March 19, 2017, 10:59 pm
By Shamindra Ferdinando
SLFP rebels have taken over the SLFP lawyers’ association in the Ratnapura District as the rift between SLFP factions widens.
Ratnapura District UPFA MP Ranjith de Zoysa yesterday told The Island that the SLFP lawyers’ association had been transformed into the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) lawyers’ association with attorney-at-law Walter Perera as its Chairman. Perera held the same post in the SLFP lawyers’ association.
Former External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris leads the SLPP
“The SLPP Ratnapura branch is the first set up in the provinces since the establishment of the Colombo branch last year,” Zoysa said.
Priyantha Karunatilake (Deputy Chairman), Thushari Sooriyaarachchi (Secretary), Wijekoon Dahanayake (Treasurer) Siri Hewagama (Vice Chairman) and Seetha Ranjini, Sumith Pathirana and Indrani Ratnayake (deputy secretaries) also deserted the SLFP.
The association comprises lawyers representing Ratnapura, Pelmadulla, Balangoda and Embilipitiya courts. Karunatilake told The Island that almost half of the SLFP lawyers’ association had joined them and more were expected to switch their allegiance
Asked whether the rebels were ready to go the whole hog, MP Zoysa said that Saturday’s taking over of the SLFP Ratnapura District lawyers association would certainly strengthen their overall campaign.
Responding to another query, MP Zoysa said that in the wake of professionals and vast majority of supporters deserting the SLFP, the group in the coalition under President Maithripala Sirisena’s leadership was in crisis. The SLFP’s refusal to face local government polls for over two years after the change of government in January 2015 reflected the pathetic situation the party was in, Zoysa said.
The firebrand said that the SLFP would ignore Joint Opposition protests demanding early local government polls as it feared a massive electoral debacle. The MP pointed out that none of those who had campaigned for former war winning President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s ouster pushed for local government polls for obvious reasons. They feared to face the electorate as the country was in dire straits for want of proper governance, Ratnapura district MP said, warning yahapalana rulers of humiliating defeat at the forthcoming Provincial Council polls. “They know people hold them responsible for the pathetic situation today.”
Prof. Peiris recently told The Island that SLPP would certainly contest the forthcoming Provincial Council polls on its own. Prof. Peiris asserted that there was absolutely no likelihood of SLFP factions reaching a consensus under what he called current political conditions. The SLPP represents the SLFP-led Joint Opposition (JO).
Sabaragamuwa, North Central and Eastern Provincial Councils are scheduled to end their term in September 2017.
A confident SLFPer Zoysa said that as the government couldn’t put off PC polls under any circumstances, the JO was awaiting the opportunity to deliver a knockout blow to yahapalana rulers. The MP said assured that the PC polls results would embarrass yahapalana administration.
The MP said that as the majority of those who had been elected on the UPFA ticket at the last parliamentary polls in August 2015, they had the upper hand in any form of forthcoming election. The MP claimed that the SLFP faction now in government would be rapidly weakened in the wake of heavy PC polls defeat. Zoysa pointed out that North Central PC poll would be highly important as President Maithripala Sirisena’s home base Polonnaruwa electoral district, too, would go to polls.
Zoysa said the current SLFP leadership had made matters worse for the party by repeatedly putting off local government polls. “We are now certain to achieve a bigger victory in September. That’ll cause major political embarrassment to those in power and strengthen the JO.”
Warning of an acute political crisis, the MP pointed out that the SLFP would be compelled to face local government polls following heavy defeat in three crucial PC polls. Zoysa asserted that the developing situation could be quite advantageous to the JO.