UNP and SJB to go it alone | Sunday Observer

UNP and SJB to go it alone

Amidst the unresolved crisis between the Sajith and Ranil factions to reach a common consensus to contest under one banner at the upcoming polls, Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Leader Sajith Premadasa clearly expressing their breakaway from the UNP opened the SJB main party office at Ethulkotte in close proximity to UNP headquarters, Sirikotha on March 09. Except for a few Ranil loyalists, a large number of UNP heavyweights such as former parliamentarians Gayantha Karunatilleka, Lakshman Kiriella, Chandrani Bandara, Rajitha Senaratne, Tissa Attanayake and Party Leaders of the SJB led Alliance Patali Champika Ranawaka and Rauf Hakeem were present at the inauguration ceremony.

After opening the SJB office, Sajith Premadasa told the party supporters that it was the beginning of a massive democratic and people-friendly revolution in the country. He also revealed that prior to the launch of the SJB, he and the party’s General Secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara went to UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe’s residence to personally invite him to the event. Premadasa said his invitation remains open still as the doors of the SJB are wide open to everyone.

However, it has been reported that SJB General Secretary Madduma Bandara has informed the Election Commission that the SJB will contest all 22 districts under the ‘telephone’ symbol at the forthcoming General Elections. UNP General Secretary, Akila Viraj Kariyawasam has also informed the Election Commission of their decision to contest separately under the ‘elephant’ symbol. The frontliners of both Sajith and Ranil factions have already confirmed that there is no room for the two factions to jointly contest under one banner.

A prominent SJB member said they have already taken the final decision to contest under the ‘telephone’ symbol and now they are in the process of formulating their nomination lists. A UNP veteran also confirmed that they are doing the final touches to their nomination lists. A SJB heavyweight said at present those who are with UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe are joining hands with the SJB led by Sajith Premadasa. He said former UNP MPs Kavinda Jayawardena and K.K. Piyadasa have joined their bandwagon.

Two discussions have been held with the intervention of former Speaker Karu Jayasuriya at his private residence in Bambalapitiya on March 8 and 9 on the current crisis situation between the two UNP factions. The political representatives of both factions had participated in the discussion held on March 8 while the lawyers of both factions had attended the discussion held on March 9. The discussions had been arranged following a request by both Sajith and Ranil factions to former Speaker Jayasuriya to intervene to sort out the internal dispute within the UNP. Reliable sources confirmed that two factions could not reach a final consensus at the discussions but that Jayasuriya had said that if both factions are genuinely interested , he would be willing to intervene further to sort out the issue.

Although speculation was rife within the political circles that Thursday’s SLFP Central Committee would be decisive, it was not so. Since some SLPP members make verbal onslaughts against the SLFP, the statements by certain SLFP members that their party would contest separately were to receive attention at the Central Committee meeting. However, things took a different turn and ultimately the SLFPers led by Party Leader Maithripala Sirisena signed their nomination papers.

Except for the Northern and Eastern provinces, all Central Committee members representing other districts had participated in Thursday’s Central Committee meeting. At the inception, some of the Central Committee members had referred to the verbal blows dealt against them by their SLPP counterparts.

Though a decision was to be taken in this regard, it had not been clearly expressed what the decision was to be. Later, the Central Committee chaired by Party Leader Maithripala Sirisena had discussed a proposal put forward by the SLFP Disciplinary Committee and reached the final conclusion that former SLFP MP Wijith Wijayamuni Zoysa and three Pradeshiya Sabha chairmen have violated the party constitution. Therefore, the Central Committee had given the approval to sack former MP Wijith Wijayamuni Zoysa from the party and suspend the party membership of the three Pradeshiya Sabha chairmen. Wijayamuni Zoysa and some SLFP Local Government members have already extended their support to the SJB led by Sajith Premadasa.

Meanwhile, a rumour was circulating that a popular young UNP Parliamentarian from Uva has decided to come from the National List of the SJB led by Sajith Premadasa. There is speculation that this young politician has decided to divorce his wife and enter into a new wedded life. However, reliable sources confirmed that the wife of this particular young politician hailing from a traditional UNP bastion in the Uva has decided to contest the forthcoming General Election from the UNP ticket. The enraged politician is said to have blasted his wife and behaved in an unruly manner damaging property at home. Some of the UNP linked social media networks had also reported this.

Former President Sirisena’s recent controversial ‘hawk story’ has caused a lot of embarrassment to SLFP candidates ready to contest the upcoming General Election. Rumour had its day when it was said that a serious situation arose with attempts to remove Sirisena from the party leadership as some SLFP candidates had expressed their opposition to his remarks. A SLFP veteran who is eyeing the party leadership had informed a SLPP heavyweight that Maithripala Sirisena would be expelled from the party leadership very soon.

At present a conflict has been created between former President Maithripala Sirisena and former State Minister Roshan Ranasinghe for the Polonnaruwa District leadership. Some are of the view when the SLPP and SLFP jointly contest the upcoming polls, the Polonnaruwa district leadership should be given to former President Maithripala Sirisena who is the most senior person on the list. However, Roshan Ranasinghe, one of the SLPP frontliners has triggered an open battle with former President Sirisena demanding the Polonnaruwa District leadership for himself.

Former Minister Lakshman Kiriella has decided not to support Ranil Wickremesinghe as he has turned down Kiriella’s request to appoint him from the National List and give candidacy to his daughter to contest from the Kandy district. However, the SJB Leader Sajith Premadasa had given his consent to offer a National List slot to Kiriella and allow his daughter to contest from the Kandy district. Kiriella who was a Ranil loyalist has switched allegiance to the Sajith faction as a result of this.

It is reported that another Ranil loyalist, UNP National Organiser Navin Dissanayake is sending messagea fter message to SJB Leader Sajith Premadasa asking him to accommodate him in the SJB. Earlier Dissanayake said that he would not contest the election under any other symbol except elephant due to legal issues in the constitution of the new Alliance. However, Navin Dissanayake’s brother, former UNP Kandy district MP Mayantha Dissanayake has already extended his support to the SJB.

It seems the open confrontation between former President Maithripala Sirisena and some SLPP frontliners has not been resolved as yet and a controversy has been created due to nominations being given to former President Sirisena to contest from the SLPP ticket. Some SLPP heavyweights had openly expressed the view that the former President should be given a SLPP National List slot without allowing him to contest the election. The SLPPers have said that if former President Sirisena contests the election, it would create a series of issues to their party members. Under these circumstances when a request had been made to former President Sirisena to come from the National List, he had turned it down and expressed his desire to contest the Polonnaruwa seat. However, former President Sirisena had also signed the nomination papers on March 12 with the participation of SLPP National Organiser Basil Rajapaksa, Ministers Chamal Rajapaksa and Mahinda Amaraweera and former State Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara.

Meanwhile, SLFP General Secretary Dayasiri Jayasekara had told an SLFPers meeting that the SLFP is being vehemently attacked by relegating it to the level of a grade two class! He said at present those who are in the SLPP don’t blame the UNP and they only blame the SLFP and Maithripala Sirisena. As the SLFP, we took a decision at the last Presidential Election when there were divergent views within the party. One section of the SLFP said we should contest separately while others were of the view that they should extend our support to the UNP. If we did so, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa would have been defeated. Jayasekara told the supporters a group of people including former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and Kumara Welgama helped Sajith Premadasa. That is why at those meetings Kumara Welgama openly said if they win they would kick Dayasiri Jayasekara out from the party General Secretaryship! This clearly shows that it is we who safeguarded the SLFP. We stood at the right place to secure the victory of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa questioned whether the JVP which also played a leading role to imprison their political opponents during the Treasury Bond scam had any hidden hand in the ‘disappearance’ of former UNP MP Ravi Karunanayake who is evading arrest. JVP National Organiser Bimal Ratnayake had recently said Ravi Karunanayake had hidden himself somewhere under the protection of a powerful political figure of the present Government. Premier Rajapaksa who had responded to Rathnayake’s statement had said that he has doubts whether the JVP had itself hidden Karunanayake due to their fear that the frauds and malpractices which took place during the former Yahapalana Government will be exposed.

The recent statement by SLFP Media Spokesman Weerakumara Dissanayake on Minister Prasanna Ranatunga led to a big controversy within the media circles as Minister Ranatunga too responded to Weerakumara’s statement. Minister Ranatunga said Weerakumara who betrayed Mahinda Rajapaksa and joined hands with Maithripala Sirisena has no right to speak of the SLFP. He said the people at the upcoming elections would take a decision on those like Weerakumara who indulged in political deals.

The Minister said Weerakumara has mixed up what he said. “ I didn’t ask not to vote for any SLFPer. What I said was after former President Maithripala Sirisena’s ‘hawk story’ not to vote for even those who are remotely connected to him. Former President Sirisena ruined the SLFP and the country by forming the Yahapalana Government.

Therefore, after his ‘hawk story’, it was very obvious that he is getting ready to resort to the same tactic which he practised in 2015. The Minister further said Weerakumara who entered Parliament with the help of the then President Mahinda Rajapaksa later resorted to deals in the hope of positions in the SLFP and now makes a big hue and cry. My speech may embarrass those who have engaged in ‘deals’.” Minister Ranatunga also referred to Weerakumara’s ‘dog story’ as well. He said dogs are supposed to display a sense of gratitude to its master. However, Weerakumara’s speech proved that there is not even a jackal who can boo Maithripala Sirisena!

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on Wednesday (March 11) signed the nomination papers to contest from Kurunegala district at the upcoming General Election at a ceremony held at his Wijerama road official residence.

The Premier signed the nomination papers at an event which was attended by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and a large number of SLPP frontliners including Ministers Dullas Alahapperuma, Wimal Weerawansa, Dinesh Gunawardena, Pavithra Wanniarachchi, Ramesh Pathirana, Bandula Gunawardana, Prasanna Ranatunga, S.M. Chandrasena and former State Minister Rohitha Abeygunawardana. Former President Maithripala Sirisena , SLPP Secretary Sagara Kariyawasam and UPFA General Secretary Mahinda Amaraweera had also participated in the occasion. Later, Premier Rajapaksa in a tweeter message had said that he is committed to conduct an environment- friendly and clean election campaign. The Prime Minister had also said that he would form a strong Government to implement the SLPP manifesto for a better future for all Sri Lankans.

The book titled Ape Satana Cartoon Esin compiled by former UPFA Colombo District Parliamentarian Udaya Gammanpila was launched at the Sri Sambuddha Jayanthi Mandiraya, Colombo on Thursday (March 12) under the patronage of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and attended by many SLPP heavyweights.

Premier Rajapaksa addressing the ceremony said it will be an easy victory for the SLPP if the UNP led opposition which has been divided into factions contests the upcoming General Election jointly.

The Prime Minister told the gathering “I’m much delighted that I am also in most of these cartoons.

He said Gammanpila remained with us till dawn on the day we lost the Presidential Election in 2015. He was the first to be taken to the FCID over allegations that we planned a military coup that night. G.L. Peiris was the second to be taken to the FCID.

Today, it has been proved that all these allegations are false.”

SLPP Chairman Prof. G.L. Peiris said that a magnificent victory achieved by former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the 2019 Presidential Election remained incomplete until the parliamentary power was secured by the SLPP. Prof.Peiris recalled how the UNP-led Opposition prevented the UPFA from receiving parliamentary endorsement for Vote on Account.