Gnanasara Thero likely to win Buddhist Monks’ tussle over National List seat
ECONOMYNEXT – Ultra Right-Wing Buddhist Monk Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thero will be nominated to be in Parliament by a small party called Our Power of People Party (OPPP) his Media spokesman said.
The party which fielded numerous Buddhist Monks did not win enough seats in any electorate they contested but under Sri Lanka’s Proportional Preferential system won enough votes to nominate a single member to the Parliament on the National List.
Eranda K Navaratne the spokesman for the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) Sri Lanka’s best known right-wing Sinhala-Buddhist supremacist organisation said that Gnanasara Thero is the party’s nominee.
The road to a Parliamentary seat, however, is not smooth for Gnanasara who heads the BBS.
BBS is one of the main components of the OPPP.
According to tradition, the National List MPs do not contest individual electoral seats but campaign for the party across the country.
Also if a candidate is defeated, he or she is not nominated for a National List seat.
Gnanasara was nominated to contest in the Kurunegala District but his papers were rejected by officials on technical grounds.
“Then our campaign shifted to tell our voters that we are asking for votes for Gnanasara Thero to be in Parliament on the National List,” Navaratne told EconomyNext.
Videos released by the BBS have shown door-to-door campaigners asking voters to choose their party to send Gnanasara Thero to Parliament.
Navaratne claimed that the Executive Committee of the OPPP agreed that if they win a National List seat Gnanasara would be their nominee.
The other major political Monk in the OPPP, Atureliye Ratana, contested from the Gampaha district but was rejected by voters.
A source close to Gnanasara told EconomyNext that Ratana, an ex-Parliamentarian who has been with several mainstream political parties, had asked Gnanasara to step aside and give him the opportunity to return to the legislature.
Gnanasara, this source said, had turned him down.
Ratana and Gnanasara Theros came together to form the OPPP because they did not have a party to contest the elections, the spokesman said.
Navaratne added that another Monk who is in the National List will take up the appointment in Parliament and cede the position to Gnanasara Thero.
That Monk is likely to be Vitarandeniye Nanda, Navaratne said.
Gnanasara Thero was convicted of contempt of court for berating a Magistrate in a courthouse and threatening Sandhya Eknaligoda, wife of missing journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda.
He was jailed but released on a pardon by President Maithripala Sirisena.
After his release, Gnanasara has urged Buddhist Monks to form their own political front.
However, the leaders of the Buddhist priesthood in Sri Lanka have urged the government to pass laws to ban Monks from active politics and contesting for positions in all legislatures. (Colombo, August 8, 2020)