JO alleges US, India seeking to save UNP, SLFP ‘marriage’

...seeks Opp. Leader’s post


MP Alahapperuma alleges foreign interference in domestics issue at Dr. N. M. Perera Center. MP Semage looks on (pic Ranjith Wimalasiri)

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Joint Opposition/Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) yesterday alleged US and Indian efforts to save the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration in the wake of latter’s Feb. 10 drubbing at local government polls.

Addressing the media at Dr. N.M. Perera Center, Cotta Road, Borella, JO/SLPP spokesmen, MPs Dallas Alahapperuma, Shehan Semasinghe, Sisira Jayakody and Thenuka Vidanagamage alleged those who had spearheaded 2015 project to oust President Mahinda Rajapaksa were busy trying to save the coalition.

Referring to NGO Purawesi Balaya claim that the outfit had received firm assurances from President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as regards continuation with national unity government, Alahapperuma expressed serious concern that external intervention in purely a domestic political matter.

The former minister referred to Wikileaks revelations regarding US role in forming an unholy alliance comprising the UNP, JVP, TNA, SLMC et al to back General Sarath Fonseka’s presidential candidature in 2010.

Jayakody said foreign powers were making a determined bid to ensure the continuation of the government in spite of heavy polls defeat at countrywide election.

Commenting on both UNP and the SLFP calling for changes in the UNP in the wake of humiliating defeat, Alahapperuma said that those who had voted for Maithripala Sirisena three years back had delivered a knockout blow to the government.

Alahapperuma said the vast majority of people had voted against the government. Some had sought to portray overwhelming vote for SLPP as a rejection of PM Wickremesinghe, Alahapperuma however said Feb.10 vote reflected the growing public anger and resentment towards the administration, not only PM Wickremesinghe as some wanted the people to believe.

The Matara district MP reiterated that 2015 mandates received by Sirisena and Wickremesinghe at presidential and parliamentary polls, respectively, had been nullified by the latest countrywide vote. Recalling the change of government on the basis of presidential election vote in 2015, at a time the then SLFP-led UPFA had enjoyed an unchallengeable two-thirds majority in parliament, Alahapperuma reiterated JO/SLPP call for fresh general election.

Former President Rajapaksa early this week called for a fresh general election as the UNP-SLFP coalition no longer enjoyed confidence of the electorate. Alahapperuma pointed out that the UNP hadn’t been able to secure a single electoral district, while UNP and SLFP leaders also suffered humiliating defeats.

President Sirisena and PM Wickremesinghe couldn’t even win Polonnaruwa and Colombo districts, Alahapperuma said. In fact, yahapalana leaders had badly lost north central and western provinces, respectively while except four cabinet ministers and two state ministers, all lost their electorates. Speaker Karu Jayasuriya lost Mirigama electorate, Alahapperuma said, adding that SLFP General Secretary Duminda Dissanayake and UPFA General Secretary Mahinda Amaraweera, too, lost their home bases.

Alahapperuma chided twice president and yahapalana heavyweight Chandrika Kumaratunga for not being able to win SLFP stronghold Attanagalle.

The MP alleged that ministers Mangala Samaraweera and Dr. Rajitha Senaratne were engaged in a futile damage control exercise.

He said that they would request Speaker Karu Jayasuriya to accept the JO as the main Opposition in parliament.

Parliament meets again on Feb. 19.

Speaker Jayasuriya, much to the disappointment of over 50 members of the JO had recognized the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) as the main Opposition though it consisted of less than 20 MPs, Alahapperuma said. "We’ll now make a fresh appeal in the wake of polling much much more votes than those in the unity government," Alapapperuma said.

MEP leader Dinesh Gunawardena leads the JO group in parliament whereas Mahinda Rajapaksa leads SLPP though Prof. G.L. Peiris functions as its Chairman.

The MP said that the Speaker couldn’t deprive them of the Opposition Leader’s post especially in the backdrop of the newly formed party wielding sufficient power even to form the next government. The JO parliamentary group now consists of 54, including former president Rajapaksa. They were among 95 UPFA members elected and appointed on the National List.

JO/SLPP urged the media not to facilitate ridiculous government operations to deceive the public. Those who had portrayed MPs Weerakumara Dissanayake and Sriyani Wijewickrema switching allegiance to President Sirisena as a significant political development, were reluctant to provide sufficient coverage to former president’s victory.

Alahapperuma said he felt sorry for those JO members who joined the losing side at the last moment.

Responding to a query by The Island, Alahapperuma said that the SLPP wouldn’t under any circumstances join any group in parliament or accept responsibilities therein, though the outfit was ready to facilitate anti-UNP move.

Alahapperuma said the parliament had been packed with rejected candidates. According to him, nearly 20 per cent of the MPs in 225 parliament were defeated candidates accommodated through the National List. Of the members of the cabinet, nearly 10 per cent were rejected candidates, the MP said, claiming that such a situation didn’t exist in any other part of the world.

Alahapperuma said it was an affront to the electorate.

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