The longstanding intense hatred between the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the United National Party (UNP) prevented President Maithripala Sirisena from building meaningful consensus between the two parties, Minister of Power and Energy and General Secretary of the United National Front for Good Governance (UNFGG), Patali Champika Ranawaka said.
In an interview with The Nation, Ranawaka said while President Sirisena became Chairman of the SLFP, his attempts to build a national consensus failed as ‘hateful elements’ within the SLFP didn’t understand this style of new governance and as such, did not accept it.
Speaking further, Ranawaka dismissed the SLFP’s belief that there was now a ‘Mahinda Wave’ after nominations were given to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to contest from the party and lead its campaign. He predicted that the very same elements that were propping up Mahinda Rajapaksa would drop him ‘like a hot potato’ after his defeat at the upcoming General Election, rendering him a political orphan.
Once that happens, Ranawaka said they hoped President Sirisena would be able to enact meaningful reforms to restructure the SLFP and rebrand it. He also dismissed arguments put forward by the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) that Mahinda Rajapaksa’s voter base was intact and will only increase.
“Pre-January 8, Mahinda Rajapaksa had the full might of state machinery at his disposal and used those resources at will. He turned 1.4 million Samurdhi beneficiary families into his own personal political force. There were 5 million votes that revolved around those 1.4 million families. He lost despite all this and now he no longer has the capability to force those people to vote for him. He can no longer force the media to toe his line. The scaremongering tactics regarding the country being in danger of splitting don’t work anymore.”
Ranawaka pointed out that the same people who are now coming up with ‘statistics’ to favor Rajapaksa had earlier proclaimed that Mahinda Rajapaksa would win the Presidential Election by over 2 million votes. “This election will show just how pathetic the UPFA is without its control over Samurdhi beneficiaries,” he added.