JO protestors hoot at SLFP HQ | Sunday Observer

JO protestors hoot at SLFP HQ

Though the Joint Opposition is made up of leaders and supporters representing various parties it is undeniable that the majority of its strength is still pumped in by Rajapaksa loyalists of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) of which Rajapaksa continues to be a member. Therefore, to many bystanders it was a shocking state of affairs when seemingly inebriated supporters of the JO hooted while walking past the SLFP Office located on Darley Road while screaming out obscenities against the party. This was in spite of the fact that many Sri Lanka Freedom Party unions such as the Sri Lanka Nidahas Sevaka Sangamaya and the Nidahas Kala Kavaya joining the protest march to voice their support to the cause.

But as the protest march descended to chaos with those attending being left to roam aimlessly at the Lake House Roundabout while others ran rampant clearly drunk beyond comprehension, perhaps disillusionment had finally set in when General Secretary of the Sri Lanka Nidahas Sevaka Sangamaya, Leslie Devendra was quoted as saying that “This was no way to topple a government”.

Speaking to sister paper Resa, Devendra heaping heavy criticism against the organisers said if organiser’s of a protest cannot ensure that those supporting them are not inconvenienced it only shows their incapability.

With JO stalwart and brother of the former President, Basil Rajapaksa being notably absent on the day supporters have been openly critical of JO parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa, who was seen as the main organiser of the Janabalaya protest calling it a major flop. Many of them opined that Basil would have organised the rally better making it a success.

As crowds at the protest began to thin towards the evening, Devendra too levelled the blame on the organisers. As organisers were seen pleading with people to remain if they love former President Mahinda Rajapaksa as the JO had threatned the Government with an overnight sit in, however, many walked away leaving a small crowd near the Lotus roundabout. This group too finally dispersed at around 12 midnight as well. “If people do not remain till the end of the rally that is the fault of those who organised it” Devendra said.

In the end, Namal Rajapaksa was forced to tweet out an apology in which he apologised to the supporters for any possible inconvenience they had to face as a result.

Meanwhile staunch Rajapaksa SLFP supporters too were not impressed with the antics on the day. Witnessing the aftermath of the protest and television coverage of the carnival like atmosphere, three wheel driver Sunil Priyashantha said the protest was an insult to not only former president Rajapaksa but to his loyal supporters as well.

“The scenes of drunken men and their antics was disgusting” he said adding that a protest for any cause must be conducted with dignity. He says he felt the organisers had brought shame to the former president.

“Despite being a supporter I think, sadly, it is now time for a different alternative than the main parties” he opined.