In case former President Mahinda Rajapaksa is unable to contest the upcoming General Election under the UPFA due to a breakdown in the Mahinda-Maithri collaboration, Rajapaksa is scheduled to contest under the Our Sri Lanka Freedom Front (Ape Sri Lanka Nidahas Peramuna) with the symbol of a budding flower.
The party which was formerly named Sri Lanka National Front with the symbol cricket bat recently changed its name to ‘Ape Sri Lanka Nidahas Peramuna’ and symbol to a budding flower.
A release was recently published with the signature of UPFA General Secretary Susil Premajayantha that President Maithripala Sirisena has agreed to give former President Mahinda Rajapaksa nomination through the UPFA.
However speculation was rife that the release had been issued arbitrarily by Premajantha without the explicit consent of President Maithripala Sirisena. A statement to this effect was published under a Facebook page that claimed to be of former MP Arjuna Ranatunga who had attributed it to former President Chandrika Bandaranayake Kumaratunga. However when contacted by Ada Derana Ranatunga claimed that the Facebook page for a bogus one.
Regardless political analysts state that with the majority of the SLFP Central Committee backing affording nominations to Rajapaksa and the faction led by Kumaratunga maintaining strongly that nominations should be withheld, a split in the SLFP is imminent.
Incidentally due to this political uncertainty the next rally in the series ‘Stand up with Mahinda’ scheduled to be held in Anuradhapura on July 9 has been cancelled. This rally was slotted to officially kick off the election propaganda campaign.
In this context President Maithripala Sirisena said that he is not prepared to betray the peoples’ revolution that began on January 8.
Rights after the decision to afford nomination for Rajapaksa, Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka said that the Jathika Hela Urumaya will depart from the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) and will contest under a new front at the forthcoming general election.
Meanwhile SLFP Treasurer and Minister S.B. Nawinne announced that he will join the United National Party (UNP) and contest the upcoming General Election from the UNP ticket. Media reports claim that Minister Arjuna Ranatunga is also holding talks with UNP officials to form a Front under the UNP.
Due to these circumstances if there is a breakdown in the Mahinda-Maithri collaboration those who are backing the former President is prepared to contest under the budding flower symbol.