A group of SLFPers cheated the party by joining the SLPP soon after President Maithripala Sirisena sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and formed a government with opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Prime Minister, General Secretary of the SLFP, former minister Dayasiri Jayasekara said.
He asked whether abstaining in parliament and not voting in favour of the Budget 2019 was a bigger offence than the betrayal of the party on November 11, in which over 50 SLFPers joined the SLPP after the change of government on October 26.
Mr Jayasekara responded to the negative remarks made by certain joint opposition members on the position taken by the SLFP on the final vote of Budget 2019 last Friday and told media that there was no consensus whatsoever between the SLFP and the SLPP on the stance to be taken on voting on the budget. “In fact, it was a directive that came from our party leader President Sirisena.
It was quite obvious that the JO did not have the required numbers to defeat the budget because the UNP was supported by the TNA with 15 votes, and thereby ensuring an absolute majority for the government. More importantly, the defeat of the budget would have affected the expenditure heads of the Executive President as well.
The President’s Fund helps thousands of terminally ill patients financially; the Dengue Prevention Task Force, anti-drug and anti-narcotic drives, environmental protection programmes, the Presidential Task Force on Prevention of Chronic Kidney Diseases and many other people-friendly projects would have been stalled. Therefore, the SLFP decided not to vote against the Budget 2019. Not because of the love of the UNP government, but considering the negative repercussion on many national programmes initiated by the President,” MP Jayasekara emphasised.
However, if the SLPP or the JO could come forward with a clear cut strategy to topple the government democratically, the SLFP would be more than happy and extend its full support and blessings to the proponents without hesitation, he said. Mr. Jayasekara questioned the JO as to how it explains the obtaining of SLPP membership by a number of top SLFPers if abstaining from voting in parliament at the final voting of the budget was a big crime. If the 27 SLFP members who had abstained had voted against the budget, the government could have still won with its 119 votes. Commenting on the May Day preparations by the party, Mr. Jayasekara said a massive SLFP rally would be held at the Gampaha Town Hall grounds on May 1, and arrangements have already been made to make it an event that would showcase SLFP’s strength and popularity among voters.
The SLFP youth league, women’s wing, trade unions, all party organisations from the grassroots level to the top and members of district and electoral level branches have been geared up to participate the main rally in Gampaha in the thousands, he said. Mr. Jayasekara sounded alarm and his displeasure on vituperative comments made against President Sirisena by certain JO members and said if the mudslinging campaign against the SLFP and its leaders continued the SLFP would have to reconsider its position on the SLPP.
However, he noted that the discussions between the two parties with the aim of building a common alliance against the UNP were progressing smoothly. (Sandun A. Jayasekera)