- Basil, Nimal, John met at a non-political get-together
- Akila, Dayasiri clash over education sector appointment
- Ranjith Madduma Bandara, SF, Mangala tipped to be UNP Asst. Leaders
- Mahinda, Gota, GL at “Aloko Udapadhi”
The government gave mind initially to conduct the elections to all the Provincial Councils (PC) on the same day. The elections were due first for the North Central, Sabaragamuwa and Eastern PCs this year as their terms are scheduled to conclude in the latter half of the year. Rather than having elections to them first, the government’s thought of conducting elections to all PCs on the same day either this year or next year. If they are to be held next year, the elections to the three councils ending their term this year have to be postponed till the terms of others end. Or else, the elections to the other councils have to be advanced to this year.
The idea to advance the elections to this year does not enjoy cooperation from a few Chief Ministers, according to political sources. Without the Chief Ministers’ consent, a PC cannot be dissolved. Then, the option is to postpone the elections due this year. Yet, it is legally challenging to do so once the terms expire. As such the government and others concerned are pondering on options available.
Amidst such closed-door contemplations on the election, the political parties concerned have been strategizing for the elections. Among them, the Joint Opposition, the main political force oppositional to the government, is mapping out its strategies. Some of its MPs have already expressed willingness to resign from Parliament to contest the polls as CM candidates.
In Sri Lanka, there is a tradition of parliamentarians resigning their seats to seek the top office of the PCs. That happens mostly when their parties are in the opposition in need of formidable candidates to pose a challenge to the government party which virtually enjoy comparative advantage due to having access the state machinery to be used in electioneering in one form or the other, according to the election system.
In the past, it happened frequently. On one occasion in 1998, Former CM of the NCP, the late Berty Premalal Dissanayake resigned from his Cabinet post and contested at the election. So did CM of Sabaragamuwa PC Mahipala Herath.
During the previous government, then UNP MP Dayasiri Jayasekara resigned from his MP post to contest the election to the North-Western PC under UPFA ticket. He won the election with a record number of preferential votes. Likewise, UNP MP Harin Fernando resigned and contested the Uva PC polls. Though he could not ensure the victory to the UNP at the elections, he succeeded in increasing the vote base of the party, which had eroded drastically at that time. For the UNP, crestfallen after a series of electoral defeats, it served as a morale booster. After the Uva elections, the UNP rekindled its hopes of winning future elections .
The JO or the Mahinda Rajapaksa faction wants early elections, be it the local authorities’ election or the PC elections. It has already gone to elections. It has vowed to prevail upon the government to declare polls to the PCs once their terms expired this year.
The UNP is not in favour of conducting the elections to the North Central and Sabaragamuwa PCs first. Along with these two councils, the UNP prefers the inclusion of a few others for elections. For that purpose, it will see the possibility of securing the consent of CMs ready for the premature dissolution of their councils. For the time being, the CMs of the Northern and Uva PC are against early dissolution of their councils.
President advocates PC elections on the same day
The UPFA section led by President Maithripala Sirisena has also suggested that the elections should be conducted together on the same day. The terms of some councils such as Uva will expire only in 2019. Until, such time, the President’s UPFA wants a postponement of elections to others.
The Cabinet Ministers, representing the UPFA, met with the President on Wednesday for a discussion on the way forward for the party. The President said his party had a bright future ahead as a political force not tainted with allegation of corruption and frauds.
Basil, Nimal, John hold talks
A photo depicting former Minister Basil Rajapaksa in conversation with Ministers Nimal Siripala de Silva and John Seneviratne went viral in the internet media. He happened to meet them at the funeral of Minister Seneviratne’s mother in law in Pelmadulla.
They had a normal conversation. Basil Rajapaksa said there was no focus on politics. John Seneviratne’s mother-in-law had been a local government member in Kolonnawa at one point. She was politically victimized with her house burnt down after the 1977 elections. Then, she moved to Ratnapura. Her funeral afforded a meeting opportunity for politicians of all hues. They casually conversed about current affairs in the country. Ratnapura district MP Janaki Wakkumbura remarked to Basil Rajapaksa that the Ruwanpura expressway would end at Pelmadulla near Minister Seneviratne’s residence if constructed. However, the project is now on hold under the new government.
Akila, Dayasiri clash in Cabinet over appointment in education sector
Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara and Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam had a showdown at Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting over the appointment of the North-Western Province Director of Education.
Provincial Governor Amara Piyaseeli Ratnayake had requested the Chief Secretary to send the name of the seniormost official in Sri Lanka Education Administrative Service to be appointed to the post. However, Minister Kariyawasam had intervened later by appointing a committee to recommend a different name. In fact, the letter of appointment had also been sent. He charged that Minister Jayasekara was trying to post an SLFP loyalist. He countered that saying the official he stood for was the senior most one and a political person. Instead, he said Minister Kariyawasam had acted to appoint someone who worked for the UNP at the last parliamentary election.
President cancels Akila’s appointment
Amidst such wrangling, Minister Jayasekara complained of this to the President and asked him to intervene against the Minister’s purported interference in the provincial education affairs.
“Sir, this is the exclusive preserve of the PC. The line minister has nothing to do with it. You should stop it,” he told the President.
The issue came up at the Cabinet meeting. The two ministers hurled accusations at each other on political favouritism.
The President took Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara’s complaint seriously. After some inquiries, he decided to cancel the appointment forthwith.
UNP to create three new posts
The UNP had its Working Committee meeting last week. There, the party discussed the possibility of creating three posts probably as the assistant leaders. Ministers Ranjith Madduma Bandara, Sarath Fonseka and Mangala Samaraweera are tipped to be appointed to these posts.
Mahinda, Gota, GL watched Aloko Udapadhi
Last week, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, his brother and former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and former External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris enjoyed watching the famous movie “Aloko Udapadi”. For Prof. Peiris, he watched it for the second time in fact. It is a film woven around the Chola invasion of Sri Lanka in ancient times. At that time, 24,000 Buddhist monks were assassinated. That was the context in which Tripitaka was written in Ola leaves. Until then, it was passed from teacher to pupil through oral tradition. The clergy gave mind to do so due to uncertainty of life at that time. After watching the movie, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa remarked, “There is a historical pattern in events. Even at that time, a Sinhalese promised to ensure the support of people to Chola invaders if he were made the viceroy!.”
He also referred the fall of the Kandyan Kingdom in 1815 when the chieftains turned against the king enabling the British rulers to conquer.