95 percent of the SLFP left-wingers want a new political party with Mahinda Rajapaksa or they will boycott the SLFP. The Govt is afraid that MR will form a political party
Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) MP Kumara Welgama spoke to Nation regarding the new political party that is in the offing, and what such an unfolding would augur for the Party, the Government and the polity.
Q: Why is a new political party being spoken of at this juncture?
I am a staunch Member of the SLFP. I am one of the oldest electorate and seat organizers for the Party. I have been one for over 34 years. It was former Prime Minister, Sirimavo Bandaranaike who appointed me as one. It is the opinion of the entire country that a new political party is needed. Approximately 95% of those who lean to the Left and are Leftists and left-wingers, want a new political party to be formed and for it to be led by former President and incumbent MP Mahinda Rajapaksa. The SLFP MPs of the Joint Opposition have not taken a decision as yet. The Presidential Election and the General Election have concluded. The local government authorities and Provincial Councils elections are pending. The people are disillusioned by the way Rajapaksa was treated. At the same time now, we have the other political parties of the Joint Opposition, telling us that a separate alliance must be formed.
Q: The Commissioner of Elections has pointed out the impediment to forming a new political party. How will this impact this purported endeavour?
A new political party cannot be formed. This we must admit to because for over four years now the scheduled elections in certain places like Vaddukkodai have not been held. Yet, one does not require a new political party. There are many political parties that have been formed and are already in existence. They have been registered. Hence, there is no impediment to going through any one of them. Even former Prime Minister, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike first contested through the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP).
Q : Even Rajapaksa has spoken of him being used by certain politicians to gain political mileage. Is this really not taking place for the political survival of a few political orphans?
Since in an indirect way, references are made to MPs like Leader of the National Freedom Front, Wimal Weerawansa, Leader of the MEP, Dinesh Gunawardena and General Secretary of the Pivithuru Hela Urumaya, Udaya Gammanpila. The voters will go looking for political alternatives in other political parties. Therefore, the SLFP should take the situation and the circumstances into consideration and must attempt to resolve the issues and move forward. We are contesting and competing to gain power. We must be truthful and admit that fact. The Party therefore has a responsibility to not allow a split to take place but to solve the problems in a fair and just manner.
Q : History teaches us that splinter groups have performed abysmally and met with the fate of being relegated to political oblivion. How do you care to respond?
Those have not been successful because of the leaders. Today, the Left accepts Rajapaksa. Even the General Secretary of the SLFP has admitted that fact. Rajapaksa was the nation’s leader. He was also the leader, who along with the war heroes ended the most brutal terrorism of the recent past of the LTTE. This fact cannot be erased from the minds of the people.
Q : What should be the role and responsibility of the SLFP?
As an old and senior Member of the SLFP, it must be said that the first option would and should be to come to a consensus without breaking up the Party. The Government is chasing after matters pertaining to the Special Presidential Commission of Inquiry to Investigate and Inquire into Serious Acts of Fraud, Corruption and Abuse of Power, State Resources and Privileges, the Financial Crimes Investigation Division and the Criminal Investigation Department. Already one year of the Government’s term has passed and only four more years are left. The Government is afraid that Rajapaksa will form a political party. The investigations into the acts of fraud and corruption of the Ministers who joined the yahapalanaya (good governance) Government have now been swept under the carpet.
Q : Who if at all would be the leader of this political enterprise?
The media reports that the new political party will be led by Rajapaksa or sometimes by one of his brothers, former Secretary of Defence, Gotabaya Rajapaksa or former Minister, Basil Rajapaksa.