Following their defection from the Government, the 16 MPs of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) are now engaged in another struggle to secure the party secretary’s post and execute their future political plans.
The SLFP section that remained with the Government is now split down the middle following the defection of these 16 members. Actually, 25 others, who were absent during the vote of no confidence against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, still remain with the Government. They are ready to forge ahead with the Government under a new programme currently being designed through a committee appointed for the purpose. Agriculture Minister Duminda Dissanayake, who is widely perceived to be acting in connivance with the United National Party (UNP) on political matters, is among the 25 members.
The 16-member group tries to wrest control of the SLFP Central Committee, and sever political links with the National Unity Government in the formal sense. But, Minister Dissanayake remains an obstacle to it because he, as the General Secretary of the party, holds sway in party matters. As such, this group made representations to President Maithripala Sirisena prior to his departure for London to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) and requested the General Secretary to be replaced by someone whom they fancy.
The Joint Opposition, backed by the 16 –member SLFP group, is trying to deny two-thirds for the Government. In such an eventuality, the UNP-led Government would be handicapped in enacting come controversial legislations
The President was not averse to the idea. Yet, he remained noncommittal. Be that as it may, when the matter was raised at the last Central Committee meeting, he noted that the majority of the members were not in favour of the current party secretary. These 16 members also demand the removal of Fisheries Minister Mahinda Amaraweera from his post as the secretary to the SLFP-led United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA).
Unlike during the no confidence motion, it is difficult for the President to remain aloof in this instance. The President wanted to remove the Prime Minister initially. But, his hands were legally tied. So, he could not swear in a new Prime Minister despite wishing to. Therefore, he left it in the hands of those who mooted the idea of a no confidence motion. The motion failed eventually in Parliament. The President attributed the failure to those who brought it.
In his address to the media after the vote of the motion, the President virtually denied his direct involvement in bringing a no confidence motion against the Prime Minister. Instead, he said it was an idea, brought by the Joint Opposition, in collaboration with a team of SLFPers in the Government and a UNP faction which is distraught with the Prime Minister for being the party leader.
Therein, the President tried to absolve himself from any responsibility. He projected himself as a neutral observer. He avoided incurring any blame regarding this manner.
However, he has no means to act in the similar fashion when it comes to the removal of the SLFP Secretary and the UPFA Secretary. Here, he cannot be the neutral observer. They are, in fact, his direct appointees. The appointments were made on the eve of the General Elections in August, 2015, ostensibly to guide the outcome of the elections in his favour.
He has a greater role with regard to the appointment of the secretary to his party. Against this backdrop, the President is under compulsion to take a firm stand whether to remove the two secretaries, rather than remain a neutral observer.
Despite political manoeuvring and manipulations at the top, the SLFP rank and file have overwhelmingly rallied behind Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) acting under the obvious leadership of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
It is reported that local level organizers of the SLPP protest the accommodation of anyone from the SLFP at this juncture.
The SLFP and the SLPP confronted each other in the run up to the Local Government Polls on February 10, 2018.
The political leaders of the two parties were harsh on each other. For example, MP Dilan Perera of the SLFP unleashed a scathing attack on the SLPP in the fray. After the elections, the SLFP also worked jointly with the UNP to block the SLPP from forming administration in the local authorities where it did not win absolute majority.
Nonetheless, the political strategy is now different. The Joint Opposition, backed by the 16 –member SLFP group, is trying to deny two-thirds for the Government in Parliament. In such an eventuality, the UNP-led Government would be handicapped in enacting come controversial legislations such as the new Constitution and the Judicature (Amendment) Bill.
This seems to be the primary objective of the Joint Opposition at the moment. For that purpose, there are attempts being made to lure a few more SLFPers from the Government in addition to the 16-member group.
According to political sources, most of the SLFPers will quit the Government at the next stage. But, half a dozen of them will join hands with the UNP in view of future elections. Minister Dissanayake is one among them and tipped to team up with the UNP. Besides, the SLFP MPs representing the districts such as Kegalle and Moneragala are also among those planning to throw their weight behind the UNP.
shanaka Goonesekera Saturday, 21 April 2018 05:54
Spend another $100 million to treat the SLC bosses!
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