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A new era for Rajarata my aim - NCP Chief Minister


 
I intend to give priority to education, agriculture, irrigation and health sectors with more attention toward improving infrastructural facilities in remote difficult village areas. The “grow more maize” concept will continue for another few seasons.

Paddy cultivation will be boosted while encouraging people in Rajarata to give up wheat flour and take to the consumption of rice and rice flour based food varieties.

Chief Minister of North Central Provincial Council Berty Premalal Dissanayake was interviewed by Nimal Wijesinghe Anuradhapura Additional District Group Correspondent.

Question: As you are assuming duties as the North Central Provincial Chief Minister for the consecutive third term would you please tell us about the beginning of your political career ?

Answer: I must sincerely thank the voters in the North Central Province for electing me as the Chief Minister of the Provincial Council with a majority of more than 100,000 preferential votes. I took to active politics under the guidance of late A.M. Jinadasa who was a member of the Parliament in Kekirawa constituency. Being a student I preferred SLFP to all other political parties and always opposed the UNP and its policies.

I decided to be an energetic SLFPer and contribute to gain the political emancipation for SLFP followers.

In 1982 I contested along with the then UNP stalwart A.M.S. Adhikari at Kalawewa elections. As I remember I was not permitted to hold SLFP meetings in any public place in Kalawewa chaired by late Sirimavo Dias Bandaranaike who was the Prime Minister. I managed to clear a shrub jungle in a remote area and organise a propaganda rally.

The then UNP leaders in the area didn’t allow Mrs. Bandaranaike to have lunch at Kalawewa circuit bungalow. She had her lunch on the bank of Kalawewa.

In 1988 on false complaints relating to Kekirawa by election I was in remand prison for four months.

Since we were kept behind bars the UNP won the Kekirawa seat, with a very marginal majority of 300 votes.

I managed to enter Parliament after more than ten years of political struggle in 1989 and bestowed with the ministerial portfolio of social services in the Cabinet.

Later I sacrificed my Cabinet Ministerial post and fought the North Central Provincial Council elections. Having won the same I was appointed as the Chief Minister.

Since then I have been continuing in the chair unbeaten for the third consecutive term.

Q: Would you like to speak about your family?

A: My wife was a Government teacher, when I entered politics. She had been behind me right throughout my arduous political career and the beacon of light in my political career. Leaving me free to do the political affairs she took the burden of moulding my children in to good decent and well disciplined citizens.

My son Duminda who is the Minister of Petroleum Resources holds the records of youngest Parliamentarian, the youngest Deputy Minister and the youngest non Cabinet Minister, comparatively in the world. My pride is my family.

I exceptionally adore my wife and children and the family life and in the same degree love and respect the people in the North Central Province. This is the secret of my victory.

Q: How do you reason out your being elected to the chair of Chief Minister for the third consecutive term amidst so many allegations against you?

A: Sensible voters in the province have rejected all these allegations and charges levelled against me at the elections. At both Parliamentary and provincial elections since 1999 my opponents have been playing this allegation record alleging that I had misappropriated public funds and wasted it by digging 106 ponds. I was nick-named as Pokunu Piya ( Father of ponds).

This is all to sling mud. I introduced and implemented this programme in rural areas where there was a water scarcity.

The majority of the people have endorsed it. I intend to continue this programme during my new term. There was the other allegation that I have been erecting a grand tourist hotel on the banks of Kalawewa tank consisting of 150 rooms having encroached 15 acres from the tank reservation.

I said I am constructing a house in Kalawewa consisting of four bedrooms in a little plot of land legally owned by me for my family and that is the whole truth. People believe me and dismissed this allegation too.

Recently, I made an open invitation to our provincial media to come to Kalawewa and give the true picture of this so-called tourist hotel to the country.

With regard to the misappropriation of funds meant for printing question papers for schools highlighted by the opposition, I was just a candidate at the Provincial Council Elections who didn’t hold any office and extremely powerless. If there had been such corruption the educational authorities should have the burden of responsibility. The voters digested the truth and voted for me. The voters in Rajarata have exonerated me of all mud slinging and false allegations ushering me and the other UPFA candidates in to power without any hesitation.

Q: What are your priorities concerning the development of the province and empowerment of livelihoods of people?

A: I intend to give priority to education, agriculture, irrigation and health sectors with more attention toward improving infrastructural facilities in remote difficult village areas. The “grow more maize” concept will continue for another few seasons.

Paddy cultivation will be boosted while encouraging people in Rajarata to give up wheat flour and take to the consumption of rice and rice flour based food varieties.

Every Pradeshiya Sabha will run a rice flour grinding mill unit and a bakery to produce rice flour based bread and other food items. This facility will be extended to the farmer organisations who are performing efficiently along with other rural welfare and social organizations.

The concept of establishing fruit villages will be boosted and small- scale fruit processing factories will be commissioned. With regard to education every school in the province will be provided with adequate teachers and computer technology as a priority. I have made arrangements to recruit 1,400 graduate teachers within this year as an initiative.

Also top priority will be given to a renal diseases prevention programme to arrest the spread of renal ailments in areas such as Padaviya, Kebithigollewa, Medawachchiya, Polonnaruwa, Medirigiriya, Dimbulagala and Welikanda areas.

My sole intension and objective is to bring about past glory and magnificence to Rajarata in gratitude of people who voted for me and to serve people irrespective of party politics and other differences.

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