(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) – The recent success at the Local Government Election does not qualify former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to become the Opposition Leader, Fisheries and Aquatic Development Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said yesterday.
He also pointed out that there is no legal provision for such an appointment. The minister was speaking at a press brief held at the SLFP headquarters, last afternoon.
The minster explaining the legal position behind such a situation pointed out that all MPs representing the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) are members of the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA).
“The UPFA and the SLFP Central Committee decided to join the unity government in 2015, which means we are a part of this government. We cannot request the position of Opposition Leader while being a part of the Government,” he explained.
“When we decided to support a National Government, a group of SLFP/UPFA MPs requested us to allow them to sit in the Opposition. Our leader President Maithripala Sirisena allowed them to do so, because he wanted to ensure the democratic rights of everybody. If the SLFP Central Committee decided against it, most of these MPs would not be in Parliament anymore,” Minister Amaraweera further pointed out.
He also said the same group is misusing this opportunity by establishing another political party and promoting it.
“Just because they have formed another political party, it does not mean that they could get the Opposition Leader post,” he added.
Asked if former President Mahinda Rajapaksa still holds the position of Adviser to the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, Minister Amaraweera said he does. “He should reflect on whether what he is doing is correct or not.”
Asked if SLFP is to continue allowing former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to stay as a SLFP member while forming and supporting another political party, Minister Amaraweera said the Central Committee is currently discussing the matter at length.
Meanwhile, Minister Duminda Dissanayake speaking on the SLFP votes received at the LG polls, said that during the previous regime, personal propaganda was given priority than promoting the political party.
“For the last 10 years we promoted the brand name of Mahinda Rajapaksa for all the things done by the previous government. We kept chanting his name for all the good work done,” Minister Dissanayake said.
Minister Dissanayake also said the SLPP exploited former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s image to succeed in the recent Local Government Election. “Nobody knew who their representatives were. Now, in Maharagama there are several candidates who don’t even have residency in the area.
All they did was to promote Rajapaksa’s image. They mislead the people saying that they can make Mahinda Rajapaksa the Prime Minister of this country by this election result. This is not politics but cheap moves. They are striving for their personal gains. It is time people understand this,” Minister Dissanayake pointed out.
He also said if someone is trying to compare the Local Government Election to a referendum, it is a futile exercise to mislead people.
“Now, imagine if another political party wins at the Provincial Council Election, should it ask the government to give up its office and request the SLPP to hand over the Local Governments to them as well. Where is the logic there? What the SLPP should be doing right now is to start working for the people who voted for them at the grass root level. If they want to come to power, they will have to win the next General Election. So don’t play with the democracy of this country,” Minister Dissanayake also said.