand is that the country could go forward only along the path of national unity.
Red Power: Will the NPP get the support of Tamil and Muslim masses at the forthcoming presidential election? If the political parties that represent these communities support you, what would be the policy frame to accept such support?
Comrade Anura Dissanayaka: We are getting prepared to carry out mammoth political work among the Tamil and Muslim masses. Also,, we are getting very satisfactory responses from them. All communities in our country are aware of the policies followed by the traditional political parties and they have had ample experiences of distress and destruction caused by such policies. The Tamil masses have suffered and experienced the destruction in a protracted war. As such, all communities aspire for a transformation. The Tamil and Muslim masses have shown their eagerness more than ever before for a change. Also, we are prepared to have discussions with the left and progressive movements that represent those communities. As such, we intend to rally all communities within National Unity. Our goal is a society where suspicion and mistrust have been dispensed with and where national unity prevails.
Red Power: Will it be possible for a candidate to win in the first round of the forthcoming presidential election? What do you think would happen?
Comrade Anura Dissanayaka: We have drawn our attention not to the nature of the final result but how we could carry out the campaign and end it victoriously. At the moment we plan to formulate a scheme or program to address the masses within the election campaign. As such, we believe that it is too early to analyze the final result.
Red Power: Can there be a transformation without an alternative programme to take the country forward but merely with a change of individuals?
Comrade Anura Dissanayaka: It cannot be done. For seven decades the people in our country have had the experience and proof that the country cannot be taken forward with a mere change of individuals. We have wasted enough time to understand this truth. As such, what our country needs today is a broad transformation of the socio-economic structure. We have already presented the alternative programme necessary for such a transformation.
In this programme, we, while curing the present economic crisis, especially draw our attention to an economic plan based on development and the masses so that the gains of this expanding economy flow to the masses. Also, we have included means of building national unity so that the suspicion, mistrust, anger and hatred between the Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim masses are wiped out. The programme also includes restoring of the rule of law to quell social crimes that have engulfed our society, build a bright future for our children, an administration where youths can make use of their talents, labour and ability productively. We have also included means where elders can lead contented lives.
Red Power: What would be the base for this programme and how could it be implemented?
Comrade Anura Dissanayaka: We base our programme on the “Let’s build Sri Lanka” programme the National Intellectuals Organization has already formulated and released to the masses. Of course, we have the most developed human resources that could implement this programme. We have the biggest human resources that would mediate with genuine and sincere interest to develop the country without expecting any personal gains. This band of honest men and women will implement the programme and make the future this country and our people brighter.
Red Power: Can the fight to bring prosperity to the country and joy for the people end in victory? Do you think the correct political leadership and a scientific programme alone could achieve this?
Comrade Anura Dissanayaka: We believe that the people in our country expect a change now. As such, a different type of politics is necessary to bring about this political change. This cannot be expected from mere politicians or mere professionals or mere citizens. Especially, there should be incorrupt politics, professionals with a vision to develop the country, masses that could fulfil the great task and the correct programme. We have great trust in the masses and we act according to this trust.