The SLFP would not contest the presidential poll and instead would support Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, notwithstanding its stance maintained up to yesterday that it would never join the SLPP unless it agrees to change its pohottuwa symbol (budding lotus flower), the Daily Mirror learns.
The SLFP also said the party would contest the presidential poll separately protecting its dignity, self-respect and integrity if the SLPP did not consent to its humble demand to choose a different symbol acceptable to both parties, as the SLFP could not ask their supporters to vote for pohottuwa.
However, Senior Vice President of the Sri Lanka Freedom Graduates’ Association, (SLFGA), former Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya said yesterday they would support SLPP presidential candidate, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa as he is the most suitable candidate for the SLFP to support and added an SLFP Central Committee meeting scheduled for last night chaired by President Maithripala Sirisena was to accept SLFGA ‘s request to campaign for the SLPP candidate.
He told media that the SLFP had four options under the prevailing political situation, whether to remain neutral and uncontested, fielding a candidate from the SLFP, support the UNP candidate or support the SLPP candidate.
“The SLFP did a big blunder at the PC polls in 1988 and asked our voters not to vote. It proved later that remaining neutral was a big set back for the party and we don’t want to make the same mistake once again. Though our best candidate is President Sirisena he is not ready to contest and it is obvious that the SLFP cannot win the election. If SLFP contests separately, it will divide voters in the progressive forces. Under no circumstances, could the SLFP support the UNP candidate as we have bitter experiences with the Yahapalana government that reminds us of the Central Bank bond scam, various harmful agreements with foreign countries and its harmful foreign policy. We chose the last option we have, which is to support the SLPP candidate Gotabhaya Rajapaksa because he represents the progressive and patriotic forces in the country,” Mr. Siyambalapitiya said.
Policy-wise, ideology wise and ruling method wise, there is not much difference between the SLFP and the SLPP. Therefore, we have no problem to support Mr. Rajapaksa. But it is extremely vital that both parties must realise the challenges and responsibilities before us. The SLPP must also accept that Mr. Rajapaksa cannot obtain 50+ votes to register an absolute victory without the support of the SLFP, Mr. Siyambalapitiya said.
At the February 2018 local government polls, the SLFP could not draw 50% votes and won only four districts with over 50% + votes and as such it is quite clear that if Mr. Rajapaksa is to achieve 50% votes to be elected at the first round, the SLFP’s support is crucial.
Asked as to why the SLFP does not support JVP’s candidate Anura Kumara Dissanayaka if it wants to support progressive forces, Mr. Siyambalapitiya said Mr. Rajapaksa is the most amicable candidate among the lot for the SLFP to support.
National Organiser of the SLFGA, Budhika Iddamalgoda said as the intelligent and educated group of the SLFP, the SLFGA was of the view that the best option was to support the SLPP candidate. (Sandun A. Jayasekera)