MR to avoid May Day rallies

Friday, 1 May 2015 00:02 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Shanika Sriyananda Contrary to high expectations, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa is to avoid key May Day rallies to which he has been invited, though some are still hopeful he will. Senior member of the SLFP and Parliamentarian John Seneviratne told the Daily FT that the party and the UPFA have invited the ex-President to join them in the May Day rallies but he has decided to remain silence. “He would not participate in either of their May Day rallies,” Seneviratne said. He said there were rumors that Rajapaksa would appear in one of these rallies but since he didn’t want a division in the SLFP, he had decided to avoid taking part in them. SLFP General Secretary Anura Priyadarshana however sounded optimistic. According to him, the former President has accepted the invitation to join its rally to be held at Hyde Park today. Opposition Leader Nimal Siripala de Silva told the media on Wednesday that the SLFP was hopeful that Rajapaksa would be there for the May Day rally. De Silva however said that Rajapaksa had accepted the SLFP’s invitation but his participation was not confirmed yet. According to sources, pro-MR Parliamentarians of the UPFA has also invited Rajapaksa to participate in their joint May Day Rally at Kirulapone. Parliamentarians Dinesh Gunawardena, Wimal Weerawansa and Vasudeva Nanayakkara are organising this separate May Day rally to support Rajapaksa to bring him back to active politics. However, Wijayananda Herath, the Spokesman for the ex-President, confirmed that he would not take part in any of the rallies in Colombo. The SLFP will start its rally from the Nelum Pokuna junction and D.R. Wijewardena Mawatha and will proceed to Hyde Park.

MS-MR meet post-Vesak?

  Giving fresh hopes to SLFPers, a discussion between President Maithripala Sirisena and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa will be held early next week. “All SLFPers expect them to get together to make the party strong to face the forthcoming elections,” MP John Seneviratne said, adding that the senior SLFP MPs were negotiating with President Sirisena and former President Rajapaksa to get a fresh date soon. The meeting between them was initially scheduled for last week but was postponed as former President Rajapaksa had to participate in another event out of Colombo, he said. Seneviratne said that all SLFP MPs in the Opposition and those in the Sirisena Government expected the duo to meet. “They will be discussing their future plans to bring unity among SLFP Parliamentarians, their plans to revive the party to face the forthcoming elections and matters relating to resolving any disputes among party members,” he noted. He said a team of senior Parliamentarians, including himself, SLFP General Secretary Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, UPFA General Secretary Susil Premjayantha, Mahinda Samarasinghe and Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, met the former President to negotiate a meeting between him and President Sirisena. Seneviratne said that Rajapaksa has given them an assurance that he would not take any decision to create a division in the SLFP. “He also assured that he would never leave the party. We informed him about the possible threats to the SLFP if it is divided into few camps. He agreed with us and assured to take every effort to keep the party intact,” he said. Seneviratne said the SLFPers wanted the party to have a common leadership and wanted to see the party united to bring it back to power.