PM assured of UNP votes due to rift between UNP and SJB | Sunday Observer

PM assured of UNP votes due to rift between UNP and SJB

Government lawmakers are of the firm opinion that the voters are set to give a resounding mandate to the SLPP at the August 5 General Election and elect a fresh Parliament to ensure the much-needed political stability of the Government. The twice-postponed General Election is being held after overcoming several unprecedented hurdles so that Wednesday’s  much awaited Parliamentary Elections will mark the end of the period of uncertainty and gloom in the country. Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has said that UNP supporters have assured him that as the two UNP factions are fighting each other, they have no proper leadership  and therefore, that they will vote for the SLPP to support the policies of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to take the country on to the right track of development.

Premier Rajapaksa, during an election campaign in the Gampaha district, told the people that a strong Parliament is needed to execute the policies of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa which was approved by 6.9 million voters. He also said that everyone saw the crisis that was created by appointing leaders from two different parties during the former Yahapalana Government as the President and Prime Minister fought with each other instead of developing the country and added that such a situation should not be allowed to happen again.

Addressing a recent public gathering, SLFP National Organiser and SLPP Anuradhapura district contestant Duminda Dissanayake also said the SLFP supports President Gotabaya Rajapaksa with the hope that he will usher in an era of development for the country. He said “We have the responsibility to create a Parliament with a two-thirds majority for the fulfillment of the President’s Saubhagyaye Dekma election manifesto.”  He said “The UNP, SJB and JVP would never be able to come into power for another 25 years. As such, voting for such fragmented and irresponsible political parties is a waste of the precious franchise. Under these circumstances, I appeal to the supporters of these bankrupt political parties to give the highest value to their vote by voting for the Pohottuwa which has pledged to strengthen the hands of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa by creating two-thirds majority in Parliament.”

UNP expulsions

 The infighting between the two UNP factions took a new turn when the UNP Working Committee on Tuesday (July 28) approved the suspension of  the party memberships of 115 members. Accordingly, 54 members who had submitted nominations from the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) and another 61 Local Government members were expelled from the party.

A few days later, the UNP suspended the membership of another 37 Local Government members as they are supporting the SJB. The expulsion of UNPers who work with the SJB from the party is the latest twist in a long-running leadership dispute between veteran UNP Leader, Ranil Wickremesinghe and former Deputy Leader, Sajith Premadasa which has been ongoing since before last year’s Presidential Election.

Several prominent figures of the party including Ajith P. Perera, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, Sujeewa Senasinghe, Ranjan Ramanayake, Ashok Abeysinghe, Thusara Indunil and Nalin Bandara are also among the ousted members. The astonishing feature is that the decision on suspending the UNP membership of SJB Leader Sajith Premadasa is yet to be taken. The move comes days after the Appeal Court of Colombo rejected an appeal submitted by SJB General Secretary, Ranjith Madduma Bandara on the matter. However, SJB sources said that they will appeal the decision of the Civil Appeal Court.

The SJB maintains that it was formed based on a written directive from the UNP Working Committee. Defending the decision taken by the UNP’s Working Committee, Party Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has said that the High Court has ruled that the conduct of the SJB is an attempt to harm the UNP.  Wickremesinghe addressing a recent public meeting held in Rambukkana insisted that the UNP is the only political party in the country with a Sri Lankan identity, adding that it has protected the minorities and will continue to do so.

The SJB has expressed confidence about the party’s prospects at the forthcoming General Election, insisting that they would be unaffected by the UNP Working Committee decision to oust 115 members from their party. A SJB frontliner said “ Tuesday’s decision by the UNP Working Committee to expel 115 from the party by stripping their party membership will not affect the SJB’s election campaign and this shows how bankrupt the UNP is today.”

Addressing a press briefing SJB General Secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara said the UNP faction led by Ranil Wickremesinghe is trying to scare and mislead UNP Local Government members who are supporting the SJB at the General Election. Madduma Bandara said that this UNP gang  which has struck a deal with Rajapaksas is scaring SJB supporters saying that their party memberships would be revoked. “If they are to cancel our memberships, they have to carry out an impartial examination from every angle. Without such an examination, they cannot remove anybody. We have sought legal assistance from a special team of President’s Counsel to take this matter to the courts again,” he said.

19th Amendment

Government lawmakers have raised serious concern on the issues created by the 19th Amendment, JVP senior Vijitha Herath has said that his party would not allow the repeal of the 19th Amendment to  the Constitution and would join forces with any Party in the next Parliament to block any such moves Herath said, “The 19th Amendment is a big step in the right direction for democracy in the country. Abolishing the 19th Amendment would mean the country would take a few steps backwards. The 19A has its shortcomings but these can be amended. Abolishing it is out of the question. We will not allow it to happen.” However, Minister Johnston Fernando said “It is more appropriate to bring a new Constitution rather than amend the existing one. At present the 19th Amendment has created a series of issues.

It has dragged the country towards destruction. This should be changed to suit with present day needs. The 19th Amendment is an absurd Constitution introduced by the former Yahapalana Government. It has clearly mentioned how the Election Commission Chairman and its members should act but at present, the people have raised serious concern on the impartiality of the Election Commission.”

Former State Minister and SLPP candidate, Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena, told the media that there is a conspiracy against SLPP National Organiser, Basil Rajapaksa as a certain group who held a meeting at a five-star hotel in Colombo has  realised that  it is Basil Rajapaksa who is preparing the foundation for the SLPP’s election win. Abeywardena said at that meeting, it had been conspired to eliminate Basil Rajapaksa from the scene, if not, the conspirators would never be able to gain power.

He said a complaint will be filed with the Police over the matter adding that a request would be made to provide additional,special security for Basil Rajapaksa. The SLPP frontliner said the reports which suggest elimination, could be viewed as a threat to the life of Basil Rajapaksa.  Abeywardena said “One person had mentioned that  if Basil Rajapaksa is not eliminated from the political arena, the Rajapaksa’s would remain in power for many years to come.” He said more details cannot be revealed, as an inquiry is taking place.

The SLFP has raised concerns on the proposed counting of votes at the August 05 General Election on the following day, citing the possibility of  the tampering of votes. Addressing the media, Senior Advisor of the party, Prof. Rohana Lakshman Piyadasa said not only the SLFP but almost all other political parties in the fray had decided to discuss the issue with the Election Commission. Prof. Piyadasa said Sri Lanka had a bad reputation of election malpractices and the election history was replete with tales of intimidation of voters, stuffing of ballot boxes and impersonations. “What we are afraid of is that if anyone wants to, he can sabotage and change the pattern of the results. We have experience of blackouts, hijacking of ballot boxes and bundles of votes going missing during the counting at night. We need an extremely foolproof method of counting votes and the calculation of the results,” he said.

Election Commission

Election Commission Chief Mahinda Deshapriya has slammed reports circulating widely on social media alleging that he illegally approved the Samagi Jana Balawegaya, led by Sajith Premadasa to contest the August 5 General Elections as the party was not even six months old. Deshapriya said following the decision by the Supreme Court, which dismissed a petition which sought to invalidate the nomination list filed by the SJB for the General Election, the three Election Commissioners had signed a letter and sent to the SJB clearing their way to contest.

He said the letter was also widely circulated on social media in two languages for the public’s benefit. He told the media “I am very frank and I say everything very clearly. However, some people conveniently record my conversations and later edit the recordings and put it out for their own convenience.  The SJB was  clear to contest the upcoming polls,” he said.

The people applauded President Gotabaya Rajapaksa when he participated in a public gathering at Bandaragama for leading by example the transformation of the election campaign and the entire political culture in the country by infusing civility into them  within a short period of time. The people were of the view that a new art of election campaigns sans posters, banners and cutouts and violent conflicts has emerged. The people say it is a pleasing result of the actions taken by the President as the Head of State from last year’s Presidential Election up to now. President Rajapaksa was in  the Kalutara district on July 29 to extend his support to the SLPP candidates contesting Wednesday’s Parliamentary Election. The people told the President that his administration has won the hearts of the majority of the people so that he will receive a landslide victory to form a strong Parliament irrespective of political affiliations. People requested the President to use this power to rebuild the country through a Constitutional Amendment.

While  the SJB faction is clamouring for a leadership change of the UNP, SJB candidate and former MP Mayantha Dissanayake said his brother UNP National Organiser Navin Dissanayake would have called for a leadership change in the party due to his frustration about how it is being run. Dissanayake told a recent press conference that his brother‘s statement that the UNP leadership should change is a testimony that he is in a struggle for a change in his party. “My brother initially called for a leadership change in 2007. Many left the party as their aspirations for a leadership change did not materialise during the past few years,” he said.

People have commended the new concept initiated by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to go from town to town and village to village and listen to their grievances and provide solutions  for them. The new concept introduced in place of SLPP public rallies is instrumental in minimising waste of resources and the negative impact on the environment caused by the use of posters, banners and cutouts. People made these remarks while engaging in discussions with the President during his election campaign tour in Gampaha on July 30 for the second time. The people said that it is a great consolation for the President to see the ground reality to sort out many of their problems immediately. The President was also requested by the people at the meeting organised by former State Minister Nimal Lanza at Negombo, to take measures to halt  the destruction caused to  the Negombo lagoon and surrounding mangrove marshland and to develop the lagoon.

TNA

Clearly depicting the rift in the TNA, 15 representatives of the TNA including a former member of the Eastern Provincial Council have decided to support the SLPP at the upcoming election to take forward the program of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. This was revealed at a recent media briefing held in Trincomalee attended by two Pradeshiya Sabha members, a Deputy Chairman, seven former Pradeshiya Sabha members, two former Pradeshiya Sabha Chairmen and two former Opposition Leaders. They highlighted that their people had suffered during the 30-year battle against terrorism and no relief had been given to them.

They also said that TNA members leave for Colombo following the election and they only return to the village when an election is impending. They never understand the real sufferings of the people. Children of TNA members never attend ordinary schools in their area. A few of their children even attend Colombo schools and most of them are studying in foreign countries. They said that the TNA had never spent money that the Government allocates for the development in their areas. They also accused the TNA of deceiving the people in this manner for so many years. The group of Eastern Provincial Council representatives added that the Government, however, has funded several projects in those areas to provide facilities to the people in the North.

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