UPFA confident of ‘Mother of all PC victories’

“ Justification for the best ever showing at Southern PC Polls, Oct”- party sources

  • Ranil blamed for UVA defeat
  • “All UPFA candidates mine. No favourites”- President
  • JVP pins hope on Hambantota
  • TNA seeks Opposition support for Vavuniya UC

The crisis brewing in the dissention –wracked UNP has taken a turn for the worse, following the party’s humiliating defeat at the Uva PC polls. This became quite evident at the proceedings of the party’s Working Committee and the Political Affairs Committee held last Wednesday, which turned stormy as expected.

The party’s Political Affairs Committee was held at Sirikotha with Deputy leader Karu Jayasuriya in the chair. At the outset, Karu thanked Lakshman Seneviratne, Ravi Samaraweera and Ranjith Madduma Bandara for campaigning tirelessly for the party at the poll. He attributed the party’s defeat to the failure on the part of the government to hold the election democratically.

The Deputy leader’s comment appeared to be the signal for starting a post-mortem on the defeat by the party’s frontliners. Contradicting Karu’s comment, Rukman Senanayake who took the floor after Karu, put the blame for the defeat squarely on party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe.

The UNP, once a massive tree has come down to the size of a mango plant today. Following the Southern PC it will be reduced to the size of a weed stalk, said Rukman. He also wondered whether the UNP would be able to muster even 10 percent of the total vote at Southern PC poll.

Lakshman Seneviratne who spoke next charged that the party leader Wickremesinghe caused much damage to the party campaign, by announcing a wrong election date and distorting the history of Uva at the party’s propaganda meetings.

“It would have been better if he had not come to Uva at all,” remarked Lakshman Seneviratne.
Johnston Fernando, another vociferous critic of the party leader charged that Ranil had nominated people only loyal to him to the committee that was appointed to study the proposed Common Political Consensus and to submit recommendations to the party’s Working Committee. He proposed that Rukman Senanayake, Ranjith Madduma Bandara and Joseph Michael Perera to be appointed to this committee. Karu Jayasuriya promised to bring this matter up at the Working Committee due to meet later in the afternoon.
Karu also announced that Lakshman Wijemanne has been appointed as the party’s Kalutara chief organiser.

Dayasiri exits from Working Committee
The UNP Working Committee met at Sirikotha on Wednesday afternoon with Ranil Wickremesinghe in the chair.
Party’s Kurunegala District MP Dayasiri Jayasekera stole the show at this meeting when he announced his decision to resign from the Working Committee after making a speech charged with emotion.

Dayasiri’s resignation was as a protest against what he described as nominating a wrong person as the chairman of the UNP-held Kuliyapitiya Pradeshiya Sabha. to succeed the former UNP chairman who resigned to contest the Wayamba PC elections. He charged that the party had arbitrarily nominated a Pradeshiya Sabha member, known to be a friend of Akila Kariyawasam to this position. Dayasiri had pointed out that this move runs counter to a policy decision taken by the Working Committee to nominate the next person in the order of preference votes polled when such vacancies occur.

“The policies of the party are manipulated today to suit the whims and fancies of Sagala and Akila. This type of wrong-doings are spelling the doom of the party. My conscience does not allow me to function any longer as a member of the Working Committee,’ said Dayasiri before walking out of the meeting.

“You parade naked in politics. But don’t strip us naked”
Lakshman Seneviratne, speaking at length emphasised the need to announce the party’s Presidential candidate without further delay. ‘Who is going to be the UNP’s Presidential candidate? Is he Ranil? asked Lakshman. Before waiting for answer he said:” Those who think that Ranil Wickremesinghe as the party candidate can win, please raise your hands!” When none raised his hand, Lakshman turned to Ranil and said:” Do you now realize the sad position to which you are reduced today?”

Vajira Abeywardena who spoke next pointed out that it was not opportune for the party to announce the party candidate at this stage. ”Announcing our candidate at this stage is prejudicial to our campaigning in the South. It could affect our vote base,” said Vajira

“Ranil Wickremesinghe is our candidate. But this is not the ideal moment to make the announcement,” Renuka Herath said echoing Vajira’s viewpoint. A visibly emotive Johnston Fernando directly addressed the party leader: “You are destroying the party on a daily basis. The Presidential poll is only a few months away. Are you contesting or not? You have to take a decision now itself. You parade naked in politics. But don’t try to strip us naked. We can’t allow that to happen,” he said.

Johnston Fernando also reminded the party leader that the Political Affairs committee had taken several far reaching decisions. ”Please place them before this meeting. The Presidential poll is round the corner. Therefore, you cannot stall them any further.”

The atmosphere at the meeting became tense, when UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe in his reply to his critics charged that it was not he who was destroying the party, but the people who were pressing for reforms.
Taking exception to this statement, Johnston Fernando called on the party leader to withdraw his statement. Ranil in reply repeated his charge. :”It is not I who destroy the party, but you.”

Renuka Herath and Suranimala Rajapaksa began heckling Johnston who was berating the party leader, and this triggered a furor which marked an unceremonious end to the Working Committee meeting. Dayasiri was the first to walk out amidst the confusion, saying that he was not prepared to listen to a leader who was destroying the party.
Dayasiri Jayasekera had sent his letter of resignation from the party’s Working Committee last Thursday.

Truant Party heavyweights, Uva pulled up
“I know the party organisers who worked with dedication at all elections starting from the Eastern PC poll. I have also received reports about certain organisers who had slipped away after marking their presence on the campaign trail,” President Mahinda Rajapaksa told a meeting of SLFP organisers held at Temple Trees recently. The President added: “Those who had showed up just to mark their presence should know that they had failed to deceive the party, and they had only deceived themselves.”

The President further disclosed that he had come to know that certain PC and Pradeshiya Sabha members presuming that they were sure to get nominations to contest the elections, had played truant. “Remember, none who fail to pull their weight, will get nominations from the party,” President warned.

Southern PC poll early October- Presidential poll in January
Speaking next, the party’s General Secretary Minister Maitripala Sirisena said that the election to the Southern PC will be held early October this year, and the Presidential poll will be announced after November 18.
“We hope to hold the Presidential Poll in January next year, and dissolve Parliament soon after in January itself, to make way for the General Parliamentary elections to be held in March,” said Minister Sirisena.
“Government is planning to accelerate the development process after wrapping up all the elections before Vesak next year”, said Sirisena.

At this meeting, former DIG D.W.Prathapasinghe and President’s co-ordinating secretary Aruna Gunaratne received their letters of appointment as Matara District SLFP organisers.
UPFA general secretary Susil Premajayantha, Ministers Athauda Seneviratne, Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, Pavitra Vanniarachchi, Mahinda Ranaweera, Rohitha Abeygunawardena, Gunaratne Weerakoon, and Hemakumara Nanayakkara were among those who participated in this meeting.

A separate meeting with the SLFP organisers in the Southern province followed.
Meanwhile, UPFA general secretary Susil Premajayantha said that the party’s list of candidates contesting the upcoming Southern PC elections would be finalised within next week. “We have already picked our SLFP candidates. The UPFA candidates have to be finalised only after negotiations with the other constituent parties of the government coalition which are to field candidates,” Minister Premajayantha explained.
Coalition partners LSSP and the CP according to informed sources, propose to contest only in the Galle and Matara districts.

The LSSP has decided to field former test cricketer Ajith de Silva and Ven. Baddegama Samita Thera, a former MP on the Galle District list. Sri Lanka Communist party will field former PC Minister A.G.Piyasiri and former PC member G. Denetti on the UPFA’s Galle District list and former PC members Bindu Weerasinghe and Weerasumana Weerasinghe on the UPFA’s Matara district list.
Meanwhile, the UNP has appointed a Nomination Committee to come up with the party’s lists of candidates for the three districts in the Southern province.

UPFA confident of unprecedented landslide
Fresh from the unprecedented victory at the Uva PC elections where both UNP and the JVP suffered a humiliating defeat, there is soaring confidence among the government leaders, that the anticipated landslide at the Southern PC polls would be the mother of all PC victories. The UPFA registered a 72 percent vote in Uva, far in excess of what the party mustered at Sabaragamuwa, Wayamba, Western province and the Central Province. There is justification for the hope of the best ever showing at a PC election at the Southern PC poll to be held on October 10, a party spokesman said.

This general feeling found articulation when President Rajapaksa was addressing the SLFP organisers at temple Trees recently. “We all should make a concerted effort to record still a better performance in the South than the 72 percent victory we bagged in Uva,” President Rajapaksa told the organisers.
The President prefaced this address with a solemn expression of his thanks to the organisers who contributed their share towards the great victory.

“No `Mahinda Rajapaksa Special’ candidates contesting the South’
Speaking on the Southern PC poll, the President said:” I understand that most candidates in the fray in the South have already started electioneering. That’s very good. However, I understand that some candidates are carrying out propaganda saying they are my candidates. We have not nominated any special candidates as mine for the Southern PC election. I look on all UPFA candidates as mine. Please remember this well: I have no favourites among the candidates!” said the President.

The President was, in fact, reacting to complaints made to him by several ministers from the South that certain coordinating officers of the Presidential Secretariat who are to contest on the UPFA ticket, had been describing themselves as the `President’s candidates’ while campaigning.

The high-handed manner in which President’s coordinating secretary Sajin Vass Gunawardena in particular was carrying out his campaign in the South, had incurred the displeasure of several government ministers hailing from the South. Former Chief Minister Shan Wijelal de Silva, and Ministers Piyasena Gamage and Gunaratne Weerakoon had complained to the President that Vaas Gunawardena was conducting propaganda meetings in their areas without informing them – a courtesy they were entitled to. “He is parading in our areas misusing a fleet of government vehicles as if to demonstrate the political clout he had drawn from the President himself,” aggrieved ministers had told the President.

The ministers from the South had also said that Sajin was going around escorted by a team of MSD security personnel, whom he had obtained saying that he was facing a security threat. He had helicoptered to certain areas from Colombo as a ploy to impress on people that he was President Rajapaksa’s choice of the Chief Minister, they had said. However, the President’s `I have no favourites’ speech made at the SLFP organisers meeting has given some sense of relief to the aggrieved ministers.

JVP looks for ‘consolation showing’ at Hambantota
The JVP which too suffered a series of humiliating defeats in a row, now looks forward to a `consolation showing’ in the Hambantota District .The fact that they are running the Tissamaharama Pradeshiya Sabha and their late founder-leader’s home town being Tangalle, has gone a long way in strengthening their hope of a much better performance in Hambantota.

Opposition support a must for TNA to run Vavuniya UC.
The TNA (Ilangai Thamil Arasukachchi) took the Vavuniya Urban Council winning five seats of a total of 11 seats. Of the remaining six the PLOTE has won three, UPFA two and SLMC one. This means the TNA is dependent on the support of the opposition to run the administration. Meanwhile, TNA MP Sivanathan Kishore says that their party had decided to run the Council with the co-operation of other parties. Thanks to LTTE being no more, Ilankai Thamil Arasukachchi is free to work with other parties conforming to democratic norms.