- Tensions heighten between SLPP and SLFP
- Prasanna calls SLPP supporters to refrain from backing SLFP
- Charges SLFP failed to support SLPP post-2015
- SLFP unhappy at being in line of fire but says will continue to support President
By Nuwan Senarathna
Tensions between the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) escalated yesterday, with Industrial Exports, Investment Promotion, Tourism and Aviation Minister Prasanna Ranatunga calling on SLPP supporters to step back from supporting former President Maithripala Sirisena and his faction, insisting the SLPP should stay ahead of the preferential vote race.
|Minister Prasanna Ranatunga
Speaking to Daily FT, Ranatunga said that the public were aware of those who stayed loyal to Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa even after he lost his presidency and only they would get votes to be elected to Parliament. He argued it was important to recognise these loyalists as they will not cross sides for personal benefits once the elections are over.
“Former President Maithripala Sirisena and former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s rule destroyed the country. Sajith Premadasa was also a Minister of that Government. Those who were members of the previous administration should also be held responsible for the situation that has arisen today. No one can break free from that responsibility,” he said.
Ranatunga claimed those who were loyal to Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa during the last four and a half years had become victims of a political witch-hunt. He questioned why former President Sirisena’s loyalists failed to stand by SLPP members when they were being politically victimised.
“When we were subject to political witch hunts there was no one to stand against that in former President Sirisena’s camp. Considering what they did during the last four and a half years, how can we trust them?” he questioned.
Meanwhile, former MP Janaka Wakkumbura told media yesterday that the public should decide wisely and support to elect those who were loyal to Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. He charged those who joined their camp soon before the Presidential Election failed to protect them when they were oppressed by the previous administration.
SLFP General Secretary Dayasiri Jayasekara on Friday expressed his displeasure about comments made by SLPP members criticising SLFPers.
“What will happen to Gotabaya Rajapaksa if those loyal to Maithripala Sirisena had not voted in favour of him? Then he would have lost the Presidential Election. At that time, Prasanna Ranatunga could have said that they do not want the votes of those with links to Maithripala Sirisena.”
He also claimed that certain SLPP members were attempting to destroy the SLFP. However, Jayasekara assured that they would support President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to form a strong Government to deliver his promises.