WPC coup in the making to oust CM Ranatunga


By Chaminda Silva

A pot had been hatched to remove Western Province Chief Minister Prasanna Ranatunga and appoint Provincial Council Minister Ranjith Somawansa to that post, a senior SLFP spokesman told The Island yesterday.

A powerful minister of the incumbent government was behind the conspiracy and he had gone into overdrive to oust Chief Minister Ranatunga following the latter’s participation in the recent massive public rally at Nugegoda to pressure President Maithripala Sirisena to nominate former President Mahinda Rajapaksa as the UPFA’s next prime ministerial candidate, the spokesman said.

He said the method employed to remove Shasheendra Rajapaksa from the post of Chief Minister of the Uva Province and replace him with Harin Fernando would be adopted to replace Ranatunga with Somawansa. The conspirators had planned to secure the support of all UPFA and Opposition members of the Western Provincial Council, he added. "Many SLFPers have opposed the move. As we know former Uva CM has already gone before the courts over the issue. We should not let that method be followed again because it will be detrimental to the SLFP," the spokesman said.

Contacted for comment Chief Minister Ranatunga said that he had done nothing wrong to be removed from office. "There is a school of thought that we need to bring back former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.  It is gaining currency among our supporters every single day after the last presidential polls. And our members in Parliament and Provincial Councils cannot go back to their electorates without supporting that view. It is the duty of politicians to listen to public opinion. I have done just that," Ranatunga said.

The Chief Minister said the UNP had remained in the Opposition for decades because its leader Ranil Wickremesinghe did not respect public opinion and the view of party stalwarts. "If the SLFP commits the same mistake, it will have to face the consequences at the forthcoming general election," he said.

Health Minister of the Western Provincial Council Ranjith Somawansa said his intention was to win the forthcoming general election and enter Parliament. It was his hope that reconciliation should prevail in the SLFP.

"Former Presidents Chandrika Kumaratunga, Mahinda Rajapaksa and the incumbent Maithripala Sirisena should be seen together on the same platform so that the SLFPers could unite again. It is wrong for anyone to stick to a single position for long. Those who hold positions should be ready to give them up when the time comes."

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