Jayakody denies rift over National List, says "I’ll remain with CBK"

By Shamindra Ferdinando
Minister Lakshman Jayakody Friday said that the opposition will never succeed in triggering a war of words between him and the PA leadership over the decision to exclude his name from the National List.

"I am a party man, I always will be," Jayakody told The Island adding that he was aware of opposition initiated moves to propel him to a big fight with the party leadership ahead of the October 10 general election.

"That will never happen," he said stressing that he will double his efforts in support of the ongoing election campaign.

The next electoral victory, he said will further strengthen the hands of President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga.

Jayakody has assured the president that he will remain in the campaign in the district.

Jayakody ruled out the possibility of he quitting the SLFP over the so-called National List issue. He said that there was no need for protests and demonstrations in support of him. "I don’t want road shows," he said stressing that like all other party seniors, he too, was determined to lead the party to victory. Jayakody said that he wanted to be a part of the PA’s victory celebrations.

The UNP and some other organisations had accused Kumaratunga of dropping Jayakody, the Minister of Buddha Sasana, Cultural and Religious Affairs and Speaker K. B. Ratnayaka to accommodate people like Varatharaja Perumal, the former Chief Minister of the North East province.

Jayakody rejected speculation that his omission from the National List has created a serious internal problem. There were no differences with the president, he said stressing that he will step up his election campaign and ensure that the party gets the maximum number of votes from the Gampaha district at the general election.

Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle and ex-MP and president Kumaratunga’s brother, Anura lead the PA and the UNP nomination lists in the Gampaha district.

Jayakody who joined the SLFP over four decades ago, said that he will never abandon the party. "I have been with the SLFP for 46 years," Jayakody, who held several key portfolios including the Defence and the Foreign Affairs, deputy ministry said.

"The opposition was trying to manipulate me," Jayakody said reminding that their efforts will fail because whatever they say, they will never succeed in triggering a row over the National List.

He said that the UNP, facing another defeat, has no alternative but to seek various ways and means of upsetting PA’s election campaign.

One of the few politicians who remained with one party for over 40 decades, Jayakody was nominated on December 17, 1980 as MP for Attanagalle after the then party leader Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike was expelled from parliament. The leadership had faith in me then, Jayakody said stressing that he has no intention of doing anything detrimental to the party now.

Jayakody said that he explained the situation to his supporters when he declared open a tube well project at Maradagahamula, Divulapitiya in the Gampaha district a few days. He said that he was compelled to reassure his people as there were attempts to manipulate him and others.

Jayakody said that good people never changed sides. "They don’t run away and join the opposition camp," he said. He said the party intends to campaign well and win the election. Problems, if there were any, could be tackled after that, he said.

An aide to speaker K. B. Ratnayake yesterday rejected claims that the veteran politician has been upset and angry over the party’s decision to drop him from the National list. Ratnayake himself was not available for comment.

Jayakody said that the same people tried to divide the party a few weeks ago when ministers Maithripala Sirisena and S. B. Dissanayake contested the post of the SLFP General Secretary. Dissanayake beat Sirisena to the post, Jayakody said pointing out that whatever the differences, Sirisena handled the situation very well.