Rajapaksa faction irked by attempt to strike Prasanna Ranatunga off Gampaha list

Thursday, 9 July 2015 00:11 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Fresh tensions erupted between the pro-Sirisena and pro-Rajapaksa factions of the SLFP after a decision was made to strike Prasanna Ranatunga off the Gampaha District nomination list, Daily FT learns.

Prasanna Ranatunga, Western Province Chief Minister and staunch Rajapaksa ally, has been at the forefront of the struggle within the SLFP to bring the ex-President back into active politics. He has also organised several rallies openly calling for Rajapaksa to be elected as Prime Minister, despite President Sirisena’s explicit statement that the former President would not be nominated as PM candidate of the SLFP or the UPFA.

The move to deny him nominations to contest in the parliamentary election has angered the Rajapaksa camp, Daily FT learns. Several key allies of the former President are once again trying to push him to field a new alliance and contest separately, highly placed sources said.

Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga, who has overseen the Gampaha District SLFP list, has recommended striking off the Chief Minister, since giving him a nomination would mean three Ranatunga brothers would contest in the district at the poll.

SLFP MP Ruwan Ranatunga will have to be granted nominations because he was the sitting MP for the party in the district, while former cricket skipper Arjuna Ranatunga will also receive nominations since he is a cabinet minister and a strong Sirisena loyalist.

Kumaratunga has strongly argued that three members of the same family cannot contest in the Gampaha District, Daily FT learns.

She has also recommended striking several other loyalists of President Rajapaksa off the SLFP Gampaha list, including Provincial Councillor Samanmalee Sakalasooriya and Meryl Perera.

The ex-President is pushing hard to have all of his loyalists included in the UPFA list, Daily FT learns, even though many of them are being prosecuted for corruption.

UPFA leaders are locked in negotiations again to try and get consensus on the latest point of contention.