Api Sri Lanka : Vote for anybody who won’t destroy the SLFP - Kumara Welgama | Sunday Observer

Api Sri Lanka : Vote for anybody who won’t destroy the SLFP - Kumara Welgama

Kumara Welgama warned the members of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) of the possibility of a Rajapaksa grabbing the power of the SLFP after an election result in favour of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP). He was speaking at the convention organised for the SLFP breakaway faction, opposing its allegiance to the SLPP.

As he explained, there is a by-law in the constitution, if somebody becomes the President after a collaborative election campaigning and if that person is not a member of another party that person can receive the Chairmanship of the SLFP.

The event, Api Sri Lanka, organised under the patronage of the former President, called on all SLFP organisers who opposed the marriage between the SLFP and the SLPP to work together to ensure that the party is rebuilt.

Since its decision to join the SLPP, SLFP stalwarts such as Kumara Welgama took the initiative to gain the support of the remaining organisers and party members. The presence of SLFP members such as MP Victor Anthony and Former Kaduwela Mayor G. H. Buddhadasa at the function was a positive sign as they could safeguard the interests of the SLFP.

Speaking to the Sunday Observer, former parliamentarian Victor Anthony criticized Mahinda Rajapaksa who entered politics through the SLFP, was appointed Opposition Leader, Prime Minister as well as the President from the party, is now doing something like taking the life of one’s own mother.

Many elements that were behind Sobitha Thera’s movement have rallied behind this candidate. They recently signed MoUs with many other parties including parties representing the minorities. The Kalutara district United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) Parliamentarian and SLFP stalwart Kumara Welgama stole the limelight that evening. The Parliamentarian, a strong supporter of the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa throughout the Yahapalanaya Government, turned his back on his political guru Rajapaksa, following the decision to form the SLPP thereby diluting the SLFP. He was probably the only politician in the Mahinda camp who opposed the arrival of ex Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa to active politics.

“After Madam Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, Kumara Welgama is the most senior person who can talk about the SLFP” he began. He went on to explain his political history built up with the blessings of the Bandaranaikes. It was former Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike who gave him the Agalawatta electorate, 38 years ago.

“You know that the SLFP can rise again even though the party is in a zero position now. Mr. Bandaranaike started the SLFP with just eight parliamentary seats and recorded a revolutionary victory in 1956. Therefore, the responsibility to protect the SLFP lies with the members of the party the parliamentarian said.

He accused that certain individuals who had crossed over from one party to another have now come forward to protect the SLFP while discussing about the rights of the SLFP. “We will not let that happen. We will face any force and protect the SLFP. It is the responsibility of all of us” he said.

The Mahinda Rajapaksa Government collapsed due to the unity of the anti-Rajapaksa forces at the end of 2014. However, MP Welgama was also self-critical of the 9-year rule of the Rajapaksa regime at Wednesday’s rally. “You know what happened during our Government. There’s no need to spell out each and every word, our conscience knows it all” he told fellow SLFP members.

“Who gave him the Chairmanship of the SLFP? It was Mahinda Rajapaksa who named Maithripala Sirisena as the Chairman of the Party at Chamal Rajapaksa’s house in our presence, which we accepted,” Welgama said.

Welgama unfolded his story, where he opposed the idea of forming a national government with the UNP at the first SLFP meeting with President Sirisena and how he got on the stage of the Mahinda Sulanga rally in Nugegoda.

“We took such brave decisions for the sake of the party. But we did not face any disciplinary actions for saying that. I am telling you, they will never ever conduct inquiries. Do not be afraid of disciplinary actions and losing positions. Madam Chandrika and we are all with you to protect your positions. This is our last chance” the Parliamentarian said.

“We did not convene this meeting to declare our support to anybody. We only want to protect our party. And I say this very openly all the time, I will not vote for the Pohottuwa. Welgama will vote for somebody out of the 34. You can vote for anybody except somebody who will destroy the SLFP” he noted.

Former President and advisor of SLFP Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga said, it is important not just to look at the individuals but their plans and policies before voting at this election.

“I was not going to engage in politics anymore, but with what transpired I was asked to come to give leadership to the party when the so called leaders of the party were not acting for the benefit of the party,” the former President said to a cheering crowd packed in the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium.

Pointing out that this election is crucial, the former President said it is important to consider the candidate’s manifestoes rather than the individual when deciding who to vote for.

“This will be a historical election, depending on who will decide the country’s future for the longer duration. In my opinion rather than looking at the individuals one should look at their policies and how much they can work to fulfil those promised policies, when deciding who to vote,” she said.

Speaking about the marriage between the two parties, calling it illegal, the former President said the majority of the party representatives were against the decision to align with the SLPP. Indicating that it is time to revive the SLFP she said this arbitrary decision to support the SLPP has left the party hanging in the air.

“The decision to support the SLPP candidate is not the legitimate decision of our party. They never consulted me or informed me about these decisions. I must say this is not the first time that Mahinda Rajapaksa has attempted to destroy the SLFP. He has attempted this thrice, previously,” she said.

Analysing the manifestoes of the two candidates of the New Democratic Front (NDF) and the SLPP she urged the people to understand them thoroughly before going to the polling booth. Insisting the people not to be carried away by the fancy words used in these manifestoes she requested them to be mindful of how they would achieve such promises made during the campaign. Calling Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s promise to eliminate corruption as the biggest joke of the century she pointed out that corruption escalated during the Rajapaksa regime. The most expensive roads were built during the Rajapaksa regime where large sums of money were spent on commissions.

“His manifesto contains many promises but fails to show a blueprint of how he would achieve them. I should like to pose the question as to how he would ensure freedom to the people under his leadership,” she said.

Calling the NDF candidate’s manifesto a more palpable one the former President went on to state that his path seems to be clearly laid out. It properly indicates what he intends to do for the people and how he would realize them.

Therefore, she said, looking at the main candidates there is a clear cut distinction as to who will fulfil the promises made to the people. 

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