Sri Lanka’s Buddhist nationalist group Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) rallied its hardline base on Sunday, saying they must aim to take democratic control of parliament to protect the community.
The influential chief of BBS, Ven. Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thero, addressing hundreds of monks and followers in Kandy, called on Sri Lanka’s 10,000 Buddhist temples to help win votes for candidates from the Sinhala Buddhist majority.
“We the clergies should aim to create a Sinhala government. We will create a parliament that will be accountable for the country, a parliament that will protect Sinhalese,” said Gnanasara Thero.
He also said the politicians should leave the fight against Islamist extremism to the monks.
“We can talk to them face to face in villages and create the Muslim culture as we want without going for extremism. It’s our responsibility because this is a Sinhalese country. We are the historical owners of this country,” he said.
He said that if the monks could get the support of even 7,000 temples in Sri Lanka for one political front during the elections, and each temple can garner 10,000 votes for that front, there could be a Sinhala government.
He did not say what front this would be and whether it will be from an existing candidate or if he or BBS or any other Buddhist groups would come together to form a new party.
“We have already done our calculations. Everybody now talks about parliament democracy. If the need is to have a democratic parliament, then we monks have to own that,” said Gnanasara Thero.
“If all the monks get together, we can win with the help of robes,” he said to cheers and applause from the crowd.