SLFP organisers fire warning shots against SLPP | Sunday Observer

SLFP organisers fire warning shots against SLPP

Just a few days into the new year rumours of a rift within the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) began to make the rounds in the political arena. The rumours claimed that a number of disgruntled district organisers was attempting to rally together others in dissent of the SLFP’s possible marriage to the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP).

Perhaps firing the first warning shots this week, a press conference was held by several organisers of the SLFP led by district organiser of the Kesbewa seat, Attorney-at-Law Rajika Kodithuwakku. Denying that this was an internal revolt within the SLFP, Kodituwakku preferred to call it a struggle in order to bring the party back to its original ideology.

About seven district organisers openly attended the dissenting press meet. “This is merely the beginning” Kodituwakku warned adding that many more, in fact almost 30 district organisers are prepared to join them.

According to Kodituwakku, a number of former SLFP parliamentarians, Provincial Ministers, local government members and even Ministers have joined their ranks. “They are advising us on how to continue with our struggle and ensure it is a success” he revealed. Kodituwakku claimed that their effort is to make sure their views become the majority view of the party. He stressed that this is in no way a revolt against the Chairman of the SLFP, President Maithripala Sirisena.

Kodituwakku said they decided to reveal the crisis in the party to protect democracy within. “We have more freedom now to discuss the issues within the party,” he said adding that this is their effort at the moment. “We only want to protect the SLFP and ensure its success” he assured.

The Coordinating Secretary to President Sirisena till January 3 when he resigned from the post, Kodituwakku claimed many in the SLFP informed the Chairman of the party of their dissent against the appointment of Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Prime Minister on October 26.

Kodituwakku and other district organisers claimed they are against the SLFP aligning with the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna. According to Kodituwakku, it is a question of the SLFP’s dignity as a political party in the country. “By taking the membership of the SLPP it was clear that Rajapaksa and his supporters showed they do not intend to carry on their political journey with the Sri Lanka Freedom Party,” he said adding that, therefore, the duty of all SLFP members is to protect the SLFP.

According to Kodituwakku, the party suffered great losses as the SLPP was promoted instead of the SLFP at the ground level. As more members have voiced their support to the group, Kodituwakku said the struggle will only intensify. “We must break away from the SLPP,” he said adding that if not, he and other SLFP members will be forced to join hands with any group that supports them to get rid of the Rajapaksa ideology from the SLFP. As the ground level SLFP members remain divided after the entrance of the SLPP Kodituwakku said the group is determined to defeat the opponent party at the upcoming elections. The group claimed it was the non-implementation of the SLFP Central Committee decisions that eventually led to the SLPP making gains while the SLFP suffered defeat.

Surprisingly also joining the group was SLFP stalwart and Kaduwela district organiser G.H Buddhadasa. Once the Mayor of Kaduwela Municipal Council, Buddhadasa has been an SLFP member for 42 years. “It causes me great pain to be part of this press conference,” he said. Having started the group to protect the SLFP over two months ago, he says the numbers expressing their support have increased. “ Twenty-four seat organisers have joined us, along with 18 SLFP MPs” he revealed. According to him, it is this support that has made members like him to voice their dissent.

“I have always been an SLFP member no matter who crossed over,” he said. Buddhadasa also expressed his disappointment having faced a staggering defeat at the last local government elections after contesting on an SLFP ticket due to the SLPP’s entrance to the political arena. “This is what has become of the SLFP now,” he said referring to the SLFP’s shocking defeat.

According to Buddhadasa, this is a fight to protect the SLFP. “Our aim is to form an SLFP government in 2025,” he said recalling that it has been the SLFP that ruled Sri Lanka the most number of years since 1948. “It is a party such as this that has now become the third force in Sri Lankan politics” he noted likening the SLFP to a shop without goods. “I will do anything to defeat those who are trying to destroy the SLFP” Buddadasa said.