Basil seeks two-thirds majority for new Constitution | Sunday Observer

Basil seeks two-thirds majority for new Constitution

The infighting between the two UNP factions has taken a new turn where the UNP and  the SJB are clashing with each other over the petty issue of the  party colour, ‘green’. The issue has turned into a  type of legal battle as UNP General Secretary Akila Viraj Kariyawasam made a written complaint to the Election Commission against  the SJB for using the UNP’s official colour green in its election propaganda. Kariyawasam said that the official colour of the UNP as in the party Constitution is green but that  the SJB is also using the same colour despite its official colour being blue.

UNP General Secretary Kariyawasam in a letter dated July 8, 2020 had complained that the SJB is using the colour, green, purposely to mislead UNP supporters. The senior UNPer has also noted that the  UNP’s election propaganda is greatly affected by this misuse.

However, in response to the UNP’s allegations, the SJB said the party is at liberty to use any colour it wishes. SJB frontliner Sujeewa Senasinghe clarified that the official colours symbolising the SJB are green and yellow.

He said “a colour could be the identity of a particular party but there is no steadfast law stating that a political party must use a particular colour. People don’t vote for colours. It is in fact very sad to see the political abyss to which UNP has fallen arguing over petty issues like this,” he said.

New Constitution

SLPP National Organiser, Basil Rajapaksa urged the people to give  a two-thirds majority to the SLPP at the upcoming election to introduce a new Constitution without being held hostage by various factions. He said there is no one responsible for the 19th Amendment.

Speaking to reporters at the SLPP headquarters in Colombo, Rajapaksa said there is a need to introduce a Constitution which is more suitable for the country and requested the people to give the SLPP power to ensure a Constitution which benefits the masses.

Commenting on the international agreements inked by the previous Yahapalana Government, the SLPP National Organiser said it is not possible to terminate those accords at once adding that they would explore the possibility of making certain amendments. He said as per the provisions of the Constitution, a two thirds majority is required to make the amendments.

Rajapaksa said the MCC agreement, if signed, would see a 480 million US dollar grant being given to Sri Lanka for transport and land administration projects in the country. However,  “a final decision will be reached only after a broad discussion with the public adhering to the recommendations by the Expert Committee appointed to study on the MCC agreement,” he said.

Former UNP Parliamentarian Vajira Abeywardana said that the 19th Amendment to the Constitution should not be changed amidst strong resistance from the current Government.

We have created a rigid democratic structure through the 19th Amendment. Abeywardana, a UNP candidate for the upcoming General Election said the Government will not secure a Parliamentary majority at the August 5 Parliamentary Election to amend the Constitution as planned. Abeywardana said, “Even if we lose, a Government can be formed based on a majority approval in Parliament. The 19th Amendment to the Constitution enables any party to form a Government if it musters a majority. Therefore, we will form a Government next month.” He recalled that it was in this manner that the former Government in which he was also a Minister formed an administration despite winning only 40 seats out of 225. He said the UNP has decided not to go for a coalition but to form its own Government after the General Election and added that this decision was made by the UNP Working Committee which met at party headquarters Sirikotha on July 08.

Public gatherings

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Thursday, July 9, took part in a series of public gatherings organised in support of the SLPP Colombo District candidates in  the run up to next month’s election.

The President first participated in a gathering organised at Crow Island, Mattakkuliya. The President was warmly welcomed by the people present at the event organised by SLPP candidate, Anura Fernando.

The residents in Mattakkuliya requested the President to eradicate the drug menace from the country similar to the manner  in which he provided them with housing facilities while doing away with slums. They said the lives of  many youth and adults have perished due to drug addiction. “This is one of the pressing issues faced by us.”

They said that they firmly believe President Rajapaksa is the leader who can wipe out this peril.

The President also attended public gatherings organised by candidates Premanath C. Dolawatta at Hyde Park,Colombo and Thilanga Sumathipala  at the Viharamahadevi Park.

 The people appealed to the President to build a secure country for the benefit of the children while giving priority to development projects. President Rajapaksa joining public gatherings organised by former State Minister Susil Premajayantha  at Narahenpita and Sarath Weerasekara at Dematagoda requested the people to support them to form a stable Parliament to build a prosperous country.

The President also received a warm welcome from the people at the public rallies organised by Udaya Gammanpila near  the Diyatha Uyana, Battaramulla and the public meeting organised by Minister Wimal Weerawansa at the Buddhadasa grounds.

President Rajapaksa responded positively  to a request by people in Kolonnawa to provide a Regional Health Services Centre for their benefit. This request was made to the President when he joined the public gathering organised by Ajith Subasinghe in Kolonnawa.

Resignation

Reflecting on the unresolved crisis between two UNP factions, UNP member Rohitha Bogollagama has withdrawn his party membership and the National List candidacy. Speaking to the media he said he has informed UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe regarding his resignation in writing.

He said the UNP is walking a tight political rope. Bogollagama said that he is committed to supporting an agenda that works towards fulfilling the needs of the people. Bogollagama in his letter of resignation said, “I strongly believe that I have a duty by the country and her people as done by me always in the august offices I have held during the past.

I have clearly proved this principle in my roles evidently as Foreign Minister at the most critical time of the war and even as the Governor of the Eastern Province recently. The time has now come for me again to serve the nation and to be of service to the country with the motto ‘Sri Lanka First’, rather than being confined to the parameters that dictate our party politics. People’s expectations are contrary to our traditional beliefs and moreover sentiments are growing for greater consolidation of national interest.”

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said that attacking the Rajapaksas was the main objective of bringing in the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. The Premier told the Muslim community in Kurunegala that Muslims should join the present Government irrespective of party affiliations. The Kurunegala District Muslim Conference was held under the patronage of the Prime Minister while a group of electoral activists of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress joined hands to support the Government.

The Premier told the Party Convention that it has come to light  that some Muslim leaders who held important ministerial posts in his Government apparently misled the unsuspecting Muslim voters to come to power. He said that a certain Muslim leader used to carry a bag by his side and he could notice that his bag was getting bigger and heavier. “Now I think that you all can guess what he was carrying inside that bag because now the cat has jumped out of the bag,” he said.

JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake had said that they are aware that they cannot win at the upcoming General Election but  is sure to score several victories. Dissanayake, told a public gathering organised by the National People’s Power at Maharagama recently, that to raise the people’s voice in Parliament, a group of MPs from  the Malimawa should be sent to Parliament. Former JVP Parliamentarian Nihal Galappaththi said his party does not give false pledges to the people and  that hey have presented a viable program which will help to increase the people’s income.

He said the country would not have been in peril economically, if the promises given by the Governments in the run up to the elections are fulfilled.

UNP Kalutara district candidate, Palitha Thewarapperuma who threatened to withdraw his candidature, said he would resume his election campaign as the Election Commission Chairman informed him that he could not legally do so.

He told the media outside the Election Commission that the EC Chairman refused to accept his letter of resignation saying candidates could not withdraw after handing over nominations.

Thewarapperuma said, “I wanted to legally withdraw my candidature and I met the EC Chairman and submitted my resignation letter. He told me I cannot do so legally. Therefore, I will re-start my campaign in a new and vigorous manner.”

Thewarapperuma said that he and his family were being harassed on political grounds and  therefore, he had decided to withdraw from politics and look after his wife and son.

Former State Minister of Defence Ruwan Wijewardene told the media that Sajith Premadasa should not have rushed in and he should have waited patiently until the 2025 Presidential Election so that he could have led the UNP and become the President.

Wijewardene told the media, after paying homage at the historical Dalada Maligawa, that  the UNP is not a private property or a family asset of anyone and that  it is a party of the people.

However, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party is a party of the Bandaranaikes and  the Pohottuwa is a party of the Rajapaksa family. Wijewardene said they were not there to attack Sajith Premadasa’s party but to fight against the Government. He said at present the common masses are facing severe hardships and  that they are fed up with politics.

No division

Despite the disagreements between Minister Prasanna Ranatuga and former President Maithripala Sirisena, SLPP Colombo district candidate and former State Minister Susil Premajayantha said that there was no division within the party or the Sri Lanka Nidahas Podujana Sandhanaya (SLNPS) which will contest the upcoming General Election under the ‘flower bud’ symbol.

Minister Ranatunga at several public gatherings expressed his displeasure over former President Maithripala Sirisena contesting under the ‘flower bud’ symbol and called on the SLPP supporters to step back from supporting former President Sirisena and his faction.

Premajayantha told reporters at the SLPP head office, that there was no division within the party about former President Sirisena and the Sri Lankan Freedom Party (SLFP) contesting with the SLPP. He downplayed Ranatunga’s remarks and said Ranatunga did not intend to create any division within the party. “Politicians make various statements during election campaigns, but that will not affect the unity of the party or such statements will not discourage voters.”

Forty seats

UNP National Organiser former Parliamentarian Navin Dissanayake says the UNP will be able to secure 40 seats in Parliament at the 2020 General Election.

Speaking to the media after a public gathering in Ginigathhena, Dissanayake said when politicians are contesting under various political alliances, the UNP is the only party which contests the upcoming election alone.

He said the country’s economy has collapsed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. He said the UNP is confident that it can secure 40 seats in Parliament.

Dissanayake said the Government does not have a plan to uplift the country and the people and therefore, the public will realise it is only the UNP that is capable of implementing a plan to revitalise the economy. In addition, UNP National Organiser Dissanayake addressing a press conference in Nuwara Eliya said a group of UNP dissidents is trying to mislead people by using the party’s official colour. He said the UNP has been using green as the party’s official colour and  the UNP dissidents who are contesting under a different party cannot use the UNP’s official colour.

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