G. L. on the war path | Daily News

G. L. on the war path

President of the pohottuwa and former minister Prof. G. L. Peiris has cleared all doubts as to the position of his fledgling political party vis-a-vis the SLFP. Addressing the media on Monday, Peiris said the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna will in future contest all elections under the leadership of Mahinda Rajapaksa and that there will be no compromising on this score. He said they of the pohottuwa party will have nothing to do with parties who were rejected by the people and that they did not want to be identified with such parties and lose the public support that was demonstrated on February 10.

He also struck a note of condescension towards the 16 SLFP MPs who quit the unity government following the abortive No Confidence Motion against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe by stating that the doors remained open for anyone to join hands with the SLPP led political force but they must submit themselves to the leadership of Mahinda Rajapaksa. This, in the backdrop of the SLFP rebels stand that although they are working towards a rapprochement between the two sides they were still with the Blue party and, what is more, support the government's good deeds and pro-people policies. They are to meet former President Mahinda Rajapaksa today and are expected to reveal their next move thereafter. Dayasiri Jayasekera has already said they were all out to bring the two sides together to fight elections as a single unit though he failed to reveal who will be the leader of the new look SLFP. This is because there can't be two power centres in a united SLFP.

How the rebels are going to get about the business of uniting the two sides, given Peiris's entrenched position, is difficult to fathom. Yesterday in these spaces we argued why such an eventuality is bound to fail. To begin with, President Sirisena has all but declared his candidacy to re-run for the Presidency in 2020 and hence any rapprochement between the two factions is doomed from the very outset. One cannot visualize the entirety of the SLFP parliamentary group abandoning the President who is the party leader, giving up their ministerial portfolios and even jettisoning their parliament seats, just to be seen in the company of Mahinda Rajapaksa, until the next election, which is nearly two years away. In any event the SLFP MPs now in the government will not take any chances in the face of the acceleration of the corruption cases against the Rajapaksas, to be stranded in no man's land.

Unification presupposes the SLFP MPs in the government quitting en masse which is not in the realm of possibility for the above reasons. Besides, as we have already argued, a mending of fences between President Sirisena and Rajapaksa too is farfetched given the degree and nature of their political estrangement. Hence, Perirs's tacit invitation to the rebels to join forces with the Rajapaksa camp is as untenable as the latter's efforts to unify the two sides of the SLFP.

Peiris, meanwhile, slipping into a sudden bout of combativeness at the press conference, declared that they of the pohotttuwa were staging a series of demonstrations, countrywide, beginning June 3, demanding that the government steps down and go for a general election so that the people will be given an opportunity to effect a regime change.

The good professor who had been the picture of dignity and decorum as a minister and parliamentarian and in his general public appearances, no doubt, has got excited and carried away by the recent local government election results.

The present government has been given a mandate by the electorate to govern for a full term, and, as Peiris, the erudite constitutional expert and scholar, is aware, there is no provision in the constitution to terminate parliament abruptly merely because the government fared poorly in local council elections. Perhaps, Peiris and the pohottuwites are fearing that the government will get its act together and remedy all the shortcomings that caused the electoral reversal on February 10.

Besides, a local government election is not a true barometer to test the pulse of the electorate in its true sense. It is widely agreed that the February 10 debacle was a protest vote by the public due to factors such as the soaring cost of living, the breakdown in the distribution of fertilizer to the farmers and the slashing of Samurdhi benefits to a sizable number of recipients. Some of the ex-ministers in the rebel group are now being accused of deliberately sabotaging the government's programmes meant for the poor to boost the vote of the pohottuwa.

It is time that the likes of Prof. G.L. Peiris, who is much respected for his academic achievements, shields himself from being spoken in the same breath as some of the riff raff in the Joint Opposition whose only aim is to enthrone the Rajapaksas back in power and bury, once and for all, all the mega-corruption charges against them and also wipe the slate of their own corrupt acts that are hanging like the sword of Damocles over their heads.


 

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