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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.