Prez, PM urged to step down

SLPP reminds how Ranil invited to form govt following MR’s 2015 defeat


SLPP Chairman Prof. G.L. Peiris addressing the media. Peiris is flanked by Wimal Weerawansa and Dinesh Gunawardena (Pic by Nimal Dayaratne)

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna/Joint Opposition yesterday demanded that the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe coalition give up parliamentary power to pave the way for a new administration in the wake of debilitating defeat they had suffered at countrywide local government poll on Feb. 10.

JO parliamentary group leader and MP Dinesh Gunawardena, SLPP Chairman Prof. G.L. Peiris, MP Dullas Alahapperuma, MP Udaya Gammanpila, MP Wimal Weerawansa, MP Pavitradevi Wanniarachchi, Communist Party representative Rajah Collure and

former Governor of the Central Bank Ajith Nivard Cabraal on behalf of professionals backing the SLPP/JO called for change of government.

The declaration was made at Battaramulla Nelum Mawatha Office of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa soon after the SLPP captured more than 200 local government bodies in areas outside the Northern and Eastern Provinces.

Alahapperuma said that having won January 8, 2015 presidential poll, Maithripala Sirisena invited UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe to form the government on the basis the SLFP-led UPFA no longer enjoyed the confidence of electorate. Therefore, the same concept should now be applied in the wake of massive drubbing the coalition received at what he called countrywide referendum.

The Matara District MP said that at the time, President Sirisena invited Wickremesinghe to form the government, the UNP parliamentary group comprised 46 members out of 225-member parliament. "At the time of the presidential poll, the SLFP parliamentary group consisted of 126 members. The SLFP-led UPFA parliamentary group comprised 152 members. We enjoyed a two-thirds majority until 4pm, January 9," Alahapperuma said.

Alahapperuma quoted President elect Sirisena as having told the SLFP/UPFA group that the party had lost its mandate in the wake of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s defeat.

The rebel MP emphasized that they wouldn’t conspire to bring down the government, but the marriage of convenience couldn’t continue.

Declaring that the vast majority of people had exercised their franchise to reiterate their faith in war winning twice President Mahinda Rajapaksa, MEP leader Dinesh Gunawardena said that Feb. 10 verdict was a victory for the country. Gunawardena said the SLPP/JO was able to secure massive victory in spite of the JO denied opportunities in parliament it deserved being much bigger than the appointed Opposition.

A smiling Gunawardena stressed that President Sirisena and PM Wickremesinghe had suffered unprecedented heavy defeat at the first election in three years. "This is nothing but a shameful defeat for the president and the premier", he said.

Asserting that yahapalana leaders had lost their much touted 2015 mandate, Gunawardena urged them to step down. The JO parliamentary group leader emphasized that often repeated 6.2 mn vote mandate no longer existed. Therefore, they should accept defeat, Gunawardena said, adding that massive endorsement of their party reflected what the electorate really thought of them.

Prof. Peiris said the electorate had obviously considered several vital issues before deciding to vote overwhelmingly against those in power and the JVP that cooperated with the government. Declaring that Feb. 10 ruling couldn’t be compared with any other election result under any circumstances, Prof. Peiris said that malicious propaganda blitz directed at the Rajapaksas and members of the JO/SLPP had backfired.

President Sirisena’a pathetic failure to secure more votes in the Polonnaruwa electoral district more than the SLPP was a stunning blow to the SLFP leader. "We polled 94,136 votes while Sirisena’s party managed 89,000 followed by the UNP and the JVP," Prof. Peiris said, asserting that Feb. 10 result had far broader implications than newly established SLPP securing more local government bodies than the UNP, SLFP and the TNA combined. "That is the undeniable truth," the former law Professor said.

Alleging that SLFP leader Sirisena had made a desperate bid to sabotage final SLPP rally in Polonnaruwa, Prof. Peiris said yahapalana leaders, Sirisena and Wickremesinghe should realize what they badly lost was a referendum on the performance of three-year coalition.

The SLFPers, obviously lacked faith in President Sirisena’s leadership, the former External Affairs Minister said, asserting that the party had paid a very heavy price for reckless, irresponsible and malicious campaign targeting the former President and his family.

Weerawansa said that there had never been an instance of a party in power losing local government polls before Feb. 10 drubbing. The National Freedom Front leader said that the unprecedented victory was even bigger than the 1956 revolution. Weerawansa said that those who had conducted poll surveys as well as the media couldn’t foresee what was going to happen. Calling the people’s action kathira tsunami, Weerawansa said those who had felt comfortable and believed they could continue regardless of every sector being in crisis, received a crude shock.

Weerawansa said the people had been so disappointed with yahapalana mismanagement of the country, they overwhelmingly voted for SLPP proxy at Maharagama and Thirapane to inflict losses on yahapalana partners.

SLPP/JO leaders paid a glowing tribute to both print and electronic media for ensuring sufficient coverage for them in spite of difficulties.

Alahapperuma claimed that the UNP had spent over Rs. 1 bn for propaganda and the SLFP a little less than that, yet they couldn’t overcome growing public resentment. The Feb. 10 verdict, Alahapperuma declared was the culmination of their failure to remove the former President from politics. "Mahinda is the strongest and most loved leader whatever the critics say," the MP said.

The media was told of the role played by former SLFP National Organizer and powerful Economic Affairs Minister Basil Rajapaksa and Prof. Peiris, in his capacity as the Chairman of the party.

The SLPP received National Election Commission’s recognition in late 2016.


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