In definace of party ban
More than 25 SLFP MPs,
CM, 400 PC,LG members
at pro-Mahinda rally


by Dasun Edirisinghe reporting from Ratnapura

More than 25 SLFP MPs attended yesterday’s Bring Back Mahinda rally at Ratnapura.

Tens of thousands of people braved heavy rains to throng the Ratnapura town in support of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is under pressure from his loyalists including a section of SLFP MPs to contest the next parliamentary election as the UPFA’s prime ministerial candidate.

The rally was jointly organised by the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP), National Freedom Front ((NFF), Democratic Left Front (NLF) and Pivithuru Hela Urumaya. It was the third in a series. The first and the second rallies were held in Nugegoda and Kandy respectively.

The Ratnapura Municipal Council had denied the organisers permission to hold the rally at the Seevali Ground. However, the thronging crowd spilled out into the municipal ground despite the ban.

The SLFP MPs who attended yesterday’s rally were: Kumara Welgama, Bandula Gunawardena, Mahindananda Alutgamage, Vidura Wickremanayake, Salinda Dissanayake, T. B. Ekanayake, S. M. Chandrasena, Gamini Lokuge, Rohitha Abeygunawardena, Kamala Ranatugna, Chandrasiri Muthukumarana, Manusha Nanayakkara, Sanee Rohana, Ranjith Zoysa, Janaka Wakkukumbura, Shehan Semasinghe, Lohan Ratwatte, Dilum Amunugama, Janaka Bandara, Chamika Buddadasa, Uditha Lokubandara, V. K. Indika, Roshan Ranasinghe.

Besides UPFA MPs Dinesh Gunawardena, Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Wimal Weerawansa, Geethanjana Gunawardena, Weerakumara Dissanayake and Y. G. Padmasiri as well as more than 400 provincial council and local government members attended the rally though the elected representatives of the SLFP had been banned by their new leadership from attending political events organised by other parties.

Addressing the rally Western Province Chief Minister Prasanna Ranatunga said that they would continue their struggle to bring back former President Rajapaksa as the PM candidate come what may. He said no one would be able to prevent them from achieving their goal because the people were solidly behind them as could be seen from the massive crowd at the rally in spite of the downpour.

NFF Leader Wimal Weerawansa said the new government had come to power promising good governance, but it had appointed 77 ministers within 75 days of its formation. He said it was a shame that some of the SLFP MPs accused of corruption had been appointed ministers of the new government. "Those who condemned Minister S. B. Dissanayake as one of most corrupt politicians have appointed him a Cabinet minister. The real SLFP MPs had joined the mass movement to bring back Rajapaksa while the corrupt joined the Sirisena government for personal benefits, Weerawansa said.

The former minister said that new had stopped all the projects such as Colombo Port City, Defense Headquarters and Mahindodaya Technology Laboratories launched by the previous government. "There are three Presidents – MaithripalaSirisena, Ranil Wickremesinghe and Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga in the new government," he said, adding that together they were taking the country backward.

Weerawansa alleged that 45 people including President Sirisena’s wife and son had gone to China while accusing the former President of wasteful expenditure. The former minister urged President Rajapaksa to re-enter politics and serve the country as he had done as president for ten years.

Weerawansa said that more than 50 SLFP parliamentarians were willing to attend the next rally in Kurunegala.

MEP leader Dinesh Gunawardena said that present government had reduced the security of former President Rajapaksa in spite of threats to his life due to his leadership for the country’s war to defeat terrorism. The former minister called upon the government not to endanger the former president’s life.

Ratnapura District MP and DLF leader Vasudeva Nanayakkara and PHU leader, Western Provincial Council member Udaya Gammanpila also addressed the gathering.

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