LG polls: Joint Opp pledges support for Mahinda loyalists


By Shamindra Ferdinando

UPFA Gampaha District MP Prasanna Ranatunga yesterday declared that the SLFP- Joint Opposition would campaign at the forthcoming local government polls for those local government members who had been with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa since the last president polls.

MP Ranatunga emphasised that they would throw their weight behind them even if they contested under a different symbol. The SLFPer said that it was their responsibility to ensure the election of those who had stood by the former President even at the risk to their careers. Other political parties in the Joint Opposition, too, would campaign for their victory, he added.

Colombo District MP Dinesh Gunawardena leads the Joint Opposition.

The former Chief Minister of the Western Provincial Council explained the circumstances under which President Maithripala Sirisena and those loyal to him had dissolved the local government institution at the expense of the SLFP which controlled most of them.

The move was meant to undermine the SLFP at the grassroots level and to neutralize SLFP members of those bodies, MP Ranatunga alleged.

The MP was addressing a gathering at the SLFP main office at Udugampola, yesterday. Among those present were members of the dissolved local government bodies.

MP Ranatunga pointed out that President Maithripala Sirisena, the SLFP leader, could have intervened on behalf of the party.

The SLFPer claimed that those who couldn’t stomach vast majority of local government members’ loyalty to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had brought local government bodies under the control of special commissioners instead of extending their terms.

An irate Ranatunga alleged that those who had been talking about an SLFP comeback had deprived the party of its grassroots level muscle. Whatever the problems experienced by the party, the vast majority of local government representatives always backed the former President, he said.

Responding to criticism that their actions had caused split in the SLFP, Ranatunga castigated those were now holding various portfolios in the government. Those who had been elected at the Aug. 17 parliamentary polls with the help of the former President and then joined the UNP government were responsible for the current crisis, MP Ranatunga said. The MP insisted that the SLFP-led UPFA had never received a mandate to establish a coalition.

MP Ranatunga reiterated that the Joint Opposition wouldn’t do anything to strengthen the incumbent administration.

In spite of announcing grandiose development plans, the new government was yet to undertake a project of its own. In fact, the government had so far failed in every sector and plunged the national economy into crisis.

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