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Politics


 

Bridging the great divide

One might say it was like bridging the great divide when deposed Minister and Convenor of the SLFP (Mahajana Wing) Mangala Samaraweera met with Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe last Thursday (28) to talk about the formation of a ‘grand alliance’ to save the country from the clutches of the Rajapaksa family.

Their past has been acrimonious to say the least, Samaraweera never spared Wickremesinghe during his political and media briefings, and Wickremesinghe has ever held himself apart from the likes of his new-found ally, by refusing to be drawn into petty street battles, thereby dishing out the most grievous insult to Samaraweera. Wickremesinghe was almost always at the receiving end of Samaraweera’s scathing public verbal attacks, which often ranged from the ‘treachery’ of colluding with the Tigers to comments about his personal life which would make even a sailor blush.

But politics, as they say, makes for very strange bedfellows. And the time has come, Samaraweera said at Thursday’s meeting, “to look past the differences between them and focus on the positives.” Wickremesinghe seemed more than willing to do so and welcomed Samaraweera with a hearty handshake and a warm smile. The two held discussions for a little over 30 minutes, during which Samaraweera handed over his policy document ‘sihinaye abhiyogaya’ or ‘Dare to dream – towards a new Sri Lankan Order’ to Mr. Wickremesinghe for his perusal. The two groups also decided to appoint a committee to study the document and analyse the feasibility of the UNP and the SLFP (M) coming together to take on the incumbent administration.

Speaking at Thursday’s precursor to the discussion, Wickremesinghe said that the SLFP was almost extinct since the party as almost entirely in the clutches of a single political family. “It is necessary to bring democracy back into the SLFP and lift the country out of this current anarchic state,” the UNP Leader said, adding that he would consider allying with Samaraweera and Co. on certain issues towards the betterment of the country.

The meeting which was held at the UNP Leader’s Cambridge Terrace private office, was also attended by UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake and Party Chairman, Rukman Senanayake, Coordinating Secretary of the SLFP (M), Sripathi Sooriyarachchi and Managing Director of the Mawbima group of newspapers, Tiran Alles.

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