In spite of SLFP’s pledge to support Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, it was unlikely that all voters who voted for the SLFP and UPFA at the local government polls in February 2018 would vote en-mass for Mr. Rajapaksa at the presidential poll, Parliamentarian Thilanga Sumathipala said.
He said it was unwise to contemplate that the nearly 1.5 million or more than 13% of voters who voted for the SLFP and the UPFA at last year’s local government polls would vote for Mr. Rajapaksa at this poll and added that the additional votes would be around one million to the SLPP after the SLFP joined the SLPP on Thursday.
Addressing the media at the weekly news briefing at the Centre for Transformation in Colombo, former Deputy Speaker Mr. Sumathipala said the protest by nearly 50 SLFP district and electoral organisers against the link between the SLFP and SLPP had no effect on the alliance led by the two parties.
“Yes, it is true that a section of the SLFP’s district and electoral organisers are not happy with the joining of the SLFP with the SLPP. But they don’t have any recognition among our voters and they cannot draw even 100 votes at the polls. It was a long time ago that people like former Kaduwela Mayor Buddhadasa joined the UNP. Those dissenting SLFPers kept away from the SLFP and did not attend to any party work for years,” Mr. Sumathipala said.
Responding to the Daily Mirror, Mr. Sumathipala said the announcement made by New Democratic Front’s presidential candidate Sajith Premadasa that he would hand over the responsibility of national security to former army commander, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, in the event of winning the presidential election, was a wise move on the part of Mr. Premadasa.
“I don’t think Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka has peers on the subject of national security or defence in the country. If he was appointed defence minister, I have no doubt that he will do a good job. I know Mr. Fonseka from my school days as he was a school mate of my brother. He is a gentleman by any means,” Mr. Sumathipala said.
Answering to another question by a journalist, Mr. Sumathipala said it would be advisable for Mr. Premadasa to keep a safe distance from Party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe because he has lost the confidence among not only UNPers but in the entire country.
“People don’t want to see Mr. Wickremesinghe as the Prime Minister anymore. He is a liability to the UNP. Mr. Premadasa would not get any benefit if he campaigns with him,” he stressed.
Commenting on the reported protest for the SLPP – SLFP alliance by SLFPs patron, former President Chandrika Kumaratunga, Mr. Sumathipala said her grudge was not against the alliance but against the Rajapaksa clan.
"Mrs. Kumaratunga does not want to see the Rajapaksas back in power. Her protest is not to the SLFP but to Rajapaksa,” Mr. Sumathipala said. (Sandun A. Jayasekera)