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Rajitha blasts S.B. for defending Basil

Co-Cabinet Spokesman and Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said yesterday in Colombo that it was wrong for Minister of Social Empowerment and Welfare S. B. Dissanayake to defend former Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa, who had allegedly bribed heads of Local Councils with GI pipes purchased using Divineguma funds prior to the last presidential election.

Dissanayake, addressing a news conference, on Tuesday, claimed that there was nothing unlawful about Basil having used state funds to distribute GI pipes among local government authorities in the run-up to the 2015 presidential election.

Minister Senaratne, responding to questions at the weekly Cabinet Press Briefing at the Information Department said that Dissanayake by justifying what Basil Rajapaksa had done failed to see that it was a blatant violation of election law. "I was present at the meeting where Basil told heads of Local Councils that 60 GI pipes would be given to each of them by the Economic Development Ministry using Divineguma Funds. In return, they would have to use the pipes to display flags and propaganda material in favour of Mahinda. He also told them that they could do whatever they wanted with the pipes after the presidential election was over."

Senaratne recalled he had at that juncture advised Basil not to make such foolish and culpable statements, but his advice had fallen on deaf years.

Pointing out that he did not make use of any of the pipes that were distributed in his electorate, the Minister said he along with Maithripala Sirisena and several others had shortly thereafter crossed over to the Opposition.

"It was a blatant violation of election law. But the Rajapaksa’s did not care, because they were so intoxicated with power that they thought the war had been won purely because of them and they would be in power forever," he noted, adding that sacrifices made by the security forces, police and also civil society which had to undergo immense suffering without hordes of armed guards to protect them had all been conveniently forgotten.