Future of SLPP-SLFP grand alliance in the making uncertain
Posted on March 17th, 2019

The outcome of talks between the SLPP and the SLFP, for a grand coalition against the UNP was in the balance, political sources told The Island. The SLPP and SLFP are scheduled to meet again on March 21 following their first round of talks on March 14 at the Opposition Leader’s Office. SLPP Chairman Prof. G.L. Peiris and SLFP General Secretary Dayasiri Jayasekera led the two delegations.

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Some SLFP MPs reneged on their pledge to vote with the Joint Opposition/SLPP against the second reading of budget 2019 on March 12.

One-time SLFP General Secretary Anura Priyadarshana Yapa yesterday described the SLFP move as atrocious. The UPFA unanimously agreed in parliament at around 11 am on March 12 to vote against the second reading of the budget and a section of the SLFP had shamelessly violated the agreement, Kurunegala District MP Yapa said. He was responding to The Island, which sought an explanation as to why the UPFA couldn’t adopt a common stand at the first crucial vote following the unification of SLFP factions on Oct 26, 2018.

Though the SLFP went back on its word, four lawmakers, National List MP Dilan Perera, Lakshman Wasantha Perera (Matale), Sriyani Wijewickreme (Digamadulla) and Nishantha Muthuhettigama (Galle) had voted with the JO, MP Yapa said.

Responding to another query, MP Yapa said that the budget 2019 had been passed with a majority of 43 seats due to the SLFP’s treacherous move. However, the SLFP move had resulted in four of its members switching allegiance to the JO/SLPP on March 12, MP Yapa said.

Participating in ongoing SLPP countrywide programme ‘A Conversation with village’ at Yatiyantota, on Saturday, (March 16), the former SLFP General Secretary blasted those who betrayed the March 12 move against the UNP, Yapa warned of dire consequences unless the SLFP took a firm decision.

SLPP delegation comprising Jagath Wellawatta and Dullas Alahapperuma would take up this issue with the SLFP at the next round of talks, a senior SLPP official told The Island. Asked whether the SLPP was concerned over the SLFP move, the official said: “In our approach to the next round of talks on March 21, this is at the forefront of our planning.”

Several UPFA lawmakers, including Rohitha Abeygunawardena and Piyal Nishantha de Silva, on Saturday (March 16) criticised the SLFP decision following the conclusion of the ‘A Conversation with village’ programme, spearheaded by SLPP Chief Basil Rajapaksa.

Basil Rajapaksa, last week, declared that the project was meant to decide on an action programme to be implemented by the party following the 2019 presidential election.

Kalutara District MP de Silva yesterday told The Island that there was absolutely no point in continuing talks with the SLFP unless that party firmly committed itself to the ongoing operation against the UNP. Asserting that the SLPP should take up the issue at the next round of talks, De Silva said that the top SLFP leadership was engaged in a strategy inimical to those opposed to the UNP.

Responding to another query, the SLFPer dismissed attempts to justify the SLFP skipping the vote on UNP decision to prevent a division on President Maithripala Sirisena’s Expenditure Heads. How could the UNP backbenchers voted against the President’s Expenditure Heads when he functioned as the head of the UNP cabinet, MP de Silva queried. The SLFPer said that the SLFP would have to prove its sincerity by voting against the budget on April 5, 2015 at the third reading. According to the MP the April 5 vote would help the JO/SLPP to take a firm decision.

Altogether 119 voted for the budget whereas 76 voted against. Rebel UNP lawmakers Wijeyadasa Rajapakse and Ananda Aluthgamage as well as MP Susil Premjayantha who were expected to vote against the budget accompanied President Sirisena on a visit to Kenya. UNP MP S.B. Navinna, too, was among President Sirisena’s delegation.

In spite of her father’s funeral on that day, Gampaha District MP Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle, rushed to parliament after 5.00 pm to vote against the budget. Fernandopulle was on her way to parliament when President Sirisena, accompanied by Dayasiri Jayasekera and Mahinda Amaraweera arrived at her Welihena residence to pay their last respects. Fernadopulle was among Group of 16 comprising SLFP lawmakers who resigned from the government just over a week after a no-confidence Motion moved against Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe over Central Bank treasury bond scams, by the Joint Opposition in the first week of April 2018 failed to muster the required simple majority.

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