UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and SLFP (M) leader Mangala
Samaraweera saw the fulfillment of their long cherished hope
when the UNP Working Committee approved the formation of the
Joint Opposition Alliance they had planned sometime ago.
The alliance proposal had to be placed on the back burner
for several months due to the strong opposition put up by a
section of the party’s Working Committee membership. When
the alliance proposal was first presented to the Working
Committee, an articulate section opposed it and later the
party leader had to settle for a Common Consensus instead of
a common opposition combine. The Committee had also decided
that the party symbol `elephant’ and the party colour
`green’ should not be abandoned under any circumstances.
Undaunted by initial setbacks, party leader
Wickremesinghe again placed the alliance proposal along with
its policy document ‘Dasarajadharma Pratipattiya’ before the
Working Committee when it met on October 5. However, no
objections were raised. The Working Committee gave its nod
for getting up an alliance with all anti-government parties
and groupings on this occasion.
When Ranil presented the `Dasarajadharma Pratipattiya’,
S.B. Dissanayake proposed that its adoption be held over for
further discussion to make amendments to it if need be.
However, the policy document was adopted with a majority
voting for it.
The Working Committee also approved naming the proposed
alliance as `The United National Alliance’.
The proceedings which so far remained placid suddenly turned
stormy, when Ranil Wickremesinghe proposed a new symbol and
a new colour for the new alliance.
Lakshman Seneviratne, Johnston Fernando, S.B.Dissanayake,
Joseph Michael Perera, Milroy Perera, K.N.Choksy, and Daya
Gamage who so far had remained quiet, vehemently objected to
the proposal and maintained that the `elephant’ symbol and
the `green’ colour should not be given up under any
circumstances. Ranil appeared surprised when a normally
quiet Choksy turned vocal to hold a brief for the retention
of the party colour and the symbol. Ranil once walked out in
a huff amidst the heated arguments.
Runil’s proposal runs into stormy weather
Ranil may have expected the Working Committee to approve his
proposal on the new colour and the symbol with no hiccups as
his loyalists formed the majority. But to his
disappointment, most of them had not turned up on this day.
The UNP leader later directed General Secretary Tissa
Attanayake to call for the explanation of the
absentee-members with a view to taking disciplinary action
The Working Committee also approved the proposal to appoint
Ranil as the leader of the United National Alliance (UNA)
and Tissa Attanayake as its general secretary. The Committee
also decided that the post of Treasurer too should be held
by an UNPer.
Torching of UNP MP Range Bandara’s house and party office
Burning down of UNP MP Palitha Range Bandara’s Chilaw
residence and party office was one of the main topics that
came up for discussion at this meeting. Range Bandara said
that the damage caused by this act of arson exceeded Rs.11
million. The Committee decided to set up a fund to
reconstruct the house and the party office. Ranil
immediately pledged a contribution of Rs.100, 000 towards
the fund. Mahanuwara District MP Abdul Cader donated Rs.
Founding of UNA anounced at media briefing
Addressing a media briefing held soon after the October 5
Working Committee meeting, UNP General Secretary Tissa
Attanayake announced that the UNA Pact will be signed within
10 days, and about 15 political parties and groupings are
expected to become its constituents.
The leaders of the UNA met at the UNP leader’s Cambridge
Place office the following day ( October) .Tissa Attanayake
and Mangala Samaraweera were the first to turn up. Ranil
Wickremesinghe showed up a little while later. Jatika
Sanwardhana Peramuna leader Achala Suraweera, Nava Sihala
Urumaya leader Sarath Manamendra and representatives from
the Democratic United National Front and the Lanka
Progressive Front were among the other participants.
SLMC straddling the fence
The SLMC which participated in the initial deliberations
over the founding of the Joint Opposition Alliance now
appear to be having second thoughts about joining the
A section of party seniors have put their foot down that
they should not team up with an alliance led by the UNP when
government’s victory at the upcoming General parliamentary
elections is a foregone conclusion. They have pointed out
that they would not be in a position to render any
worthwhile service to the Muslim community in the country.
Meanwhile, SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem has informed Ranil
and Mangala that they would not be in a position to join the
alliance until and unless the party’s Supreme Council grants
its approval. .
Hakeem holds confab with Tamil leaders
SLMC leader Hakeem held a powwow with leaders of several
Tamil parties at his Kollupitiya residence on October 3.
The objective of this meeting was to form a Tamil–Muslim
political alignment based on a common policy programme aimed
at achieving the aspirations of the minority communities.
EPRLF leader Sritharan, Democratic people’s Front leader
Mano Ganesan, PLOTE leader Dharmalingam Sidharthan and SLMC
Chairman Hashim Segudawood and General Secretary Hassan Ali
were among those who participated in the deliberations which
were focussed on the problems affecting both Tamils and
Muslims in the country. The participants had decided at this
meeting to draw up of a list of demands aimed at addressing
the main issues affecting the Tamil and Muslim people, to be
presented to the two main political parties in the country
and to discuss this document with the Presidential
candidates to be fielded by the two main parties.
They also decided to back the candidate who will make a
positive response to their demands.
The participants also decided to hold talks with TULF leader
V. Anandasangaree as well.
Tamil- Muslim combine, a ploy to support UNP?
Muslim political sources say that the proposed Tamil- Muslim
alliance is nothing but a ploy by SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem
to secure the Tamil- Muslim backing for the UNP-led alliance
at the forthcoming Presidential poll. “Stymied in his bid to
join the UNP-led alliance, Hakeem is planning to extend his
party’s support to the UNP through the proposed Tamil-Muslim
combine,” a Muslim political source said.
However, an SLMC spokesman said that the October 3
Tamil-Muslim talks were a great success and they propose to
have the next round of talks with TULF leader Anandasangaree
too attending it.
Meanwhile, both the Supreme Council and the Politbureau
of the SLMC were due to meet in special sessions last Friday
to discuss their stand vis-à-vis the two political
Karuna Amman–Pillayan feud exacerbates
The protracted feud between Minister Vinayagamoorthy
Muralitharan alias Karuna Amman and Eastern province Chief
Minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan has
reportedly taken a turn for the worse now
A protest campaign calling for the removal of a Mobile
Services Office set up by Chief Minister Pillayan at
Akkaraipattu, was staged by a group led by a leader of
Karuna Amman group Inayabharati. Karuna Amman followers who
staged a fast had also burnt tyres on roads.
Meanwhile, Hijra road running opposite the Kalmunai
Divisional Secretariat has been re-named after Amman group’s
deputy leader Vinayabharati as Bharati Mawatha. Amman group
has incurred the wrath of the Muslim community in the area
over this arbitrary act. The Pillayan supporters charge that
this road re-naming had been done to cause a rift between
the Muslims and Tamils. They say that the Karuna Amman group
is resorting to this type of arbitrary acts to undo what
Chief Minister Pillayan has done to foster harmony between
the two communities.
What JVP has in store
The results of the recently held PC polls are a clear
indicator to the fast waning popularity of the JVP. When the
JVP contested the last Parliamentary General elections with
the SLFP-led UPFA, they not only won 39 seats in Parliament,
but some of them also topped the UPFA preference votes lists
pushing candidates of other constituent parties down to
However, the JVP could win only two or three seats when they
contested alone at the PC elections. It was quite clear that
the JVP was destined to suffer a similar debacle at
yesterday’s polls as well.
A change of tactics
Convinced that they would not succeed gaining any political
power through elections, the JVP, in a bid to demonstrate
their clout, has now begun staging countrywide, protest
campaigns, fasts, Satyagrahas and strikes.
Under their new programme, a group of unemployed Ayurvedic
doctors is staging a fast-unto-death opposite the College of
Indigenous Medicine at Rajagiriya. The Inter-University
Students’ Federation staged a demonstration opposite the
Colombo Fort railway station obstructing traffic for over
four hours last Thursday. Thousands of home–bound city
workers among others were caught in the resultant traffic
snarl in the heart of the city. The JVP trade unionists
added insult to injury when they inspired a five-hour
lightning strike by railway workers causing train delays,
the same day. Unemployed graduates, teachers, educational
workers and students of several institutes of education also
participated in protest campaigns and demonstrations
inspired by the JVP last week.
JVP trade union leaders like Lal Kantha and Vasantha
Samarasinghe are now busy planning a wave of strikes and
protest campaigns to press a host of demands including a
wage increase in the run up to the upcoming Presidential
poll. Their objective is to cripple the essential services
such as railway, CTB, Petroleum products distribution,
electricity supply and healthcare delivery. The JVP trade
union leaders have instructed their trade unions to stage a
general railway strike on October 30 to give momentum to the
planned wave of strikes across the country.
War-crimes report to be tabled October 15
A report on war crimes alleged to have been committed by Sri
Lanka Armed Forces during the military operations, which has
been compiled by the US State Department under the direction
of a group of officials including former US ambassador to
Sri Lanka, now Assistant Secretary in charge of Asian
Affairs in the US State department Robert O Blake, is due to
be tabled before the US Congress on October 15.
Data for this report is said to have been collected from
organisations led by LTTE activists like V.Rudrakumaran and
from some NGOs active in Sri Lanka.
Meanwhile, the JHU started a campaign to collect one
million signatures for a petition to be sent to UN Secretary
General Ban Ki-Moon calling on him to hold an inquiry into
war crimes committed by the United States in various
countries in the recent past. This, of course, is a reaction
to the anti- Sri Lanka move by the US State Department.