It was you who has shared sorrow and happiness in both the radical political and personal lives of Mahinda Rajapaksa. Did you start on this journey with Mahinda Rajapaksa on a love affair?
No. we got married following a proposal. I was well known those days as Shiranthi Wickremasinghe.Mahinda had seen me and proposed through a relative of us. He was a radical in politics, but not so in personal life.
You know best about the person Mahinda Rajapaksa. What are the special characteristics in the political life of Mahinda Rajapaksa?
I married a lawyer. I was not interested in his politics. But, my husband is a politician. I respect him as my husband. I help him when he needs it. I may not join him at political meetings, but I help him in public welfare work.
How did you face the various clashes in the political life of Mahinda Rajapaksa?
When I was bearing eldest son Namal, he was imprisoned. At that time, my father looked into everything. I was not burdened.
How do you see former president Mahinda Rajapaksa and MP Mahinda Rajapaksa?
I still see him as the president. Anyone can be an MP. But he is in the people’s hearts. I cannot think differently. I do not see any difference.
How does he cope with that change?
Normally, I do not discuss politics with him. He too, is the same. He does not show me any sorrow. I too, do not show him any sorrow. I remain as in the past.
That means, your role is only as his wife?
Yes. The loving wife and the loving mother.
When Mahinda Rajapaksa takes political decisions, he never speaks to you about them?
That is what had gone wrong. I should have been consulted.
Why do you say so?
Had that happened, I would not have allowed him to go for the presidential election. I normally check with his horoscope. That time, I could not do that.
Why was that?
That is, because those around him deceived him. Now, I take care. I will not allow him to be deceived.
Previously, there was talk that Mahinda Rajapaksa’s horoscope was read by an astrologer named Gupta. Did that actually happen?
Not to my knowledge. Normally, I do not believe much about horoscopes. Everything I place before god.
Also, the much talked about astrologer Sumanadasa’s entry occurred without your knowledge?
When he checked the horoscope, Mahinda would tell me this was the best time. By that time, the decision had already been taken. I had no time to go for a second opinion. I would never have allowed him to take such a decision had I been involved. But, on one hand, a bad time that had to occur had happened in that manner. He might have a very bad time. That very bad time was spent thus. But, whatever problems we had, our family did not lose heart. I am not a subject of the government. I am not a government servant. My car, my petrol.
You have studied child psychiatry and childhood education. When was that?
Even before I got married, I engaged in those studies. I completed them after marriage. The sons were small when I got all those educational qualifications. I do everything with those experiences.
There is a belief in society that Mahinda Rajapaksa is opposed to president Maithripala Sirisena. What do you think about that?
There is no such thing. We are sad because those around him were not loyal to Mahinda. But, I am saddest because of what my sons were made to suffer. I will not forgive anyone for that. God will see to that. I will never go to take revenge. Also, what Mahinda does is politics, he does not take revenge from anyone. Our eldest son speaks against taking revenge. Those who take revenge are fools. The uneducated take revenge. The educated do not take revenge.
You are accused over funds in the Siriliya Saviya accounts and also that you had seized a land at Dehiwela allotted for artistes. What have you got to say?
The Dehiwala land was obtained on a 20 year lease. All the documents are there. Nothing of the sort had been done. I helped the poor. I did not help myself. The first lady is useless if she does not help people. Is a single hospital given equipment now? Only the ones I had given are there. Did anyone help hospitals in the past two years? Through Siriliya, all the funds were collected for a hospital for children in Hambantota. Now, that funding has stopped. Some day, when that money is released, I will build that hospital. And, I will hand it over to the government. Our bank accounts do not have others’ money. I inherited enough from my parents. I do not need others’ money. If we had others’ money, we would not have lived like this. Even the present president criticized the activities of the FCID.
What do you think about the FCID?
Those in the FCID only do their job. I feel sorry for them. They are helpless. They themselves say that they feel sorry to question madam and sir, and that they do so under orders. I pity them.
A son of yours was accused over a land at Dehiwala. Who is this grandmother Daisy?
Daisy is my aunt. She did not marry. She has enough property. She wanted to give her property to our three children. She looked after them when I spent time on work at schools. So, she cares for them. She wanted to give her property, and passed them onto Yoshitha. What is wrong in that? She gave because she had them. Now, she is absentminded due to all these problems. She is worried about Yoshitha. What injustice this government has done her? It was a pity. It is bad to do something against someone in his youth. As parents, we gave our children a good education and did not teach them to be cruel. I am worried if they will become cruel due to what this government had done to them. That is a big worry.
What did Yoshitha tell you after that incident?
Yoshitha does not talk to me about that because he thinks I will feel sad.
JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake once told a media briefing that Shiranthi Rajapaksa was not arrested or legal action not taken against her despite the presence of many charges because there is a deal between the UNP and the Rajapaksa family? What is this deal?
How can I strike deals without doing politics? I do not have time at least to watch TV. I have enough work. I arrive at school in the morning and leave around 3.00 in the afternoon. Thereafter, I have enough work to do at home. I help my husband in his politics. I will help him even if he comes from a different party. My party is my husband’s party.
Once you were summoned to the FCID. There were pictures of you leaving home. But, you did not give the statement at the FCID. Where did that happen?
I cannot say that.
Did you give a statement?
I scolded them strongly. I have done nothing wrong. I produced all the documents through my accountant. I am not guilty of anything, and why should I answer? I scolded them and left. I did not go alone. My son Namal is a lawyer. I took him and two senior lawyers with me. They would have checked if anything was mentioned wrong, or if there were defects. Had I signed anything with defects, I would have admitted guilt.
Did that meeting take place at the speaker’s official residence?
I do not remember where. I went twice. The FCID did not want to question me. Two or three of them said, “Madam gave a wheelchair for my mother…Madam gave a lens for my mother. How can we question you?”
President Maithripala Sirisena once told the cabinet that he had a lot of information about the Rajapaksa family, but that he would not resort to strong action against Mahinda Rajapaksa and Shiranthi Rajapaksa. Do you accept that?
How can he take action against us? He did everything in the health ministry with me. He knows what I have done. I showed him all the equipment I brought before giving them away. But, the credit went to them. I did a favour for the government. Therefore, he cannot say anything wrong about me. He will not say either. How can he? He knows everything I did.
What do you think about your three children, as their mother?
Namal is a lawyer. He is in politics. All these are a good experience for him. The youngest is like a professor. He is not into politics much. He has his own line. I will never forget what has happened to Yoshitha.
But, they face various accusations. There is talk that you scolded Namal severely for having accompanied an actress in the Jana Satana march. Can you answer these?
I can answer. I have never scolded them. Ask the children. At their age, they should have girlfriends. Girls should have boyfriends. We know about those things. I will never tell them to marry this girl or marry that girl. Even if a girl comes to our home, I talk to them courteously. I have not yet been told by any of the three about their marriages. I will never insist them. They are intelligent children. I have never raised my hands against them.
What does Mahinda Rajapaksa think about the children?
He too, is like that. He looks at the children with an open mind. He jokes with them. What he too, says is to make a good choice when marrying.
Even today, there are people with Mahinda Rajapaksa. Do you belief that they show him the correct way?
Basically, yes. Now there are loyal people with him.
How many of those who had been with him in the past remain with him now?
It seems that everyone who matters is there with him. People want him. They remain so.
Some allege that Mahinda Rajapaksa has to work according to the agendas of others. Do you believe so yourself?
No. I don’t think so. I do not go to them when they discuss matters. He has a brain. He will work wisely. Now, his times are not bad. The bad times are over.
Do you believe that Mahinda Rajapaksa will form a new party?
Let’s see then. May be, everything will work out OK. His father worked with Mr. Bandaranaike to form the SLFP. He had many opportunities to leave the SLFP. But, he did not do that. He loves the SLFP very much.
(Pictures by AS)