He said that in January 2015, when a new leader took over an undivided SLFP he made no attempt to retain the leadership of the SLFP at that time because of the need to preserve the unity of the party.
“Both I and the party rank and file believed that no harm would befall the party under the leadership of an individual who had been a party member for four decades and its General Secretary for 13 years. Even though many members of the opposition felt we should have contested the 2015 Parliamentary election separately, we contested that election under the SLFP and the UPFA because of our desire to protect the party. Even at that time, we did have serious misgivings about the new SLFP leader’s conduct,” he said.
Rajapaksa said that the moment Sirisena became President, the present leader of the SLFP gave the Prime Ministership to the UNP which had only 43 Members of Parliament.
“Though this sent shockwaves through the membership of the SLFP, there was the expectation that things would change once he became the leader of the SLFP. But that too did not happen. Even after becoming the leader of the SLFP and the UPFA which had a two thirds majority in parliament, the new SLFP leader only used this majority to keep the UNP government in power. Furthermore, he deprived the SLFP and the UPFA of a political advantage they had by dissolving the Local Government institutions that were mostly controlled by the UPFA,” he said.
Rajapaksa noted that from time to time during the past two years, SLFP parliamentarians in the opposition have been removed from their electoral organiser positions by the SLFP leader.
“Removing popular figures in the SLFP from their electoral organiser positions is a move calculated not to strengthen the SLFP but to ensure the victory of the UNP. Among the opposition SLFP parliamentarians sacked from their electoral organiserships are Prasanna Ranatunga, Bandula Gunawardena, Geetha Kumarasinghe, Gamini Lokuge, Sanath Nishantha, Piyal Nishantha, Johnston Fernando, Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, Keheliya Rambukwella, Pavithara Wanniarachchi, Rohitha Abeygunawardene, Jagath Balasuriya, C.B.Ratnayake, Janaka Bandara Tennakoon, Lohan Ratwatte, Anura Vidanagamage, Salinda Disanayake, Mohan Silva, Tikiri Adikari, D.B.Herath and Kanchana Wijesekera. In the latest round of purges, Janaka Bandara Tennakon has been sacked with no account taken of the immense services rendered by him to the SLFP in the Matale district,” he said.
Rajapaksa said the party leader has to take the entire responsibility for causing a split in the SLFP by removing the most popular individuals in the party from their electoral organiserships.
Rajapaksa invited all members of the SLFP who are against their party being turned into a tail of the UNP and the members of the public who are against the anti-national actions of this government to attend the anti-government May Day rally at Galle Face and thereby send a forceful message to the dysfunctional, repressive Government. (Colombo Gazette)