Rise and fall of the ‘War-Victory’ situation

7 May 2014 07:06 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Ahead of an early presidential election, the political scene is witnessing new developments, and some of them have been designed in conformity with the current political realities.  The euphoria generated by the 2009 war victory, propelled the ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) to the zenith of political authority. But, this ecstasy has subsided with the passage of time, and the other issues have started taking their toll on the government. The political parties, both within the government and the opposition, have now resorted to devise political strategies accordingly.

UNP bracing for Uva poll


Amid such talks about the Presidential Election, the United National Party (UNP), the main opposition, has initiated a dialogue with Ven. Maduluwave Sobhitha Thera, to formulate a common agenda to be presented before voters at the election with the support of all the parties with ant-incumbency feelings.
One such dialogue was conducted at Ven. Sobhitha Thera’s Naga Vihare in Kotte last week. The abolition of the executive presidency, the evolution of an electoral system, based mostly on the First-Past-the-Post system and the reintroduction of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution is to constitute such a common approach.  After the meeting, Ven. Sobhitha Thera sought an appointment with Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) for a discussion.

"The NFF calls for a new constitution which, it says, is needed to counter what it called ‘emerging new Eelam operations’. The resolution says, “Although Sri Lanka has been able to defeat LTTE terrorism"



However, the party has not yet confirmed a date for it, given its busy schedule of work on other political commitments.  Later, the dialogue will continue with the other parties such as the Tamil National Alliance (TNA).  Ven. Sobhitha Thera, a Buddhist monk with liberal political views, as things stand today, will come forward as a common candidate only if the parties in the opposition are united for a specific target.  In this effort, the support of former President Chandrika Bandaranaike is also sought.  But, it is unlikely that the JVP will openly be a part of a political movement with the UNP this time though they were together for the candidacy for former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka at the 2010 election.  The JVP leaders have already pronounced their stand in this regard. There are aspirants for the presidency within the UNP as well. Therefore, it will not be an easy task to unite all the political forces in the opposition for a common goal. Anyway, talks will continue, either in the open or behind the screen, because some parties, including the JVP and the TNA, want to unseat the present regime at any cost.
The Uva Provincial Council Election, planned for September, will be followed by such a major election. So, the UNP is bent on positioning itself well at this election. The UNP will undergo a major membership drive in the province from May 10 to 12.

Party’s Badulla district MP Harin Fernando has expressed his consent to be the chief ministerial candidate at this election. But, he made it conditional to the fulfillment of some obligations.  Harin Fernando, a young MP, has put forward conditions to the party hierarchy.  The unity between factions in the party is key among them. Also, it is rumoured that a ruling party member of the Uva Provincial Council is expected to join hands with the UNP on May 10, giving a fillip to the party’s membership drive.
Meanwhile, around 20 UNP MPs visited Hambantota for a protest on May 3 over the attack on five of its parliamentarians in the area earlier. All the members boarded the bus hired for the purpose near Sirikotha (party headquarters), and headed towards Hambantota.  Tennakoon Nilame, the newly appointed opposition leader of the Southern Provincial Council, had arranged morning tea for the MPs at his Ambalantota residence.  He hosted the members with Kiribath and Kurahan Helapa ( local sweetmeats). After tea with sweetmeats, they rushed to the Hambantota police station and registered their protest over the failure to arrest the culprits involved in the incident.  The group had their lunch at a restaurant in Tangalle and proceeded to Colombo for evening tea at a house in Kottawa .

The Party’s General Secretary Tissa Attanayake, on board the bus, gave a detailed account of Hambantota Mayor Eraj Fernando who openly brandished a pistol at the visiting UNP MPs the other day. In fact, Attanayake said, Mr. Fernando was an active UNP member during the 2005 Presidential Election.
“Eraj used to hold a large green balloon near every UNP stage during the election campaign at that time. Later, he defected from us and joined the government,” Attanayake   added.

"There are aspirants for the presidency within the UNP as well. Therefore, it will not be an easy task to unite all the political forces in the opposition for a common goal."



MP Gayantha Karunatilake who listened to this story remarked that Eraj Fernando had now started politically deflating the government through his unlawful actions.
After Hambantota, the UNP is planning to do a fact finding mission on the Norochcholai coal power project, another main development work of the government.

NFF


National Freedom Front (NFF) led by Housing Construction and Engineering Services Minister Wimal Weerawansa , is now engaged in a task  to carve out its niche in  a better political format . The party held its annual convention last Monday and passed resolutions to be sent to President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The NFF calls for a new constitution which, it says, is needed to counter what it called ‘emerging new Eelam operations’. The resolution says, “Although Sri Lanka has been able to defeat LTTE terrorism; she has failed to take decisive and meaningful political and constitutional measures to defeat separatism and racism. Hence having been convinced properly of the emerging new Tamil Eelam operations at present; a new draft constitution has to be placed before the people ensuring the territorial integrity of Sri Lanka, national reconciliation, good governance, widening of the democratic rights of the people. The new draft constitution after due dialogue with the people and incorporating the necessary changes in consequence to such dialogue, actions should be taken to transform it into the supreme law of Sri Lanka and for this purpose it is proposed in this National Convention that the recommendations placed before the country by the Buddhist Renaissance Committee should also be taken into consideration.
For the first time, NFF, as an ally of the government is opposed to South Africa’s role in the reconciliation process here.

NFF shuns trade pact with India, but advocates it with China



This is a party opposed to the proposed trade agreement with India as it believes that Sri Lanka has been a loser in trade with that country under the existing Free Trade Agreement though the bilateral trade volume has grown exponentially.
Yet, the party is advocating the proposed Free Trade Agreement with China, even passing a resolution at the National Convention.
Interestingly, the party calls for the implementation of the death penalty against those convicted for grave criminal activities including drug peddling.


Motion against JJ still in Order Book


Seventy seven government MPs signed a motion and handed it over to the parliamentary authorities seeking a probe into the conduct of UNP MP Dr. Jayalath Jayawardane when he was alive. The allegation against him was that he instigated the pro-LTTE Tamil Diaspora members for a protest against President Mahinda Rajapaksa when he went to address the Oxford Union in December, 2010. At this  time, Dr. Jayawardane was in Europe. The President had to cancel his address due to security concerns, and the government took Dr. Jayawardane to task in Parliament later over this accusation. Ruling party members even manhandled him, and tried to assault him. The MP sustained scratch injuries.  The government handed over a motion after that, seeking a parliamentary probe.

Dr. Jayawardane passed away last year. Yet, funny is the fact that the motion against him has not been removed from the Order Book. Recently, UNP MP Ranjan Ramanayake called it a parliamentary joke. The government faulted the Secretary General of Parliament for this mishap. However, Secretary General   Dhammika Dissanayake said only the MPs who signed the motion should take the initiative to remove it. He informed the Office of the Leader of the House on the matter. Only if the signatories to the motion make a written request, can it be withdrawn from the Order Book.

Bandula perplexed over high demand for technical stream


Education Minister Bandula Gunawardane was in a dilemma when he noticed the unprecedented demand by students to do their Advanced Level studies in the newly introduced technical scheme. Given the timely relevance of subjects, and easy access for university admission under this scheme, students, encouraged by their parents, have taken an increased interest in selecting this section. But, the facilities are available only at 250 schools.  The demand has doubled compared with the last time. Also, there were requests from MPs representing different areas to provide facilities for the teaching of technical scheme subjects at schools in their electorates.

So, the Minister took it up with President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Monday. The President instructed the Minister to increase facilities for such studies at these 250 schools to enroll more students, rather than increasing the number of schools offering this stream at the moment.


Muslim MPs shun Azwer and Abdul Cader


The Muslim MPs , across the political divide , sought an appointment with President Mahinda Rajapaksa to discuss issues concerning their community . However, two government MPs- A.H.M. Azwer and Abdul Cader- did not sign this letter. Therefore, they have earned the wrath of other Muslim members.
Abdul Cader said there was no need for him to seek special appointments with the President as a ruling party member.
“If I want, I can go and talk to him straight. If there is any problem against Muslims, I will not hesitate to talk to him,” he said.
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