A fresh bid to accommodate JVP in UNP-led alliance
An influential section wants to prevent split in Opp. Alliance

In the wake of Monday’s arrest of defeated Opposition presidential candidate, General (retd) Sarath Fonseka on conspiracy charges, the SLMC and the Western People’s Front (WPF) are vigorously pushing for an electoral pact, which can accommodate the JVP. They are of the opinion that the political alliance, which backed the former Army Chief at the recently concluded presidential polls should remain intact to meet the Rajapaksas’ challenge.

Political sources said that SLMC leader Rauf Hakeem, MP, and WPF MP, Mano Ganeshan, had told major players that a split in their alliance would be disadvantageous to them. Sources told The Island that the UNP had said that they would not compromise its decision to field candidates on the UNF (United National Front) ticket or give up the ‘elephant’ symbol. Sources said that as the UNF had not being recognised by Election Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake, the UNF wouldn’t be on the ballot paper. Instead, candidates would be voting for the UNP and the ‘elephant’ symbol, sources said.

Sources said that Tissa Attanayake, General Secretary of the UNP, would be responsible for handling nominations of all political parties contesting the parliamentary polls.

Sources acknowledged that the JVP wouldn’t find it easy to vote for the ‘elephant’ symbol. On the other hand, the JVP faces an uphill task of securing at least a few seats on its own at the next Parliament. At the last parliamentary election, the UNP secured 39 seats, including three National List slots.

Responding to our queries, a politician close to the on-going negotiations told The Island that the National Democratic Front (NDF), through which Fonseka had contested the January 26 presidential polls would not be available for the Opposition at the coming national election. The UNP wouldn’t want to allow a section of the Opposition (Fonseka-JVP combine) to use the ‘Swan’ symbol as it could undermine its overall strategy, sources said.

The Military Police swooped down on Fonseka in the aftermath of a crucial meeting the former Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) had with Mangala Samaraweera, MP at his Rajakeeya Mawatha office, where they discussed ways and means of sorting out contentious issues, sources said. UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe is believed to have requested Samaraweera to explore the possibility of having Fonseka to contest the polls on the UNF/UNP ticket.

Sources said that the Fonseka-Samaraweera meeting followed a move to field candidates representing Opposition political parties, which backed Fonseka at the presidential polls, on the NDF ticket at the parliamentary elections.

Sources said that Wickremesinghe would lead the campaign as the UNF’s prime ministerial candidate.

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