History was created yesterday when the Government held its May Day rally away from Colombo. The rally was held in Dehiattakandiya sans the usual processions. It was presided over by President Mahinda Rajapaksa with several senior Ministers and government parliamentarians in attendance.
The Government had originally planned to hold the rally in the Ampara town but security concerns forced it shift the venue to Dehiattakandiya where heavy security was provided by the Police and Army.
The main Opposition UNP, the SLMC and the JVP criticised the Government for converting yesterday’s May Day into a political issue by holding its main rally at Dehiattakandiya, a part of the Eastern Province, where elections are scheduled to be held on May 10.
Yesterday, for the first time on a May Day, the streets of Colombo were almost deserted. Public enthusiasm was nil but security was tight. International Labour Day was a low key affair on the whole in Colombo due to security concerns. The security alert in the city has been pronounced since the assassination of Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, a few Sundays ago in Weliweriya, Gampaha.
The main Opposition UNP did not have a May Day procession or rally for security reasons. Instead it held religious observances at the Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya with the participation of Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and several senior party leaders.
There were 11 rallies in Colombo of which two were organised by political parties, the JVP and a coalition of Left parties. The coalition of Left parties headed by the Sri Lanka Communist party commenced its procession at the Shalika Hall premises in Narahenpita and proceeded to the Kirulaponne playground where the rally was held presided by Minister D. E. W. Gunasekera.
Unlike in the past, the JVP did not have a procession but held a rally at the Colombo Town Hall grounds.
Nine trade unions also held their rallies at various locations in the city.