Government's Response To JO Protest: Sagala Says "Jana Balaya" Campaign Is A Farce And Damp Squib

September 06, 2018

Project Management, Youth Affairs and Southern Development Minister Sagala Ratnayaka said the "Jana Balaya' protest organized by the Joint Opposition in Colombo, yesterday, ended up as a "damp squib." 

"In fact, the Joint Opposition dug its own political grave by launching this disastrous protest campaign," Ratnayaka said, issuing a statement this afternoon. 

The full statement issued by Ratnayaka is as follows, 

"The protest campaign, organized by the Joint Opposition and the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) in Colombo, yesterday, ended  up as a farce and a damp squib. 

Initially, there were reports that they planned to lay siege to the commercial capital of the country and then they talked about protesting overnight and toppling the government. 

In the end, however, they could not continue their protest at least until midnight and many protesting went back to their villages blaming the organizers for lack of coordination and planning. So, a protest that was aimed at toppling the government finally boomeranged on its organizers, much to the disappointment of the 'Rajapaksa cabal'. Therefore, this is one of the biggest setbacks suffered by the Rajapaksa group in the recent past, and the leaders of the protest became a laughing stock in the eyes of the entire country.

The Rajapaksa cabal first started their meandering by holding a rally in Nugegoda months after the downfall of the previous government. They they moved to Kirulapona, Kandy, Galle Face and several other locations. They described each of these events as the "first salvo" to topple the government. Although several first salvos have been fired so far, nothing has happened to the national unity government or its leaders and they continue to steer the country in the right direction. The firers of these first salvos are still in the opposition, without any prospects of forming a government in the future. 

It is important to understand the reason behind initiating a protest of this nature, at this juncture. It all started when Parliament passed legislation to set up a Special High Court to hear cases of bribery and corruption. Over the first three years of the government, investigations into financial crimes and corruption progressed slowly as the investigators had to overcome many technical and practical difficulties. We repeatedly stated that they would soon overcome those challenges and the perpetrators of financial crimes and corruption would be brought to book. Now, the majority of these investigations have reached their final stages and a special court has been set up to expedite the judicial process. 

This, needless to say, is a major concern for the Rajapaksa cabal as they know the wheels of justice are moving. Their collective conscience is aware that they cannot play hike-and-seek with the law enforcement anymore. So, their last resort was a massive protest campaign to show the world that they were being hunted down for political reasons. It was in this context that the 'Janabalaya' campaign was planned by a group affiliated with Parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa. 

However, little did they realize that they were too late of this sort of tamashas. The public is familiar with their theatrics and cannot be hoodwinked anymore. It is now clear that the Rajapaksas have only hoodwinked  themselves by these disastrous tactics. 

Despite their claims of toppling the government, some of their supporters were seen stranded in the city, without being able to go back home after the protest. It was also revealed that 81 drunk protesters, who were 'knocked out' on the street, were picked up by the 'Suwaseriya' Ambulance service and admitted to hospital. When all this unfolded, the leaders of the Joint Opposition were wining and dining in their plush suites, in some leading hotels, not too far away from the Lake House roundabout. 

None of them were apologetic about the great inconvenience they caused to office workers trying to go back to their loved ones after a long day of work. They were the ones who were relentlessly exploited by a family rule for nearly a decade. In a way, it is naive to expect them to be considerate about the common public, when they do not want to look into the needs of those who marched to Colombo in support of their political campaign. 

The biggest outcome of the 'Janabalaya campaign, in my view, is that it unmasked the top echelons of the Joint Opposition and exposed their real faces to the public. At the same, it reminded the Rajapaksa cabal that 'street protests' or other forms of theatrics cannot save them from the long arm of the law."

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