SLFPers in JO against party split

Sunday, 18 September 2016

UPFA General Secretary and Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said, the SLFP Parliamentarians in the Joint Opposition (JO) should accept President Maithripala Sirisena’s invitation at the SLFP Convention to join the SLFP and commit themselves to strengthen the party and ensure its victory, if they are true SLFPers.

At present, discussions are being held between the two factions at an unofficial level, but it is rather premature to comment whether the ongoing discussions will be a success or not, the Minister told the Sunday Observer, yesterday.

Denying speculation of a widening gap between the two factions, the Minister said, the SLFP MPs in the JO have no intention of setting up a new party.

They have not informed the SLFP hierarchy of their decision to contest the upcoming Local Government polls under a separate front or symbol, either.

Minister Amaraweera castigated certain political factions within the SLFP led UPFA for trying to dislodge the party for narrow political gain. These attempts he said, will certainly help the UNP to further consolidate its vote base. The minor political parties, though grouped under the SLFP led UPFA umbrella, only try to strengthen their stature at the cost of the SLFP vote base. Some minority parties in the JO are well aware that they are not able to win an election if they contest separately, he said.

UPFA Kandy District Parliamentarian Keheliya Rambukwella told the Sunday Observer, what they want is to build the SLFP and the left wing together, as a formidable political force. The majority of the SLFPers have endorsed this stance. At present the SLFP appears to have been eclipsed by the UNP.

He said, the SLFP led UPFA has 95 members to stand together. Their complaint is that, six or seven of them would decamp from the 95. It is all right, it is happening all over the world. But then, we will be a vibrant Opposition. The SLFP has to base on its own policies, without depending on others, he said.

MP Rambukwella said, the UNP’s ideology does not blend with the SLFP and the left-centered policies. Nearly 95 percent of the SLFPers admit this fact.

The JO has not taken any final decision to separately contest the upcoming LG polls. But the fact is, at the end of the day, people want to see there is potential for a third force, because this is a one sided Government. The Opposition Leader and Chief Opposition Whip belong to one group. It is not healthy for democratic governance. Today, the SLFP is in total disarray. The UNP and SLFP Parliamentarians are holding together because they have got some positions and perks. The SLFPers holding positions are greedy, and don’t wish to make any sacrifice on behalf of the party, he said.