‘Save SLFP from being held responsible for a divided country’

‘Blue elephants’ urged to quit ruling coalition


By Shamindra Ferdinando

Reiterating its strong opposition to controversial VAT Amendment Bill, the Joint Opposition (JO) yesterday urged those who had been elected on the UPFA ticket at the last parliamentary polls to quit the UNP-led government without further delay.

Gampaha District MP and JO convenor Prasanna Ranatunga told The Island that the grouping wouldn’t be demoralized by recent suspension of UPFA Puttalam District MP Sanath Nishantha for being publicly critical of President Maithripala Sirisena.

The MP emphasized that the JO campaign intended to oust what he called a treacherous coalition government was on track. Of the 95 member UPFA parliamentary group, the JO consisted of about 50.

Responding to another query, MP Ranatunga pointed out that the Supreme Court had provided immediate relief to consumers struggling to make ends meet consequent to petition filed by JO member and leader of National Freedom Front (NFF) Wimal Weerawansa.

Commenting on Special Assignment Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama’s recent declaration that the SLFP/UPFA group in the government would vote for the VAT Amendment Bill, MP Ranatunga alleged that those loyal to President Maithripala Sirisena, too, were sharply divided over the group’s stand.

MP Ranatunga pointed out that SLFP spokesperson and State Highways Minister Dilan Perera had publicly contradicted Dr. Amunugama’s claim.

MP Ranatunga said that the SLFP couldn’t be allowed to be used to prop up the UNP led administration.

Addressing a group of JO activists at his residence at Udugampola, Gampaha, yesterday morning, MP Ranatinga alleged that ‘blue elephants’ had made a desperate bid to deceive the public on the basis VAT Amendment Bill would be amended. The SLFPer alleged blue elephants had been greedy for perks and privileges and therefore clung to ministerial portfolios at the expense of both SLFP as well as public interests.

MR Ranatunga said that as people couldn’t bear the proposed sharp increase in VAT, the SLFP/UPFA group shouldn’t in anyway strengthen the government.

MP Ranatunga warned that as the main partner of the UNP-led coalition, the SLFP would eventually would have to take responsibility for ruining the country. MP Ranatunga regretted that the integrity of the party had been severely damaged due to the failure on the part of the SLFP leadership to comprehend ground realities.

The SLFP couldn’t move forward by propping up the UNP, MP Ranatunga said, drawing the attention of the current leadership to the fact that the party never received a mandate at the last parliamentary polls to go for a coalition.

Commenting on post-war ongoing national reconciliation efforts, MR Ranatunga accused the government of facilitating project to divide the country on ethnic lines. Western powers, pro-LTTE Diaspora and an influential section of the NGO community had been pursuing an agenda severely inimical to Sri Lanka. Alleging that the government had been indirectly backing the eelam project, the JO spokesperson said that the Constitution couldn’t be amended to appease the Northern and Eastern Provinces. The SLFPer stressed that Western powers, pro-LTTE Tamil Diaspora as well as the NGO community couldn’t be permitted to intervene in the constitutional making process.

Speaking in his capacity as former Chief Minister of the Western Province, Ranatunga said that police and land powers shouldn’t be given to Provincial Councils under any circumstances. MP Ranatunga said that since President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s defeat at January 2015 presidential polls, the separatist project had received a tremendous boost. Acknowledging that Provincial Councils should be allowed to exercise administrative powers at a certain level, MP Ranatunga emphasized Provincial Councils should work in harmony with the government.

MP Ranatunga alleged that the yahapalana administration had imposed restrictions on the armed forces deployed in the Northern Province, released LTTE terrorists, imprisoned members of the military, including those assigned to the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) and basically undermined national security.

The Gampaha District MP said that the government should take up responsibility for the rapid deterioration of national security. The MP warned of dire consequences if the eelam project succeeded. The JO heavyweight said that such a situation couldn’t never be reversed though various acts introduced in parliament could be abolished.

MP Ranatunga alleged that the SLFP knowingly or unknowingly contributing to war winning Sri Lanka’s downfall.

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