Mahanuwara district MP A.R.M. Abdul Cader resigned from the
post of National Organiser for Muslim Affairs of the party
Abdul Cader has informed party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe
in writing that fielding SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem on the UNF
Mahanuwara district list on an arbitrary decision by the
party leadership, has deprived the party of a large number
of votes which the party would have otherwise received, and
in these circumstances he was resigning from the party
office of National Muslim organiser as he could no longer
function in that position according to his conscience.
Cader says that right along he had pointed out that fielding
three Muslims on the Mahanuwara district list would be
prejudicial to the ethnic harmony in the district, but his
reasoning was not heeded by the party leadership. He
explains had the UNF fielded only two Muslim candidates, the
Muslim voters would have marked one preference each for the
two Muslim candidates, and cast the balance vote for a
Sinhala or a Tamil candidate of the party. He points out
that the Sinhala and Tamil candidates have suffered a great
injustice due to Muslim voters casting their three
preferences, one each for the three candidates.
Of the four seats won by the UNF at this general election,
three have gone to Muslim candidates. The three winners are
Abdul Cader, heading the list, Rauff Hakeem trailing second
and A.H.M. Haleem, the fourth. The only Sinhala candidate
who succeeded in winning a seat by being the third on the
preference votes list is Lakshman Kiriella.
Now that his prediction as to what would happen if Rauff
Hakeem were fielded against his objection, had come true,
Abdul Cader, a Muslim leader, who has always been close to
Sinhala voters, is highly disappointed and disillusioned. He
has said in his letter that given this situation, he is
giving up the position of the party’s National Muslim
Organiser, but he would continue as a member of the party.
The UNP’s most senior Muslim leader, Cader had always stood
by the party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe during all internal
‘revolts’ against him by rebel groups. A businessman, Cader
had pocketed out large amounts to meet the party’s financial
Meanwhile, the new Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne last
Tuesday paid an official visit to Gampola, his main vote
base and his electorate of the past-the –post election days.
Incidentally, Abdul Cader is the UNP chief organiser for
Gampola. Cader made news and created a stir in UNP circles
when he garlanded his longstanding political rival, the new
Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne on the latter’s arrival in
Gampola on Tuesday.
Woos estranged partners
UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe is reportedly making a
determined effort to woo back to the UNF fold, Mano
Ganesan’s Democratic People’s Party, P. Digambaram’s
National Workers’ Congress and Mangala Samaraweera’s SLFP
(M) which split from the party combine over the National
List seats issue.
The UNF leadership conceding two National List seats to the
SLMC, after denying the DPF, NWC and the SLFP (M) at least
one seat each they sought triggered the issue.
DPF leader Mano Ganesan, who lost in the Mahanuwara
district, had looked forward to receiving a National List
seat from the UNF. Meanwhile, P. Digambaram, who
successfully contested on the Nuwara-Eliya UNF list too had
expected to get at least one National List seat from the
UNF. Both Mano Ganesan and Digambaram took Ranil
Wickremesinghe to task saying that the latter had reneged on
a promise to grant their parties at least one National List
seat each. Mangala Samaraweera too was highly disappointed
over the failure to concede them too a National List seat.
But he made no strong protest. It appeared that he had
decided to maintain a watchful silence over the issue after
accepting an explanation given by Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Meanwhile, Rauff Hakeem and Mangala Samaraweera started
negotiations with Mano Ganesan and P. Digambaram in a bid to
revive the crisis-hit UNF. They mediated in bringing about a
meeting between Ranil Wickremesinghe and the estranged
alliance partners. However, talks Mano Ganesan and P.
Digambaram had with Ranil Wickremesinghe crashed as the
disappointed duo refused to settle for anything short of the
promised National List slot. As by this time the UNF
National List MPs had been sworn in, Wickremesinghe had
requested Rauff Hakeem to ask one of his two National List
MPs to resign to give way for DPF leader Mano Ganesan.
However, Hakeem had turned down this request. So the crisis
over the UNF National List seats allocation continues to
deepen with no solution in sight.
The SLMC too, despite getting two National List seats from
the UNF, is not free from National List worries. It was
Nisham Kariappar who was initially intended for one of the
two seats. However, Hakeem, on second thought offered this
seat to a Congress candidate who was defeated in the
Kalurara district at the recent election. This has angered
the SLMC supporters in the East who last week staged a
demonstration in Ampara against the SLMC leadership.
UNP- SLFP (M) merger
Another political development that has become a moot point
in political circles is an invitation UNP leader Ranil
Wickremesinghe has extended to SLFP (M) leader Mangala
Samaraweera to enter the UNP fold along with his party
membership after offering him the party’s National Organiser
post. Samaraweera has responded saying that he is not averse
to such a merger, but he has to make a decision in
consultation with the party’s politburo. The SLFP (M)
politburo convened accordingly, met at the party
headquarters at Rajagiriya last Tuesday with 38 of the 40
members in attendance. UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe too
made a guest appearance at the meeting on the invitation of
Mangala Samaraweera. Wickremesinghe took advantage of this
occasion to explain to the politburo members present the
hassle he had undergone in picking candidates for the UNF
National List Parliamentary seats. He also promised to offer
a UNF National List seat to a candidate from the SLFP (M) if
a vacancy occurred. He also called on them to dissolve the
party for a merger with the UNP. “I do not anticipate an
immediate response to my invitation. You may discuss the
matter at length before coming to a decision,” he had said.
Mangala Samaraweera assured Ranil that they would make a
response after discussing the proposal at a special session
of the party’s Central Committee.
However, the majority of the SLFP (M) membership has
expressed their reservations about joining the UNP en masse.
These dissidents have pointed out that they would be only
adding to the present woes of a badly weakened UNP if they
entered its fold at this stage, and besides, they of the
SLFP (M) would not stand to gain anything worthwhile from
this move. Another group in the party has opined that there
would be no harm in joining the UNP provided that
Samaraweera was offered a powerful position in the party.
The SLFP (M) is expected to take a hard decision on this
during this week.
Meanwhile, it is learnt that a number of UNP frontliners
like Sajith Premadasa and Dayasiri Jayasekera have raised a
strong objection to a decision taken by party leader Ranil
Wickremesinghe to offer a key office of the party to SLFP
(M) leader Mangala Samaraweera once the latter’s party is
merged with the UNP.
Ranil- Sajith powwow
Ranil Wickremesinghe had called Sajith Premadasa to his
Cambridge Terrace office last Thursday for a discussion on
the proposed reorganisation of the party. Opposition Chief
Whip John Amaratunga and Kegalle district MP Kabir Hashim
and the Working Committee member Dinesh Weerakkody too were
associated with the party leader at these talks.
Wickremesinghe had at this meeting referred to the need to
fill the vacant posts of Deputy Leader and the National
Organiser of the party. Sajith Premadasa had at this stage
insisted that the right to elect by ballot the suitable
persons to all key positions in the party including that of
the Deputy Leader with the exception of the party leader be
given to the party members. “If I am to be given an office
of the party I should be duly elected to that position by
the party members,” he had said. However, the party leader
had made no reply.
Sajith has also asked the party leader to seek the views
of the party seniors such as Ranjith Maddumabandara,
Lakshman Seneviratne and Talatha Atukorale regarding the
During Thursday’s Cambridge Terrace discussion, Ranil
Wickremesinghe had asked John Amaratunga and Kabir Hashim to
work out what was described as a ‘concept paper’ on reforms
including the criteria for appointment of persons to key
positions in the party.
JVP to continue
The JVP has decided to continue to function under the banner
of the DNA led by General Sarath Fonseka. They will,
accordingly, contest all elections in the future under the
‘Trophy’ symbol, said JVP MP Vijitha Herath.
The JVP politburo has decided to pursue their political
mission as the Democratic National Alliance along with
General Fonseka and his supporters, taking into
consideration the capabilities and the strength they
demonstrated at the April 8 general election. The politburo
has also decided that the party should win over various
sections of the body politic while carrying out politics on
a broad front.
Lacklustre May Day
The JVP made it a point in previous years to celebrate the
May Day on a grand scale with a colorful demonstration
followed by a massive rally. However, this year they have
dispensed with the usual colorful procession confining the
celebration to a rally at the Campbell Park in Colombo. The
obvious reason is that the party has become so effete, it is
not confident of drawing a good crowd.
The UNP too did not hold a May Day celebration this year.
Instead, they held a Bodhi Pooja at Dharma Sashtrodaya
Piriven Vihara in Piliyandala yesterday
The veteran leftist trade union activists say that the May
Day, once a mega event marked by revelry, colour and
grandeur, celebrated by political parties and trade unions
with much commitment attracting massive crowds to the city,
is no longer an occasion people attach much importance to.
According to them, the day is not far away when the May Day
becomes a thing of the past.
Nawalapitiya probe report
The SLFP Disciplinary Committee which probed the alleged
election- related violence in Nawalapitiya which led to the
nullification of results of 37 polling stations is expected
to hand over its report to President Mahinda Rajapaksa
Three Cabinet portfolios and two Deputy Minister positions
are awaiting the UPFA MPs elected from the Mahanuwara
district and they are expected to receive their appointments
soon after the President receiving the report of the
Disciplinary Committee. According to informed sources, the
Disciplinary Committee has not found any party politician
guilty in the absence of evidence pointing to the
culpability of any particular person or persons. Therefore,
there is nothing in the way of appointing as a minister any
of the eight of MPs elected from Mahanuwara, informed SLFP
The release of the overall result of the Mahanuwara
district was held back due to irregularities that marred the
balloting at 37 polling stations in Nawalapitiya at the
general election on April 8. A re-poll at these 37 polling
stations was conducted on April 21 and with the release of
the results of this re-poll the overall result of the
district was announced the following day. The SLFP Central
Committee which met with President Rajapaksa in the chair on
April 24 decided to hold a full scale inquiry into the
Nawalapitiya fiasco. Offering a portfolio to any of the MPs
elected from the district was held back pending the receipt
of the report of the Disciplinary Committee.
The SLFP Disciplinary Committee headed by attorney-at-law
W. Karunajeewa began proceedings last week. Attorney-at-law
Champani Padmasekera functioned as the secretary of the
committee whose other members were Saliya Mathew, Chandra
Fernando and Prof. Rohana Lakshman Piyadasa.
None found guilty
The Disciplinary Committee which met at the SLFP
headquarters recorded statements from the successful
contestants Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Keheliya Rambukwella,
S.B.Dissanayake, Dr. Sarath Amunugama, Eric Weerawardena and
Lohan Ratwatte and the other candidates. The Disciplinary
Committee later visited Nawalapitiya and made inquiries from
the Chairmen of Pradeshiya Sabha and the civil society
organisations there. Most of those questioned had denied
that there were any such irregularities as reported to the
election authorities. However, the Senior Presiding Officers
of some polling stations had reported certain incidents to
the Elections Commissioner. The results of the 37 polling
stations were nullified on the basis of such reports.
“However, the Disciplinary Committee has no authority to
question the election officials,” a senior SLFP member said.
Nevertheless, the Disciplinary Committee has found that
whipping caste differences, ‘manapa-pore’ and disharmony
among the UPFA candidates in the fray had led to certain
incidents. Keheliya Rambukwella, Dr. Sarath Amunugama and
S.B. Dissanayake are expected to be appointed cabinet
ministers and Mahindananda Aluthgamage and Faizer Musthapa
Meanwhile, CWC leader Arumugam Thondaman, who declined to be
sworn in as a minister on an earlier occasion, is expected
to take his oaths at an auspicious time ordained by a South
Indian astrologer during this week. The President has also
informed the LSSP that Prof. Tissa Vitarana too will be
appointed a minister.