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President proposed Chamal’s name for PM candidate at last General Election: SB

President Maithripala Sirisena proposed that Chamal Rajapaksa be chosen as the Prime Ministerial candidate at the last General Election and if the former President and the SLFP supporters had agreed to this compromise, we would have been able to win 120 seats to form a SLFP government, Social Empowerment, Welfare and Kandyan Heritage Minister and SLFP Treasurer, S.B. Dissanayake said.

Dissanayake addressing a media briefing held at the SLFP Party Headquarters at Darley Road yesterday traced the critical mistakes in the history of the Party as it gears up to celebrate its 66th Convention on September 3.

“When the General Election came, the President wanted to keep Mahinda Rajapaksa; who had lost the election aside and choose from his own family, a person who didn’t have allegations of corruption, to make as the SLFP Prime Ministerial candidate under his leadership. The UNP could field their candidate,” Minister Dissanayake said.

“Mahinda Rajapaksa agreed to it at first but then later wanted to manage the elections. The defeat at the Presidential election, he saw as a conspiracy and that it was impossible for him to lose. He thought that there was a Mahinda Tsunami in the peoples’ hearts and he wanted to return. But as party seniors we thought otherwise. We pointed out to him that the Muslim vote which stood at 15 percent had dropped to 2 percent, Catholic vote from 45 percent to 25 percent, the Tamil vote from 30 to 15 percent and our own youth votes had gone to the ‘Swan’ and people who had only voted for SLFP, voting for the Swan. At that time, the President didn’t want the party to break so he withdrew from the election fight and during that election, we face a bad defeat. Our 5.8 million vote base was reduced to 4.7 million. We saw the people keep away from the President and his supporters and vote for those of Mahinda Rajapaksa,” explained Dissanayake. The President, he said further had done much to protect the SLFP and its supporters,’though we did all we could to defeat him at the 2015 Presidential election’. Dissanayake who was appointed as the SLFP Treasurer in 2015 said the UNP had pushed for General Elections soon after the Presidential elections but it was the President who postponed it and prevented a historical defeat for the party at the General.

“At the same time, many SLFPers were victimised soon after the Presidential elections and not allowed to come to work, etc… but the President resolved all those grievances,” he added.

Despite the losses however, Dissanayake pointed out that the SLFP’s incumbent has built up the party faster than during previous occasions when the party had faced similar splits.

“The 64th Convention we held in Polonnaruwa with the attendance of Mahinda Rajapaksa, and the one in Kurunegala saw a bigger crowd. We believe that at Campbell Park this year, the turnout will be even greater than last year,” he said.

“The SLFP established in 1951, for those who opted for the middle ground between the bourgeoisie UNP and the Communist LSSP, has Dissanayake said established strong foundations which help built the country’s hoeme grown economy.

Dissanayake believes that the country would have been much better developed today if the UNP in 1978 had followed at least some of its(SLFP) policies.

“The SLFP today, too believed that enterprise should not be completely privatised,said Dissanayake and added that the SLFP faction in government will go into the 66th Convention with the economic vision that the government needs to have at least some control of state enterprises and that only management should be improved.

Coincidentally, this year’s Convention falls on the birthday of President Maithripala Sirisena, as the President himself turns 66. He is expected to make a special statement on the day.