68: milestone for SLFP | Daily News

68: milestone for SLFP

SLFP strategy to mobilize a political force to get a strong Parliamentary mandate in 2020

“SLFP is 68 years old today (September 3). I am also 68 today. Let us mobilize people’s movements and form a new government in 2020”

President Maithripala Sirisena’s above statement and several other points he made at the 68th-anniversary celebrations of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) indicate the options available to the SLFP to play a decisive role in the next government. At the same time, he pointed out that the primary focus of SLFP should be to win the next parliamentary elections scheduled for 2020 rather than the presidential election slated for November/December 2019.

Although the 19th Amendment to Constitution curtailed the powers of Executive President and devolved those powers with the Parliament and the Prime Minister, the intense interest on the upcoming Presidential election has not diminished. While two candidates – Gotabaya Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) and Anura Kumara Dissanayake of Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) – are already in the field, the United National Party (UNP) and SLFP are yet to name their choices. With the Supreme Court’s interpretation that the President has no power to gazette the delimitation report or hold the Provincial Council Elections under the old electoral system, the Presidential Election will precede the PC elections.

President Sirisena’s comment on the limitations of Presidential power is a clear indication that the SLFP’s main focus would be on next year’s Parliamentary election, rather than the Presidential election. That does not rule out the SLFP playing a decisive role at the Presidential election. He described the SLFP 68th anniversary celebration as the first rally of the Presidential campaign. “Let’s create a broad people-oriented political movement and form a government committed to SLFP policies in 2020,” was the message SLFP President Sirisena gave to his party activists.

While talking about the SLFP victory, he stressed the point that the victory must be achieved through a broad alliance of like-minded political forces committed to honest, ethical, uncorrupt political practices. He urged that the country needed to have wise politicians, who work for the country honestly. Instead, most of the politicians today are selfish and they work for themselves rather than working for people and the country, he said. “The SLFP has a historic responsibility to steer the country toward the right direction. For the SLFP, the main concern was the welfare of the people and not the concentration of power as desired by others. For this reason, the people needed to elect a Parliament which will represent the mass of people and who will work for the whole nation, especially in the interests of the poor and downtrodden.”

Best political leader

According to President Sirisena, patriotism is the last refuge of the political scoundrel, as evident from the actions of some politicians. He urged the people to properly study what politicians say to pick the best political leader for the country.

The 68th anniversary of the SLFP held in the background, in which the party is faced with massive challenges. Many questions about the future of the SLFP. This is a political party that has undergone and overcome many challenges in the past.

Within one year from the formation, the SLFP faced the first Parliamentary Election in 1952 and secured nine seats with the founder-leader S W R D Bandaranaike being appointed as the opposition leader.

In 1956 Bandaranaike was elected Prime Minister after the SLFP contested the General Election together with several other parties as one powerful force under the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna and won 51 seats.

The first crisis was the assassination of Bandaranaike in 1959. However, after overcoming initial reluctance, Sirimavo Bandaranaike accepted the leadership to become the Prime Minister in July 1960.

The party survived the bitter sibling rivalry in the 1980s when Anura Bandaranaike, son of the founder-leader late Prime Minister Bandaranaike, revolted against his mother, the then SLFP leader Sirimavo Bandaranaike. Anura had public differences with his mother Sirimavo and sister Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga. Deputy leader Maithripala Senanayake too joined Anura in the revolt. Subsequently, Anura’s sister Chandrika and her husband Vijaya Kumaranatunga left the party to form a new front.

However, all those who left the SLFP returned to the party at different stages. In 2014 the SLFP General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena left the party to contest Presidential elections of January 8, 2015, successfully. After the elections, he accepted the invitation to be the SLFP President.

President Sirisena-led cohabitation government of SLFP-UNP faced many problems due to serious policy differences. The President said at the SLFP Convention on Tuesday that so-called elite politics had reversed Sri Lanka in every aspect and deceived the people. He added that it was important to reveal the perpetrators of the infamous Central Bank Bond Scam which disgraced the current government in an unrecoverable way. He added that those who assume themselves to be saints are already preparing for the next Presidential election, but in the near future information could come to light. He went on to note that documents required to seek extradition of Arjuna Mahendran have been prepared and they have information to put away individuals more powerful than Arjuna Mahendran.

19th amendment

He further noted that those who are in government and the opposition are plotting with the politicians in the North to get votes while billions were wasted on drafting a new constitution for over a four and half years. He revealed that he could not take straight forward decisions as his predecessors did as the 19th amendment stripped him off of his powers to a certain extent.

The President noted that whoever gets appointed to the office of President would spend over Rs 4.5bn on the election, ultimately to realize that this is a powerless position now. He added that the president would not be vested at least with the Ministry of Defence and all powers would lie with the Prime Minister.

In these circumstances, the best option available to SLFP is to campaign hard to mobilize a political force that could usher in a clean government through a strong Parliamentary mandate in 2020. This will be the immediate strategy of the SLFP.

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