Gota cannot win without SLFP support - Dayasiri | Sunday Observer

Gota cannot win without SLFP support - Dayasiri

SLFP General Secretary MP Dayasiri Jayasekara said if Gotabaya Rajapaksa contests as the SLPP presidential candidate, he cannot secure victory without the support of the SLFP. In an interview with the Sunday Observer, MP Jayasekara said that at the last Local Government polls, the SLPP obtained nearly 5 million votes but a presidential candidate should get at least 6.5 million votes. However, the SLPP presidential candidate is not in a position to get another 1.5 million votes. This is the ground reality and all will have to work keeping this in mind. Jayasekara said it is up to President Maithripala Sirisena and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to reach a final consensus in the ongoing talks between the SLFP and SLPP and added that the SLFP will have to take a final decision before its September 02 Party Convention.

Q: What is the progress on the ongoing talks between the SLFP and SLPP? Is it true that the SLFP is to take a final decision within the next two weeks?

A: Discussions are still going on between President Maithripala Sirisena and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to arrive at a final decision in this regard. The first round of talks between the incumbent President and the former President has already been completed and the second round of talks is due to commence shortly. Whether to have a final consensus between the two parties or not will have to be decided based on the discussions between the two leaders. However, the SLFP will have to take a decision before the SLFP convention on September 02. We believe we should deliver a message to our party supporters on this day and therefore, we are trying to reach a consensus before it. However, it is up to President Maithripala Sirisena and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to reach the final consensus.

Q: Will you field your own SLFP candidate if the current discussions between the SLFP and SLPP fail?

A: So far, we have not taken any such decision. It will be decided on the outcome of the talks between President Maithripala Sirisena and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Q: The SLFP National Organiser MP Duminda Dissanayake says the SLFP is the kingmaker this time as he claims a presidential candidate will have to get 6.5 million votes and which he can’t do without the SLFP support. Can you elaborate on this?

A: Whoever the candidate, he cannot win without the support of the SLFP. According to the then political situation, the SLPP secured 5 million votes at the last Local Government elections due to the pledge given to the people that they will make Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Prime Minister at the next General Election. Nearly 80 percent of votes had been cast at the last Local Government elections held on February 10, 2018. Therefore, if Gotabaya Rajapaksa contests as the SLPP presidential candidate, he cannot get another 1.5 million votes and it is very clear that the next Presidential Election cannot be won without the support of the SLFP. This is the ground reality and we hope everybody will work keeping this in mind.

Q: Your party seniors have said that whatever discussions are held between the SLFP and SLPP, they will not provide any room to betray the SLFP or its supporters to the SLPP. Could you explain this?

A: Definitely. At present, attempts are being made to liquidate the SLFP due to certain activities on the part of some SLPP frontliners. This has made a serious impact on the SLFP. Therefore, we have to safeguard our MPs, local government members and supporters. During the discussions between the two parties, we should be able to reach a consensus for the future prospects of the party as well as the country. So, we will have to face a series of challenges but we are doing our job by keeping the party and supporters as our top priority.

Q: Taking disciplinary action against SLFP MPs who took part in the first ‘Mahinda Sulaga’ rally and other subsequent forums of the SLPP, is long overdue now with no action taken against them at all. Will it ever happen even at this last moment?

A: Actually, action would have been taken against them a couple of years ago but it didn’t happen. Even some SLFP MPs crossed over to the UNP but no action was taken against them as well. Since the inception, I was of the view that disciplinary action should be taken against both SLFP MPs who have joined the SLPP and the UNP. Under the present circumstances, there are some difficulties in taking action against them. If a group of SLFP MPs deliberately attempt to liquidate the SLFP, I think legal action should be taken against them to safeguard the party.

Q: The President said he will take disciplinary action against the SLFP MPs who are with him but took part in the recent SLPP Convention. If so, what about other SLFP MPs who are with the SLPP for a long time?

A: So far, it has not been decided to take disciplinary action against the SLFP MPs who took part at the SLPP Convention but it will be discussed at the SLFP Central Committee. Earlier, we issued a letter to the other SLFP MPs who are with the SLPP stating that they are members of the UPFA. Therefore, I don’t think we are in a position to take action against them. Then we have to discuss the steps to be taken against the SLFP MPs who crossed over to the UNP. All this has to be discussed at the SLFP Central Committee and a decision taken. As the SLFP General Secretary, I am not in a position to take any action against them.

Q: Is it true that some of your SLFP MPs are going to align with the UNP at the last moment?

A: None of us have taken such a decision. The SLFP MPs who are not willing to align with the SLPP have been labeled as UNPers by giving a wrong impression that they are going to cross over to the UNP. Our intention is to safeguard the party whatever agreement is reached upon. I don’t think any of our SLFP MPs will join the UNP.

Q: What is your stand on Mahinda Rajapaksa holding the Leader of the Opposition post while he has become the SLPP Leader?

A: Being a member of one political party, if somebody takes the membership of another political party, then he has to give up the membership of his former party. Therefore, it is up to the Leader of the Opposition to take a decision based on it.

Q: Now that the SLPP is at the centre stage of politics, what are the SLFP’s future political prospects?

A: At present the SLPP politics have made some impact on the SLFP but this is only a temporary setback. Actually, traditional SLFPers distanced themselves from the SLFP due to the fact that the SLFP formed a National Government with the UNP. There are several political factors which paved the way for the SLFP to take that decision. The SLFP had to join hands with the UNP as a result of Maithripala Sirisena being elected as the President and taking over the SLFP leadership and he also had to continue in the Government for five years.

That was done following a decision taken by the SLFP Central Committee. Otherwise, none of us personally agreed to work together. Actually, that decision was taken owing to the political situation which prevailed in the country and also to prevent instability in the country. Today, we all hold one particular view.

The complex situation in the SLPP may also be systematically overcome. As a party, we will continue our political activities. Whatever the issues, a large number of people are rallied round the SLFP . Nearly 1.4 people voted for the SLFP even at the last Local Government elections. Therefore, our task is to further strengthen the SLFP. 

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