Political parties claim 'Victory' at May Day rallies | Sunday Observer

Political parties claim 'Victory' at May Day rallies

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In the aftermath of the May Day rallies, the UNP, SLFP, Joint Opposition and the JVP made an assessment on the outcome of their rallies and their future political prospects. The UNP said, they hoped to form a UNP Government by year 2020 and added that it is still premature to comment as the National Unity Government has to continue for three more years in office. The SLFP seniors in the Government also said, their intention is to form an SLFP Government in 2020 and that President Maithripala Sirisena would also endorse the SLFP view. Joint Opposition (JO) front liners said the biggest ever crowd attended the JO May Day rally. The JVP seniors said it was only the JVP May Day procession and the rally which symbolised the true meaning of the May Day dedicated to the cause of workers worldwide.

UNP Deputy General Secretary and Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam:

“The UNP had the longest, biggest May Day procession. Starting from the Sugathadasa Stadium, the UNP May Day procession reached Campbell Park where its May Day meeting was held. There is no doubt, the majority of the people were at the UNP’s May Day rally. There was a significant increase in the numbers attending this year’s UNP May Day rally compared to last year. We hope to form a UNP Government by 2020. But so far we have not taken a decision as the National Unity Government has to continue for another three years in office. The Joint Opposition (JO) rally was held at Galle Face Green which is a restricted space, so it was projected as a big crowd. If the UNP too accommodated its total crowd at the May Day procession, we would have filled four grounds the size of Galle Face. Our May Day procession marched forward along huge roads from the Sugathadasa Stadium to Punchi Borella. Three roads had to be closed for that. Despite the challenge by the JO at their May Day rally, the Government has no fear to conduct elections, it will call elections and definitely win them. We have no issues and we will ensure the third consecutive defeat for the Rajapaksas. They couldn’t win the last Presidential Election and with all the attempts they made, they lost the Parliamentary election as well. At the upcoming Local Government elections too, the people would definitely vote for the incumbent Government. We will show how we would win the LG elections.

UPFA General Secretary and Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Minister Mahinda Amaraweera:

“The Getambe rally was one of the most organized and well attended May Day rallies held in the history of the SLFP. The entire city of Kandy was full of people with a six and a half kilometre long, two May Day processions organized by the SLFP. The SLFP organized a May Day procession, but the JO conducted a May Day rally and packed the Galle Face with people. We wouldn’t say the division in the SLFP is good. If these two factions could join hands, it is good for the party. If they are not ready for that, we have no alternative, but to take forward the party. Therefore, if the two factions are separated, we have to face the consequence. If the crisis in the SLFP continues, it would have an impact on the party’s vote base at the LG and Parliamentary elections. We are aware of this and that is why we are still trying our best to unite the two factions. When attempts are made to reach a consensus between the two factions, the SLFP MPs in the JO underestimate it. However, the SLFP has to move forward. The President has no intention to divide the party. If a faction of the SLFP attempts to divide the party, there’s nothing we can do. I think some other parties in the JO want to form a new political party, not the SLFP MPs. The fact is if these two SLFP factions are united, no other political party would be able to win any election. When the SLFP Central Committee meets, a decision will be taken on the SLFP MPs in the JO who didn’t participate in the SLFP May Day rally at Getambe, despite the official invitation extended to them by the party high command. Today, neither the President nor the party seniors take individual decisions. As a party, all decisions are taken by the Central Committee. If some SLFP organizers do not fulfil their duties, but work for some other political party, the SLFP high command has to take a decision regarding them. Actually, all the organizers have became popular after they joined the party.

When I initially joined the SLFP, I too was not well known. Later I gained popularity because of the party. People become popular because of their party, not vice versa. The new organisers we appointed are now becoming popular. Our intention is to form an SLFP Government by 2020. I hope the President would also accept our party’s view. We are trying our best to reach a consensus between the two SLFP factions. The President or any of us has no intention whatsoever to create divisions in the party. If a faction of the SLFP MPs quit and form a new party, it would be advantageous to the UNP.

UPFA Matara District MP Dullas Alahapperuma:

In the history of Sri Lanka, the biggest ever crowd attended the Joint Opposition (JO) May Day rally held at Galle Face Green. This would be recognized in the history of international May days, as one of the most significant May Day rallies held anywhere in the world. Whether the Government will continue or be toppled will be decided by the policy adopted by the Government. The LG elections have been indefinitely postponed for over two years, now. The election is the opportunity given to the people to express their views, as has been stated in the Constitution. The Government has violated the Constitution by not holding the elections. Although a case has been filed in the Supreme Court regarding this, it has not been heard during the last one year and two months. Democracy has been blatantly violated. If this trend continues, I don’t know how society would react. If the Government embraces democracy, some democratic transformation must be made. If the Government attempts to deal with the people in a dictatorial manner, they would also react in the same manner. If the SLFP faction in the Government is ready to reach a consensus with the JO, we are definitely ready for that. We heard the verbal blows launched against Labour Minister W.D.J. Seneviratne by Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne at the UNP May Day rally. Minister Seneviratne is one of the most senior SLFP leaders who is making a genuine effort to unite the two SLFP factions.

A UNP Minister launched a scathing attack against Minister Seneviratne due to his efforts to unite the two factions. The SLFP Ministers should request the President to sack Minister Senaratne from the Cabinet. The SLFP Ministers who attempt to unite the party are attacked by UNP Ministers with abusive language. The issue we have is the opportunity given to the UNP to use the SLFP for their survival. If the two SLFP factions do not reach a compromise, will the JO separately contest the LG and Parliamentary elections is a question asked by the state media, ignoring the fact that the LG elections have been postponed. Knowingly or unknowingly, this would become a tool for the Government to violate democracy.

JVP Gampaha District Parliamentarian Vijitha Herath:


PIX: LAKE HOUSE MEDIA LIBRARY

More supporters attended this year’s JVP rally than in the last year. We were able to conduct the most successful May Day rally. It was only the JVP May Day procession and rally which symbolized the true meaning of May Day. Actually, May Day was declared as International Workers’ Day due to the struggle launched in 1886 to reduce the number of working hours to eight hours a day. In order to meet this demand, the workers brought the white flag of peace. However, the white flag became red from the blood shed by workers due to the massive suppression launched against them. That is how workers’ colour became red. It was only the JVP which celebrated May Day in that perspective. State and private sector trade unions, farmer and fisheries organizations and plantation workers gathered in their large numbers at the JVP May Day rally. At our May Day rally, we took a giant step to stress the need to form an administration to win the rights of future workers. The true sense of a May Day cannot be decided upon by the crowd that attends a May Day rally. The most important fact is the talk and awareness made at May Day rallies to ensure workers’ rights and whether they rallied round to fight for those rights, as well as the benefits they pledged to gain. This should be the criteria to decide the success or failure of a May Day rally. But today, May Day rallies have become a mere struggle for power. Some political parties have used the May Day to show their power. It was the UNP and the SLFP which suppressed the country’s working class. In 1980, then UNP Government shot and killed a worker named Somapala. Thereafter the Rajapaksa Government shot and killed Katunayake Free Trade Zone worker, Roshen Chanaka in 2013. Therefore, both these political parties have no moral right to celebrate workers’ day. At present, both, the SLFP and the UNP use the May Day to show their head count to consolidate their power. The true meaning of international workers’ day is to organize and rally the working class as a force. This task has been fulfilled only by the JVP. We could clearly show the pressure and the amount of problems faced by the working class. The people joined hands with the JVP to extend their support to the struggle launched to win workers’ rights. The bigger crowd at the JVP’s May Day rally is clear proof that many more people are disillusioned with the incumbent Government. Actually, there is no link between the May Day rally and elections. The attempt made to combine these two factors is wrong. But, it is obvious that an anti-government trend is emerging. 

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