ECONOMYNEXT – The Buddhist Monk holding the key to the single Parliamentary seat won by the Monks-led Our People’s Power Party (OPPP) has a told a harrowing tale of car chases and destruction of temples to a YouTube interview posted a few days ago.
General Secretary of the OPPP, Vedinigama Wimalatissa Thero told the Truth with Chamuditha YouTube channel that he has been in hiding ever since the results of the election was known.
“I have been sleeping in a different location every night,” he told the interviewer.
Wimalatissa who has been seen previously with a beard is clean-shaven in the video.
Wimalatissa accused unknown parties of hiring Back-hoes to destroy buildings in his temple as well. The temple which he says is in the same premises as the Asgiriya Maha Viharaya was attacked in his absence.
A spokesman for the Bodu Bala Sena said Wimalatissa Thero had been occupying the premises illegally.
Wimalatissa says that “groups supporting Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thero, Athureliye Rathana Thero and the Chairman of the OPPP Saman Perera are looking for me,” he said.
“My vehicle was chased by them in several cars as far as Kalutara one night,” he says.
Meanwhile, the Chief Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya has decided not to appoint anyone to the OPPP’s National Seat because of the current dispute as to who should stake a claim.
Currently, there are two claimants, one is Wimalatissa Thero, who as Secretary to the Party nominated himself in a letter he delivered to the Elections Commission the day after the results were announced.
The other claimant is Party Chairman Perera who says Wimalatissa has been sacked and another Secretary has been appointed and the party has nominated him (Perera) to be the National List MP.
In his letter, Deshapriya says that until the claims are studied and a legal opinion given no appointment can be made.
The OPPP campaign was led by Sinhala supremacist Monk, Gnanasara Thero of the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) who teamed up with the like-minded Athureliye Rathana Thero, with the hope that even if none of their candidates wins, they could still poll enough votes to earn a national list seat. Athureliye Rathana Thero who contested from the Gampaha electorate failed to garner enough votes to win a seat.
Gnanasara Thero, General Secretary of the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) who submitted nominations papers to contest the Kurunegala District at the election was rejected on a technicality.
EconomyNext learns that in the letter, Wimalatissa Thero had stated that he was nominating himself temporarily as both Gnanasara Thero and Athureliye Rathana Thero wanted to be named as the National List representative.
Wimalatissa says that all the parties involved in the OPPP agreed that if a National List seat was won it would go to Gnanasara Thero.
The Monk also revealed that the OPPP was used by the Monks to contest the elections as they could not register a political party.
“We got the party for this purpose. It was a transaction and money changed hands,’” he says.
He admits the Monks paid Saman Perera money to use the OPPP as a vehicle for the numerous groups of Monks who contested under this banner.
The Elections Commission is mandated by law to accept the nominee submitted by the registered General Secretary of the party.
Wimalatissa Thero has said he would step down once the dispute was settled. (Colombo, August 13, 2020)