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Fresh political challenge for MR after defeat

14 January 2015 06:32 pm - 4     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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 few days after his defeat, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa sent a team of his party’s MPs to meet with new President Maithripala Sirisena. The delegation included Western Province Chief Minister     Prasanna Ranatunga, former Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage, former Environment and Renewable Energy Minister Susil Premajayantha, former Foreign Employment Promotion Minister Dilan Perera and former Petroleum Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa .

They appealed to President Sirisena to contain post-election violence unleashed against their party supporters throughout the country. They noted that the members of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) which,  President Sirisena still claims to represent were harassed, and therefore it should be ended forthwith. 

President Sirisena paused for a while upon hearing it. In fact, he is a thoroughbred SLFPer who has remained with the party for over 40 years. By the time, he joined the Opposition to challenge Mr. Rajapaksa in the presidential race, he was the SLFP General Secretary.   Therefore, on the one hand, he could not accept his erstwhile party men being subjected to   violent harassments in the post-war context. On the other hand, he gave a solemn promise during his campaign to establish the era of compassion or what he called ‘Maitri Palanaya’.   Violence, in any form, cannot be condoned under such a concept.  Also, there is a pressing need for him to win over voters from the SLFP   to consolidate his political position for future electoral benefits. 

The SLFP delegation called the meeting with President Sirisena ‘fruitful’.  It became evident when President Sirisena addressed the Cabinet of Ministers sworn in by him the following day. He said he would not approve of violence against anyone. And, he vowed to implement the law strictly against those involved in the perpetration of political violence, both during pre and post election periods. 

In the immediate aftermath of the downfall of his government, the former President had to cope up with many a challenge in the political front. Along with the loss of presidency, he is now grappling with a political battle to retain his hold over the party. The challenge emerged after a team of SLFP MPs , who held various positions in the Rajapaksa government, turned against him after the election and joined hands with the new President.

In fact, this team had a separate meeting and passed a resolution to appoint President Sirisena as the new SLFP Chairman.  However, 42 out of the 55 member SLFP Central Committee are so far with Mr.Rajapaksa. But, the challenge persists     as many members of his party    continue to break ranks with him and close ranks with Mr. Sirisena. The challenge becomes more formidable for Mr. Rajapaksa as these post-election defectors vowed to form an SLFP-led government once again. Already, 48 members of the Rajapaksa government   have switched allegiance to the new government, and they even vow to capture the power of SLFP, excluding Mr. Rajapaksa.

For Mr. Rajapaksa who remained invincible with a cult of supporters surrounding him, the latest two pronged challenge took serious proportions.  
  
“I can stand up to any challenge.    As a seasoned politician, I can cope up with political setbacks.  But, there are some others unable to stand up to such challenging situations. They only switch sides as a result. But, their political journeys are short-lived.    Some of these defectors were so respectful to me that they sat on the floor when talking to me seated in a chair at that time. Now, they are the first to leave,” he told a meeting at the residence of Chief Minister Prasanna Ranatunga on Monday.

In the backdrop of this defeat, there were, however, calls from the members loyal to him, to enter Parliament on the National List right now. In fact, both the SLFP and the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) passed resolutions asking him to become an MP to lead the political cause afresh in the aftermath of this political setback. 

The UPFA Executive Meeting passed one such resolution on Monday. It was proposed by Western Province MP Udaya Gammanpila and seconded by former Power and Energy Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi.

However, Mr. Rajapaksa declined to accept it at this juncture. Instead, he is now planning to contest the parliamentary election to be declared after the implementation of the 100-day programme of the new government. 

The next general elections, likely to be declared in April, are slated to be politically challenging not only for Mr. Rajapaksa but also for the United National Party (UNP), the key ally of the new government.   It becomes so because of the SLFP breakaway faction now making public pronouncements that it would gain parliamentary power at that election    , and form yet another SLFP-led government.

It all now lies in the hands of President Sirisena who has the clout to determine in which direction parliamentary power should tilt after the next elections. It is true   the new President was elected with a bulk of votes from the UNP. But, if the new SLFP captures   the party power with the backing of the new President and goes to poll separately, there will be a three pronged fight. However, it is not yet certain how the President     will entertain the UNP in an electoral coalition at this election.  So, for the time being, uncertainty looms over the nature of political party participation at the next election. 




John Seneviratne visits Maitri
Former Public Administration Minister John Seneviratne paid a visit to President Sirisena at his residence in Colombo and congratulated him.  This gave rise to speculation that Mr. Seneviratne was also planning to team up with the new government.    Mr. Rajapaksa inquired about it from him at the UPFA Executive Committee meeting.

Mr. Seneviratne replied that he paid only a courtesy call as the new President was his next door neighbour.

“I just visited him and congratulated him. That is all. I do not intend to leave the party,” he told the meeting pacifying all concerned.  



 

Nandimitra Ekanayake tries to woo Prasanna Ranatunga 
Former Deputy Higher Education Minister Nandimitra Ekanayake supported Mr. Sirisena at the election. After the election, he has undertaken yet another mission - to lure SLFP members to the new government. In this effort, he contacted Western Province Chief Minister Prasanna Ranatunga, and asked him to join the political exercise aimed at making Mr. Sirisena the new SLFP chairman. 
Mr. Ranatunga flatly rejected it, and said he would not go against Mr. Rajapaksa at any cost.
“I am with the party. If Mr. Sirisena captures the power of the party, I will side with him. Otherwise, I am not involved in any conspiracy to capture its power,” he said. 
 

The SLFP delegation called the meeting with President Sirisena  ‘fruitful’.  It became evident when President Sirisena addressed the  Cabinet of Ministers sworn in by him the following day. He said he would  not approve of violence against anyone.



UPFA to lose PCs
The UPFA conducted the series of provincial council elections on a winning streak, barring the defeat at the election to the Northern Provincial Council. These election series ended with the conclusion of the election to the Uva Provincial Council Election, which it won with a narrow margin.
With the defeat of the presidential election, the UPFA is now likely to lose powers of all the provincial council elections barring the Southern Provincial Council in which members are strictly with Mr. Rajapaksa.

As the first setback,  the UPFA rule in the Uva Provincial Council has collapsed, as a majority of 17 members have submitted affidavits to Governor Saliya Mathew  pledging their loyalty to UNP member Harin Fernando. 

Likewise, closed door political operations are underway to capture the power of the Western, North Central, Central and Sabaragamuwa Provincial Councils at the moment.  The North Western Provincial Council fell automatically to the fold of the new government when its Chief Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara, with the backing of all the provincial ministers, pledged their support to it openly.   The power has already tilted in favour of the Opposition in the Eastern Provincial Council with the defection of Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC). 



TMVP in the lurch after MR’s defeat
Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulihal (TMVP) led by former Eastern Province Chief Minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pilleyan is in trouble in the Eastern Province after the loss of Mr. Rajapaksa at this election.

The party has complained to the police that its members were under attack in the province from the members of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA). 
Party spokesman Azath Moulana said,”We lodged several complaints with the police.  The police have advised us to avoid certain areas. We point the finger at ex- LTTE fighters who were rehabilitated and re-integrated into society.

“These ex- LTTE members now support the TNA. We are harassed now. Mr. Chandrakanthan is even unable to   visit his hometown Valaichchenai,” he said.


 

With the defeat of the presidential election, the UPFA is now likely to lose powers of all the provincial council elections barring the Southern Provincial Council in which members are strictly with Mr. Rajapaksa.





Sushma Swaraj calls Mangala
Soon after Foreign Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera was sworn-in,  he received a call from his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj who invited him to visit India on January 18. 

India observed this election keenly, and now looked enthusiastic about the election of a new government in Sri Lanka.       

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  Comments - 4

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  • mrmoney Saturday, 24 January 2015 07:19 PM

    CONGRATULATIONS !!! TO MR FOR WHAT : ? a mistake could be forgiven, but not well planed robberies. The assets of the people. Ruining the future of the younger generation, By borrowing loans from countries targeting to ruin the nations economy, at a higher interest rate? ALL THE DEVELOPMENTS WERE POSSIBLE DUE TO HIGH INTEREST LOANS.

    kumara kodippily Thursday, 15 January 2015 05:14 AM

    It is not recommended for MR to contest in North. In case , they really want to join UPFA later in the future , the saloon door should be opened to them.This way UPFA can reduce unnecessary expenditure, and focus on areas where they did not very well in last elections.Those who left him will come back to him at any time

    ELMO EBERT Friday, 16 January 2015 12:11 PM

    CONGRATULATIONS TO MR FOR ALL THAT HE HAD DONE TO THE COUNTRY AND ITS PEOPLE....NOBODY IS PERFECT..LETS LIVE BY THE POSITIVES....CONGRATULATIONS TO MS.....WE ARE CONFIDENT YOU,LL DO WELL.....CONTINUE THE GOOD WORK INITIATED BY MR.... DROP THE BAD....CREATE A NEW GENERATION...... SHOW THE COUNTRY AND ITS PEOPLE A NEW PARADISE........

    TONY Thursday, 15 January 2015 06:49 PM

    WHAT DID YOU SAY TO PEOPLE WHO CROSSED OVER TO YOU FROM OTHER PARTIES.. YOU ARE TASTING YOUR OWN MEDICINE


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