Rebels to launch new alliance, initiate talks with GL-Dallas group

‘All-Party initiative dead horse’

By Shamindra Ferdinando

A disgruntled section of the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) intends to launch a new coalition, on Sunday (04), against President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government.

The group includes former SLPP ministers Vasudeva Nanayakkara (Democratic Left Front), Wimal Weerawansa (Jathika Nidahas Peramuna) and Udaya Gammanpila (Pivithuru Hela Urumaya). The new alliance would be launched at the National Youth Services Council, Maharagama, at 3 pm with the participation of rebel members. The CP, LSSP and Yuthukama Jathika Sanvidhanaya, too, are members of the coalition. They are all constituents of the SLPP grouping.The rebel group consists of 12 lawmakers, including one National List member Gevindu Cumaratunga, all elected /appointed on the SLPP ticket. The SLPP won 145 seats, including 17 National List slots at the last general election.

In addition to them, Ven. Atureliye Rathana thera, appointed member of the Our Power of People Party (OPPP) has joined the grouping.The SLPP rebel group said that they would press President Wickremesinghe to call an early general election challenging the government claim of inability to hold polls as the country continued to experience political instability. The much-touted All-Party Government (APG) seemed nothing but a dead horse, the group said, urging President Wickremesinghe and the SLPP to give up the idea.

The group acknowledged that some of those who had been involved in the original protest campaign launched against the Yugadanavi deal finalized in Sept last year wouldn’t be joining the new coalition for the moment.The 14-member SLFP parliamentary group and lawmakers A.L.M. Athaulla, Tiran Alles and Asanka Navaratne representing different political parties backed the high profile anti-Yugadanavi deal campaign. Since then Alles (SLPP National List) has accepted a ministerial portfolio.

At a recent meeting of the rebel group held at the CP office at Borella, NFF leader Wimal Weerawansa emphasized the need for a wider national programme to address the grievances of the public. The former minister said that the new alliance should redirect the country on the right path. Among those present on the occasion was SLPP MP Premanath Dolawatta, convenor of Sathya Gaweshakayo.In the wake of SLPP Chairman Prof. G.L. Peiris declaring in parliament last Friday (Aug 31) that a group of 13 SLPP members, including himself would function as an independent group, PHU leader Gammanpila said that they could now enter into talks with 13 rebels to explore ways and means of reaching a consensus.

The 13-member group consist of Prof. Peiris, Dullas Alahapperuma, Dilan Perera, Dr. Nalaka Godahewa, Prof. Charitha Herath, Prof. Channa Jayasumana, K.P.S. Kumarasiri, Dr. Gunapala Ratnasekera, Wasantha Yapa Bandara, Tilak Rajapaksa, Lalith Ellawela, Udayana Kirindigoda and Upul Galappatti.

Responding to The Island query, the Attorney-at-Law Gammanpila said: “Our group backed Dallas Alahapperuma at the presidential contest conducted on July 20. We couldn’t initiate talks as they remained members of the SLPP. With the announcement made by Prof. Peiris, that obstacle has been removed. We have prepared a common programme. Therefore, we can now enter into talks based on that programme.”

The SLPP rebels and the main Opposition party the Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) voted for MP Alahapperuma, who polled 82 votes. The winner Wickremesinghe secured 134 votes in spite of the UNP with just a single vote of his. The SJB won 54 seats at the last general election. Of them, Manusha Nanayakkara and Harin Fernando have accepted ministerial portfolios against the wishes of the party.

Political sources said that the SLFP has been deeply divided over its strategy due to two seniors Nimal Siripala de Silva and Mahinda Amaraweera accepting ministerial portfolios regardless of a party directive. Both ministers have indicated that they wouldn’t quit the government under any circumstances.

Political sources said that though the group led by Prof. Peiris –Alahapperuma had a far bigger group at the onset of the crisis that forced Gotabaya Rajapaksa to give up presidency, some of them later reverted much to the dismay of the group, possibly due to unprecedented violence unleashed by the agitation, while claiming to be non-violent and non-partisan.Sources pointed out that of the 145-member SLPP group, about 20 had now distanced themselves from the party and were exploring the possibility of taking a new path. However, the SLPP still retained a clear simple majority in Parliament therefore didn’t expect any serious challenge at the moment.

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