There is the likelihood of the SLFP joining hands with left-leaning forces and contesting the presidential separately in the event the talks with SLPP fails, SLFP General Secretary, MP Dayasiri Jayasekara said.
He told a news conference that the SLFP’s presidential candidate would most probably be President Maithripala Sirisena with his candidacy being unanimously approved by the party’s Central Committee.
He said the SLFP believed that the SLFP and the SLPP could continue with the talks to form an alliance to face the UNP but the stumbling block was the SLPP sticking to its 'Pohottuwa' symbol instead of a common symbol.
“Political alliances or coalitions have been formed in the past after the constituent partners had agreed on the policy, programme and strategy and a common symbol. But sadly the SLPP is not ready to accept our programme and a symbol other than that of the betel leaf or Pohottuwa,” the MP said.
He insisted that as long as the SLPP was not prepared to agree to a symbol acceptable to the SLFP, it was not possible for the SLFP to enter into an alliance with the SLPP.
“We must listen to our grassroots level SLFP organisers, voters, Pradeshiya Saba members. We cannot betray the trust placed on us by our voters. If we join the SLPP, we must do it with dignity and self-respect. We cannot do so simply because it has a bigger vote base. But what the SLPP must keep in mind is that no candidate will be able to win without the support of the SLFP. That is definite,” the MP said.
Responding to a journalist, Mr. Jayasekara said under no circumstance would Kumara Welgama get the SLFP ticket to contest the presidential election.
“It is true that Mr. Welgama is back at the SLFP. That is after a long journey with the SLPP against the SLFP and becoming the SLPP district organiser of Badulla. Besides, I cannot understand how he opposes Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s candidacy while worshipping Mahinda Rajapaksa. Therefore, I assure you that Mr. Welgama will not be the SLFP presidential candidate. We still maintain that President Sirisena will most likely be the SLFP candidate,” the MP said.
To a question asked by the Daily Mirror, the MP said there was a cloud over the legitimacy of Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s candidacy with constitutional and legal challenges and it was his responsibility to clear all doubts on nomination day during the time allowed for objections after submitting nominations. (Sandun A Jayasekera)