SLFP won’t ‘stop political musical chairs’, members free to move
By Shamindra Ferdinando
Mar 4, 2010
SLFP General Secretary Minister Maithripala Sirisena yesterday (March 2) defended the right of UPFA Provincial Council ministers and members to quit PCs to contest the upcoming parliamentary polls.

He said the party couldn’t deny them an opportunity to join the parliamentary election fray, though they had received a mandate to serve the people though the PC system.

Sirisena said the SLFP-led ruling coalition gave priority to those who had polled a large number of preferential votes at previous election.

He was responding to a query by The Island whether the SLFP would allow elected PC members to quit without serving their full term to contest parliamentary polls, thereby paving way for rejected PC candidates to enter councils.

Sirisena said that it was a generally accepted practice that local government members were given nominations to contest PC polls and leading PC members received an opportunity to contest parliamentary polls.

More than 100 SLFP, UNP, JVP and NFF PC members are in the parliamentary election fray. Among them are R. Duminda Silva, Tilanga Sumathipala and Rosy Senanayake (WPC) and Ranjan Ramanayake (Sabaragamuwa PC).

Addressing the media at the Mahaweli Centre, Minister Sirisena said the party would not interfere with anyone contesting parliamentary election or any other election, though a candidate’s application needed to be approved by respective nomination boards. He said the UPFA fielded 275 candidates in 22 electoral districts.

"Most of them will be elected. They will be part of President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s team," he said.

He emphasised that the President had advised UPFA candidates to conduct a violence-free election campaign.

The President is determined to ensure a free and fair poll, Sirisena added.

The SLFP General Secretary expressed confidence that the electorate would give the President a two-thirds majority in Parliament, necessary to implement Mahinda Chintanaya II.

Sirisena said a two-thirds majority was a necessity to cause far reaching constitutional changes for the benefit of the country.

He pointed out that the UNP-led United National Front (UNF) and the JVP-led Democratic National Alliance (DNA) could not meet the UPFA’s political challenge. They would not survive the April 8 election, he said asserting the UNP was much weaker than the SLFP during the 1977-1989 period.

According to him, the SLFP never collapsed like the UNP did even at the height of the UNP supremacy during the JRJ administration.

Referring to the election of 39 JVPers at the last parliamentary polls in April 2004, he said the Marxist party then boasted that it would form the next government. But he said the JVP was a much weakened political force today struggling to survive in the face of increasing pressure.

He said that no one could challenge the President’s achievements. Giving political leadership to defeat the LTTE was one of them, he said adding that another most important achievements was deciding against the controversial privatisation programme. For years the government waged war against the LTTE until the army finished off V Prabhakaran on the banks of the Nanthikadal lagoon, he said.

Despite severe economic difficulties, the government never sold public enterprises, he pointed out.

Courtesy: Island