Tissa: MS will plunge country into chaos

Ketagoda: CBK wants to be PM


By Dasun Edirisinghe

Former UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake, MP, who has announced his support for President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the January 08 presidential election said yesterday that he had decided against backing presidential candidate Maitripala Sirisena because the latter had failed to fulfil his main pledge to the UNP Working Committee (WC).

The WC had endorsed Sirisena’s candidature as he had promised to engineer the defection of 25 government MPs, among other things, Attanayake said.

The UNP’s support for Sirisena had been made conditional to brining 25 UPFA MPs, appointing UNP National Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe Executive Prime Minister and the abolition of the executive presidency within 100 days of his election, said the former UNP General Secretary, adding that Sirisena had already failed to fulfil the first condition.

Addressing the media for the first time since his defection at the Jana Kala Kendraya, Battaramulla, flanked by SLFP stalwarts, Attanayake said Sirisena’s failure to deliver 25 MPs from the UPFA to the Opposition before handing over of nominations had been one of the common candidate’s pledges to the UNP.

"I was thinking in terms of a presidential candidate fielded by the UNP. If UNP National Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe could not contest, I thought of fielding deputy leader Sajith Premadasa."

Attanayaka said he had been constrained to respect the party decision to support Sirisena instead of a UNP candidate.

The former UNP General Secretary said that he had insisted the UNP be the main constituent in case of it coalescing with other parties to contest the presidential election, but Sirisena’s campaign was being handled by former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga from her Independent Square office and the UNP had no say in the matter.

Former President Kumaratunga, who was backing Sirisena had spoken of him disparagingly, recalled Attanayake. He said she had in the course of a conversation with him had asked "Who is Maithripala Sirisena? I know how to win an election if I get a General Secretary like you (Tissa)" –– Maithripala Mokekda, Mama Dannawa Dinana Heti Mata Oyawa Lebunanam Maha Lekam Widiyata.

The UNP National List MP said that as the party General Secretary had been kept in the dark about the agreement signed by UNP National Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and Sirisena.

He charged that Sirisena had signed separate agreements with Jathika Hela Urumaya, Tamil National Alliance and Democratic Party, but the UNP was not privy to the contents of those agreements. "How can Sirisena fulfil pledges given in separate agreements within one coalition when member parties have totally different political ideologies?" he asked.

Sirisena would plunge the country into chaos in the unlikely event of his election as President, MP Attanayake warned, noting that the country would be destabilised in such an eventuality.

In response to an allegation that he did not have a vote base because he had entered Parliament from the National List at the last general election, Attanayake said that everybody could see his power after Jan. 08, 2015.

"I contested a general election for the first time in 1989 and won six general elections thereafter with my preferential votes increasing every time," he said, adding that he had not contested the last general election in keeping with a party decision to pave the way for SLMC Leader Rauff Hakeem and Democratic People’s Front Leader Mano Ganeshan to contest under the UNP banner from the Kandy District.

MP Attanayake denied as baseless an allegation that he had accepted a huge cash bribe to join the government. He said he never betrayed the policies for money and the UNP leadership knew it very well.

The UNP had been able to increase its vote base to some extent due to his effort to bring together Ranil and Sajith on the same stage.

Deputy Leader of Gen. Sarath Fonseka’s Democratic Party, Colombo District MP Jayantha Ketagoda said that his leader needed to retain executive presidency and had asked him not to sign any agreement with Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera to abolish it.

He said that Gen. Fonseka, who contested the 2010 presidential election as the Opposition’s Common Candidate had told him that he had been compelled to sit with those who had backed the LTTE. "Now Gen. Fonseka has chosen to sit with them again," Ketagoda said.

Recalling how former President Kumaratunga had toppled the UNF government in 2003 by using executive powers he said now she was talking about good governance.

Ketagoda said he had information that Chandrika was planning to be the Prime Minister.

Ketagoda said that Maitripala Sirisena’s brother had organised a campaign to paralyse the rice market at Maradagahamulla when the UNP –lead UNF formed a government (2002-2004) to increase the rice prices.

SLFP Senior Vice President Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva, SLFP General Secretary Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, UPFA General Secretary Minister Susil Premajayantha, SLFP Treasurer Minister Dullas Alahapperuma, Water Supply and Drainage Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, Education Minister Bandula Gunawardena and Senior Minister Prof. Tissa Vitharana also participated.

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