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

SLFP 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 Indoor Stadium.

Arrangements are also underway to adopt at the convention, a national political agenda carrying among other things a National Plan for the country’s future.

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 coalition.
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 seminar.

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 landslide.

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 districts.
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 avidin…’
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 their pictures.

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 last week.
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 accept them.
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 M.K.Narayanan instead.
Accordingly a TNA delegation is due to visit New Delhi soon after polls in Vavuniya and Jaffna.