SLFP to announce National
Plan to rebuild nation
- Govt. ministers aim at Uva landslide
- SLFP to return to `hand’ symbol
- Lacklustre UNP campaign in Uva
- TNA draws up new devolution proposals
General Secretary Maitripala Sirisena told a Press briefing in Colombo
last Tuesday, that several political decisions taken for the good of the
entire country, which underline the concept of rebuilding the nation,
would be announced at the SLFP’s 19th anniversary national convention to
be held in Colombo on September 1.
About 6000 delegates from party branches countrywide are expected to
participate in this convention, which will be held at the Sugathadasa
Arrangements are also underway to adopt at the convention, a national
political agenda carrying among other things a National Plan for the
The incumbent UPFA government comprises the SLFP, LSSP, CP, MEP,
Jatika Nidhas Peramuna, 16-member UNP dissident group, CWC, Upcountry
People’s Front, SLMC dissident group, JHU, TMVP and several other
parties and groups.
However, it is inevitable that the UPFA will face a host of problems
when it contests elections as an Alliance. Besides, the fact that the
constituent parties have taken different stands on a solution to the
national problem, has made it difficult for President Mahinda Rajapaksa
to work out a viable solution. For instance, when the LSSP and CP
advocate devolution of power, JHU, and Jatika Nidahas Peramuna advance
views diametrically opposed to the concept of power devolution.
President Rajapaksa as a result, now feels that the UPFA as an
alliance is not strong enough to hold together too many parties with
divergent views, and it is feasible to contest future elections under
the `hand’ symbol. This means that every constituent party of the
coalition government will be required to contest under the `hand’ symbol
placing themselves on a bind to observe the policies that the party
symbol stands for. In fact, President Rajapaksa had pointed out at a
recent meeting of the SLFP Central Committee, that the coalition
partners could contribute towards forming a strong and stable government
by contesting under the `hand’ symbol, and explained that they could do
so without prejudice to their party identity.
The CWC led Arumugam Thondaman, SLMC led by Rauff Hakeem, and Mano
Ganesan’s Democratic People’s Front contested under the `elephant’ at
the last Parliamentary general elections. Of them, the CWC which
contested under the `elephant’ is today a partner of the government
Citing this precedent, he has pointed out that it will be no problem for
coalition partners of the government to contest under the `hand’ symbol.
“ If any constituent party of the government has any reservations
about contesting under the `hand’ symbol, they could join the alliance
government after successfully contesting under their own party symbol”,
an SLFP Central Committee member pointed out. “The coalition partners
successfully contesting under the `hand’ symbol will be required to
subscribe to the policies of President Rajapaksa.” In such a situation,
they will have to suitably adjust their rigid stands on certain issues,”
SLFP Central Committee member said.
Meanwhile, LSSP, CP, SLMP, Democratic Leftist Front and Desha Vimukti
Janatha Pakshaya have formed a political combine titled, ‘Samajavadi
Janatha Peramuna’. The leaders of this left combine had decided to field
7 candidates for six districts
on the UPFA list to protect the `left identity’. This alliance is
likely to field Vasudeva Nanayakkara (DLF) for Ratnapura, Deputy
Minister Chandrasiri Gajadeera (CP) for Matara, Weerasinghe de Silva
(LSSP) and A. Piyasiri (CP) for Galle, Ranjith Navaratne for Kurunegala,
Indika Gunawardena for Colombo, and an LSSP candidate who is yet to be
named for Kegalle
Meanwhile, Samajavadi Janatha Peramuna has taken the initiative to
take forward the final set of proposals of the APRC headed by Prof.
Tissa Vitarana to their logical conclusion. Accordingly, the Peramuna
has made arrangements to hold a series of talks and seminars across the
country to drive home to people the need to work out a lasting solution
to the national problem. The first of the planned series of seminars
titled ` Path to be taken after War’, was held recently at Maharagama.
CP leader Minister Dew Gunasekera delivered the keynote address at this
Lacklustre UNP campaign in Uva
With Uva PC poll only five days away, the election fever gripping the
province appears to have reached its peak. If statements being made by
government ministers from public platforms are to be believed, they are
quite sure of a resounding victory, but what they are aiming at now is a
It is also quite evident that President Mahinda Rajapaksa has been
taking an unusually keen interest in the Uva PC poll given the number of
propaganda rallies he has so far addressed in Moneragala and Badulla
A large number of government Ministers have pitched camp in the two
districts to carry out propaganda and forge a closer rapport with the
people at the grass roots level.
However, in contrast, the UNP’s election campaign in Uva has been a
dull, lackluster one from the very inception. The UNP leader Ranil
Wickremesinghe has addressed only a few propaganda rallies in Uva so
far. It has been party’s Deputy leader Karu Jayasuriya who has been
mostly visible on the on campaign trail. The UNP candidates in the fray
complain that some party MPs who have been appointed to provide
leadership to campaigning in various parts of the two districts, are in
the habit of quietly slipping off after showing their faces in their
respective areas briefly.
The JVP leader Somawansa Amarasinghe and party frontliners like
Tilvin Silva, Anura Kumara Dissanayake, and Vijitha Herath have been
making their presence felt in the two districts addressing propaganda
rallies and carrying out house-house canvassing.
National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa had been
addressing a series of meetings in support of his party candidates
contesting on the UPFA ticket in the two districts. He was also one of
the key speakers at propaganda rallies which were addressed by President
Rajapaksa. Wimal entertained the crowd at the UPFA propaganda rally at
Okkampitiya by singing Gunadasa Kapuge’s popular song ‘bimbarak senaga
Meanwhile, government leaders are also making preparations to face the
election to the Southern PC which is due to be dissolved on August 4.
UNP’s Matara leaders to defect?
There are indications pointing to a massive denudation of the UNP
vote base in Matara district, soon after the dissolution of the SPC,
government media spokesman Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena told a media
briefing in Colombo last week. According to him a group of UNP
heavyweights in the district, including party’s district leader and
former provincial Minister Justin Galappatti, former UNP MP Ranjith
Kumarage, and several Pradeshiya Sabha opposition leaders will cross
over to the UPFA this week.
The drawing up of the list of candidates for the Matara district has
in fact, set a poser to UPFA leaders, given the pressures from various
sections to accommodate their candidates on the UPFA district list.
Vying for places on the UPFA district list, in addition to candidates
nominated by the coalition partners, are supporters of UNP dissidents,
now Ministers Hemakumara Nanayakkara, Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena and
Mahinda Wijesekera, which makes the task of picking suitable candidates
very difficult, government sources said.
Sajin Vass Gunawardena, a co-ordinating secretary of the President,
now the SLFP’s chief organiser for Ambalangoda has already announced
that he would be contesting the upcoming Southern PC election. Close
associates of Gunawardena say that he is vying for the Chief Ministerial
post. This can be disturbing news to the incumbent Chief Minister Shan
Wijelal de Silva , a popular figure in the district, who has already set
out on the campaign trail.
Though the PC is yet to be dissolved, prospective candidates from all
major political parties have already begun sticking posters carrying
Meanwhile, NFF decision-makers led by Wimal Weerawansa met at their
party headquarters at Battaramulla last Wednesday to pick their
candidates for the Southern PC election.
The party decided to field Central Committee member and former PC
member Athula Priyantha Bellana for Galle district, former Pradeshiya
Sabha member Sarath Weerawansa for Matara district, and JVP’s former
Hambantota leader H.B. Dharmasena for the Hambantota district. Sarath
Weerawansa is Wimal’s elder brother.
Meanwhile, electioneering in Vavuniya and Jaffna too had been hotting up
The UPFA, UNP, TNA, EPDP, and PLOTE in the fray have stepped up the
campaign momentum, but no untoward incidents have been reported so far,
say election monitors.
TNA to submit new set of devolution proposals
TNA leaders including R. Sampanthan and Mavai Senadhirajah in
consultation with a group of leading Tamil academics and professionals
have drawn up a set of proposals to underpin a solution to the ethnic
problem in the country. The TNA leaders propose to discuss the proposals
with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other Indian leaders, for
the purpose of getting them to pressurise Sri Lankan government to
One of the proposals made by the TNA recommends that currently de-merged
North and East as two separate provinces be re-merged as one
administrative and political unit. The TNA had submitted this re-merger
proposal on a previous occasion too. When the Indian government inquired
from President Rajapaksa about this issue, the latter had explained that
the two provinces were separated on an order by the Supreme Court and he
did not want to interfere with a decision given by the highest court of
the country. However, the TNA is planning to submit the same proposal
along with others once again.
The TNA, among other things, is pressing for the right to
self-determination for Tamils in respect of their traditional homelands,
and also powers relating to land and Police as provided for in the 13th
amendment to the Constitution.
Though the TNA had asked for an audience with the Indian Prime Minister
to discuss the set of proposals, his office has informed them of his
inability to meet them these days, and asked them to meet External
Affairs Minister Nirupama Rao and India’s National Defense advisor
Accordingly a TNA delegation is due to visit New Delhi soon after polls
in Vavuniya and Jaffna.