Pavithra and Vasu in tussle for Eheliyagoda

The All-Island Executive Committee of the SLFP met at Temple Trees on the 7th. The party general secretary Maithreepala Sirisena and Treasurer Dullas Alahapperuma had been the chief organizers of the event. Special pains had been taken to organize this meeting because it was going to be an awards ceremony as well for all those MPs who performed exceptionally well at the last parliamentary election. Basil Rajapakse won the award for the highest preference votes and Namal Rajapaksa for the highest percentage. Wimal Weerawansa won the award for the second highest number of preference votes. Nishantha Muthuhettigama got a thunderous applause from the audience. President Mahinda Rajapakse was also given a special award at this ceremony. It was a gem studded silver pot in a glass case. Later the president had been curiously examining the gift and Dullas Alahapperuma explained that it was ‘the pot of prosperity’ depicted on the one hundred Rupee notes and that something like this was used to store gold coins in the treasuries of the ancient Kings of Sri Lanka. Addressing those present the president in a retrospective mood said that if there is anything that he can be happy about in his 40 year political career, it is that despite all the challenges that he had to face and all the pain of mind he had to undergo at various times, he never betrayed the party or criticized the party or broke away from it. He said that some who had various grievances and were criticizing the party in various places, should take a lesson from that.

On the 4th, UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe visited Kandy and accompanied by Lakshman Kiriella, Tissa Attanayake, and Wijedasa Rajapaksa, went to see the Ven Mahanayake of the Asgiriya Chapter. The Ven Mahanayake had wanted to know what the problems in the party were all about. Ranil explained that the party reorganization was in progress and said that if the party wanted somebody to take responsibility he was prepared for that. The Ven Mahanayake had asked about the stories that the leadership would be taken to certain districts. Ranil said that such things were heard, however a leadership should emerge not through disunity and division of the party, but through consensus. The next day the same party went to meet the Ven Mahanayake of the Malwatte chapter. During the conversation, Ranil suggested that lands belonging to the Viharaya should be used for planting trees and said that if any such project was launched, he could intervene and get foreign funds. Ranil also complained to the Ven Mahanayake about the way the government spent Rs 1.2 billion Rupees on the IIFA awards ceremony.

Later the visitors to Kandy also participated in a ceremony to declare open a new Sangaavasa in a temple in the Kundasale electorate. Tissa Attanayake and some philanthropists have provided the funds for the Sanghavasa.

On Monday a meeting of party leaders was held in parliament under the Chairmanship of the speaker. Dinesh Gunawardena, Nimal Siripala de Silva and Wimal Weerawansa represented the government and Karu Jayasuriya, John Amaratunga Ravi Karunanayake, Mangala Samaraweera and R.Sambandan the opposition. The main issue discussed was the allocation of time for the budget debate. Karu had made various suggestions which included minimizing the threats made to the opposition by government MPs, scaling down the security arrangements in parliament and takings the views of the UNP into account in making constitutional amendments. It was ultimately decided that 12 per day would be allocated for the budget debate. During the meeting, Wimal asked Sambandan why he could not praise his speeches the way he had praised Basil’s speech the other day. To this Sambandan had said that if Wimal says something that would favour them he would praise his speech too. Wimal laughingly replied that if that was the case, they would have to wait a very long time.

The 14 MPs of the TNA met the president on Monday. Basil, Dullas, Nimal and Maithreepala were also present at this meeting. The President reminded the Tamil MPs of their duty to the country. He told them that there were attempts to revive the LTTE and that he would leave no room for that. He told the MPs that they as leaders of the north should also ensure that things were not taken back to the unpleasant past. The Tamil MPs said that they too wanted an opportunity to serve their people and that they should be allowed to take the benefits of the government to their people. Basil explained to those present the steps that the government had taken to build houses for the people in the north. The president said that these discussions had to be continued and that he will do for them whatever is within the limits of the possible. He told them not to bring impossible demands to him. Wadai and tea were served at the end of the meeting.

When the UPFA parliamentary group met last week, Vasudeva Nanayakkra said that he had been elected as the representative of the Eheliyagoda electorate and that there were two Divisional secretaries areas within that electorate and that if he is to do any work for the people of the area, the authority of the Pradesheeya Development Committees should be handed over to him. Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi said that Eheliyagoda was her electorate and that it would be unfair to give Vasu both Divisional secretariat areas and she suggested that he be given one while she retains the other. But Vasu was adamant and asked for both. At this point John Seneviratne intervened and said that both could not be given to one person. The President suggested that there were other Divisional secreatruiat areas that did not have MPs and that two of those should be given to vasu and Pavithra.

The president left for India on a three day tour on the 8th and met prime minister Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi and Indian president Prathibha Patel.

When the UNP parliamentary group met Manusha Nanayakkara took up the issue that Vajira Abeywardena had asked for a recount of the Galle district preference votes. He wanted to know how Vajira could make such a decision and suggested that he be replaced with Gayantha Karunatilleke . Dayasiri Jayasekera suggested that they should form a broad front against the proposed constitutional reforms because what was envisaged was not the abolition of the executive presidency but the removal of limits on presidential terms. He said that MPs within the government like Tissa Vitharana and Vasu should be also be approached on this. At the UPFA group meeting the President has issued a warning to those who oppose the constitutional reforms, saying that if two or three people were trying to create problems and leave the government, there were about 15 others waiting in the queue to come in.

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