Newly-appointed SLFP General Secretary Dayasiri Jayasekara with President and SLFP leader Maithripala Sirisena at the ceremony when the former assumed duties at SLFP Headquarters yesterday – Pic by Shehan Gunasekara
- Dayasiri assuming duties as new Gen. Sec invites all Parliamentarians who joined SLPP to re-join party
- Says biggest challenge is reuniting party, establishing member discipline
- SLFP to run for next elections as a broader alliance with other parties
- Restructuring to focus on youth leadership
By Chathuri Dissanayake
Sri Lanka Freedom Party yesterday called on Parliamentarians who left to join Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) to come back to rebuild the party.
The newly appointed Party General Secretary Dayasiri Jayasekara, holding his maiden media briefing after he assumed duties at the Party Head Office, issued an open invitation to all members and supporters who moved away from the party to come back, promising to dedicate his time to rebuild the party.
“First I request all our Parliamentarians who have joined the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna Peramuna to come and join Sri Lanka Freedom Party. Second I request our supporters to join us,” Dayasiri said extending an open invitation to those who left the party in the recent times.
Jayasekara, speaking to media flanked by outgoing General Secretary Prof. Rohana Ranjith Piyadasa and SLFP Vice President Nimal Siripala de Silva, said that his biggest challenge as the new General Secretary is reuniting the party which has been scattered into different groups.
“The first challenge is to establish harmony in the Party, I have to rally those groups which hold different views in the Party to one point. I am not talking about the personal agendas, but as a Party we have to reunite. Second is to build grass-root level supporter group, third is forming a government,” he said.
Noting that his commitment and political strength will help him face the challenges, de Silva said that the work ahead of Jayasekara is not easy and requires discipline.
“He has to do it with much discipline, the SLFP has faced a lot of issues as people have worked without discipline, and they have worked for private agendas. The President has also got into trouble as people were furthering private agendas. So I urge him to set aside personal agendas and work, often Parties are ruined when you attempt to work to further own interests without focusing on the Party,” he said.
Jayasekara too subscribed to the idea, noting that the discipline in the Party is a key concern for him, although he was not clear what action the SLFP will be taking against those who took membership in the SLPP.
Noting that the party has always functioned as an alliance rather than a single party, Jayasekara said that they are looking at forming a broader alliance with smaller parties.
However, de Silva said that the Party will still hold talks with different political groups, including SLPP, to form an alliance to face next elections.
“We have always worked as a broader alliance from the beginning, even now we have the United Peoples’ Freedom Alliance (UPFA). We are willing to work with SLPP and all other smaller leftist parties to come together and form an alliance. It will not happen overnight, it is a long process and the discussions are ongoing,” de Silva said.
The current restructuring program of the party, which will run parallel to the discussions on alliance formation, will also focus on giving more opportunities to the youth in the party who have not had the chance to rise up the ranks, Jayasekara said.
“There are many who have worked for the Party for long years and have been at the Local Government and Provincial level, who have aspirations to develop in their political career, and we would focus on giving them a chance,” he said.
“If we don’t do that, there is no chance of preventing the SLFP from going into oblivion,” he said.
Jayasekara also noted that the Party will always stand for a non-extremist, non-racist moderate party.