Sri Lanka’s political parties are undergoing a phase of intra-party turmoil on the selection of nominations of members via the National List (NL), The Nation learns.
Despite the original list of UNP’s National List nominees including the name of K. Velayudan as the fifth candidate, the list submitted to Commissioner of Elections (EC) has excluded his name and inserted Sirinal De Mel. Meanwhile, Azath Salley who was included as the 14th nominee on the list has also missed out. On Friday, the United National Party (UNP) submitted its National List to the EC and the list included Karu Jayasuriya, Party Chairman Malik Samarawickrama, D. M. Swaminathan, Venerable Athuraliye Rathana Thera, Dr. Jayampathi Wickramaratne, Thilak Marapana, Professor C. A. Marasinghe, M. K. D. S Gunawardene, M. H. M. Navavi, M. H. M. Salman, Dr. A. R. A Hafeez, Sirinal de Mel and Anoma Gamage.
Prior to the elections, Salley had sought nominations from UNP in the Kandy District. However, it was reported that since Ranil Wickremasinghe took a party decision to include only two Muslims in their list, Rauff Hakeem and M H M Haleem took prominence over Sally. It is also an open secret that both Hakeem and Salley did not see eye to eye since the latter contested Provincial Council elections on the SLMC ticket in 2012 and later defected, when the SLMC took the decision to support UPFA in the Council. It is not clear whether this might have played a role in the UNP leadership refusing a NL slot to Salley, sources said.
“Prior to the elections, I asked PM Ranil whether he could assure me a NL slot. To that his response was ‘It’s conditional’. At the time, I didn’t however ask him what the condition was,” a Tamil language website reported on Friday quoting Sally.
Prior to the elections, The Nation learns that though Azath Salley was requested by UNP Leader to contest on behalf of the UNP in the Eastern Province he had refused. At the time he had responded to UNP leadership that he did not want to go back on his promise he made to the people in the Kandy district when he got elected as a Central Provincial Council member in 2013 that he will not switch provinces at a future election.
Later the party, to compromise with him, included him as a National List candidate and Salley was then tasked to campaign for the UNP in the Eastern province, a task he fulfilled.
Meanwhile, it was widely speculated that All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) would give the NL slot to their party Secretary Y L S Hameed. But AMMC has backtracked on its promise. Instead the party had included M. H. M. Navavi, a defeated candidate who contested on behalf of ACMC in the Puttalam District.
It is learnt that Y L S Hameed, who was clearly irked by this decision by the Party Leader, had on Thursday sent a letter suspending Party Leader Rishad Bathiudeen
“This is the third occasion Bathiudeen has cheated on his promise to give me a National List MP position. Therefore, I as the General Secretary have more authority in the affairs of the party and therefore will now take legal action against Bathiudeen and sack him from the party and its leadership,” Hameed who summoned a hurriedly organized press conference on Friday told the media.
On the other hand, the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress has omitted own Party General Secretary, M T Hassan Ali and instead offered the two NL slots to Dr. A R A Hafeez, the brother of Party Leader Rauff Hakeem and Attorney at Law M. H. M. Salman. Prior to the election, SLMC had also made a surprising decision to refrain from giving nominations to party veteran Basheer Segu Dawood or at least including him on the NL. It was an open secret among party circles that there was a cold war between Hakeem and Dawood.
Reports reveal the inclusion of Dr. A R A Hafeez and M. H. M. Salman, both very close confidants of Rauff Hakeem was a temporary measure.
“These two are very trusted candidates and would resign any moment the Party leader so requests and that is the sole reason they were preferred than other candidates nominated originally which included the likes of Kalmunai Mayor Nizam Kariyapper and MT Hassan Ali,” a top source told The Nation on the condition of anonymity.
JVP meanwhile had already nominated defeated candidate Sunil Handunetti and former Auditor General Sarathchandra Mayadunne much to the displeasure of Attorney at Law Chrishmal Warnasuriya who was listed as their second nominee.