SLPP achieves many political victories in four years | Sunday Observer

SLPP achieves many political victories in four years

8 November, 2020

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) celebrated its fourth anniversary on November 01. During a short tenure of four years, the SLPP popularly known as Pohottuwa has achieved many political victories in the Sri Lankan political landscape.

After independence, the political power of Sri Lanka was shifted between the political alliance led by the SLFP or the political alliance led by the UNP. Under these circumstances, the JVP attempted to come forward as the third political movement in the country. The JVP’s biggest political victory was the 46 seats they secured at the 2004 General Election by contesting under the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) led by the SLFP.

After that the JVP as a single political party could not secure any political victory. When the SLPP was formed, the theoreticians of the Yahapalana Government and the group led by SLFP Chairman Maithripala Sirisena were of the view that the SLPP would not be able to become the third political force in the country. On one occasion, the then President Maithripala Sirisena said that those who formed a new political party will have to walk alone on the streets.

Third political force

We should look at the destiny faced by the political party leaders who formed a third political force or a new political party by quitting their main political party. In 1964, the then SLFP Chairman C.P. de Silva along with 12 SLFP MPs quit the SLFP and formed the Sri Lanka Freedom Socialist Party. At the 1970 Parliamentary Election, C.P. de Silva even lost his parliamentary seat.

When the son of Dudley Senanayake’s brother Rukman Senanayake was expelled from the party by J.R .Jayewardene, he formed the United Lanka People’s Party but he could not even secure a parliamentary seat. Later, the Democratic United National Front formed by UNP stalwarts Gamini Dissanayake and Lalith Athulathmudali also turned into an utter failure. In such circumstances, we should analyse deeply the political vision created by the SLPP. We should also analyse as to how the SLPP rapidly emerged as the third political force in the country.

After President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s electoral defeat in January 08, 2015, the majority within the party circle attempted to put the blame on then Economic Development Minister, Basil Rajapaksa. Basil Rajapaksa along with his wife went to America on January 11, 2015. However, Basil Rajapaksa returned to the country on April 21, 2015. Thousands of party supporters gathered at the airport to welcome him. Former Minister Rajapaksa gave fresh hope to those who were at the airport to welcome him.

Basil Rajapaksa had been summoned to the FCID on April 22, 2015. After recording statements the entire day, he was produced before the Kaduwela Courts on the same night. Then Rajapaksa was remanded from April 22 to May 05, 2015 due to three cases handled by the FCID. He was remanded for the third time on July 18, 2015 by framing false allegations.

However, Rajapaksa was granted bail on August 08, 2015 following several fundamental rights petitions filed by him. However, when Basil Rajapaksa was in jail he had clearly identified the need for a new political movement. At that time, the Yahapalana Government was losing its credibility day by day due to the witch-hunt of its political opponents, failure of its 100 Day Program and the Central Bank bond scam. Therefore, Basil Rajapaksa came out of prison with the firm determination of forming a new political party. He had made arrangements to form the SLPP and design its symbol as well when he was in prison.

The Joint Oppostion

The Parliament was dissolved on June 26, 2015 and the date had been fixed for the General Election on August 17. It was evident that the entire country was asking for the political leadership of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa after the inaugural rally held at Nugegoda themed Mahinda Samaga negitimu.

Therefore, the political leaders with Mahinda Rajapaksa emphasised the need for contesting the General Election under a new political movement. However, it was decided to contest under the UPFA banner with the political leadership of Mahinda Rajapaksa. The UPFA could secure 96 seats at the General Election. A group of 56 UPFA MPs who were with Mahinda Rajapaksa sat in the Opposition and functioned as the Joint Opposition in Parliament. The political leaders and Parliamentarians such as Dinesh Gunawardena, Wimal Weerawansa, Keheliya Rambukwella, Udaya Gammanpila, Vasudeva Nanayakkara and Dullas Alahapperuma played a leading role in the Joint Opposition. If Dinesh Gunawardena acted as the JO Leader in Parliament, it was led by fifth Executive President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Then onwards, the people’s power rallied round Mahinda Rajapaksa and requested to form a new political party and capture power by leading the country towards an accelerated development path. Mahinda Rajapaksa vested that responsibility upon his brother, Basil Rajapaksa, and he fulfilled that responsibility to the letter. That is how the SLPP was formed on November 01, 2016. The public attraction for the SLPP was further strengthened due to its protest march launched from Kandy to Colombo and the countrywide Mahinda Sulaga political rallies were ganised. A massive crowd attended the SLPP’s May Day rally held on Galle Face Green on May 01, 2017.

Landslide victory

The SLPP could secure a landslide victory at the Local Government election held on February 10, 2018.At the SLPP party convention held at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium in 2019, fifth Executive President Mahinda Rajapaksa was named as the SLPP Leader. Then SLPP Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa named his brother Gotabaya Rajapaksa as the SLPP Presidential Candidate.

Later, a TNA MP, a Chairman of a state media institution and an Editor of a state owned English weekly filed cases in the Supreme Court challenging his dual citizenship to prevent Gotabaya Rajapaksa from contesting the election.

However, that Supreme Court ruling was a clear sign of the victory of Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Finally, SLPP Presidential Candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa could become the President by securing a 1.9 million majority than his rival candidate Sajith Premadasa.