Will Maithri make Mahinda prime minister?

All these days Mahinda used the SLFP to establish a ‘Family Kingdom’ and then throw away the party men curry leaves. Maithri and all others fell into the category of curry leaves under Mahinda. In everything the saying goes that every dog has its’ day. Who knows that this is the time that Mahinda would be used and thrown away like curry leaves?

by Upul Joseph Fernando

( July 29, 2015, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) This is guessing time in the SLFP. All keep their fingers crossed. Some look up the sky wondering while others seem to be at crossroads. Their guess is; who would be the next Prime Minister in case the SLFP/UPFA wins. Many voices are heard within these two entities. Who decides? Who is the final authority? A glance to the past would provide the answer.

‘President Maithripala Sirisena should appoint the Prime Minister who commands the majority in Parliament…’ This was the legal argument Professor G.L. Peiris to counter Maithri’s position that he (Maithri) will not appoint Mahinda as Prime Minister. Editor of ‘Ravaya’ newspaper, Victor Ivan wrote an article on how the People’s Alliance (PA) struggled to get the premiership in 1994 after wining only 105 seats. G.L. Peiris entered politics in that year.

150108133933-sri-lanka-split-exlarge-169As the election results were being released, the then UNP Minister Ronnie de Mel visited President D.B. Wijetunga and argued that the President should appoint Ms. Sirima Bandaranaike as Prime Minister and not Chandrika Kumaratunga. De Mel pointed out that Ms. Bandaranaike was planning to abolish the Executive Presidency and set up the independent commissions before retiring from politics.

SLMC support

While De Mel was making such moves with Wijetunga, Gamini Dissanayake was busy talking to M.H.M. Ashraff of the SLMC to get his support to form a government to become the Prime Minister.

Wijetunga sought time to appoint a Prime Minister in order to give space for Gamini’s plan. Ranil who opposed the move to give the Premiership to Gamini packed his bags and left Temple Trees. Whilst these developments were going on, Victor Ivan in his article stated that well known business magnate Thiru Nadesan married to Nirupama Rajapaksa had gone to see J.R. Jayewardene to convince Wijetunga to offer the Premiership to Chandrika. JR had a fear that if Ms. Bandaranaike was made the Prime Minister she would take revenge on him for having deprived her of her civic rights. Chandrika assured that she would not take revenge from JR. So Victor Ivan in his article stated that JR pressurized Wijetunga to name Chandrika as Prime Minister. Ranil had also told JR to pressurize Wijetunga to do the same. That was how Chandrika who had the majority became Prime Minister after almost kneeling before President Wijetunga. The President engaged in this game of chess being the leader of the defeated party at the elections.

98342_Untitled-1However, Maithri does not stand in the position Wijetunga stood at that time.He is the leader of the SLFP. If the party leader is the President and his party wins, it is he who decides who would be the next Prime Minister. A journalist asked Maithri in 2010 from Maithri the following question; “In this document it is stated that the JVP proposed your name as Prime Minister in 2004. Do you think that you would get that post deprived then after the 2010 election?” Maithri replied, “The SLFP is a democratic party. The Premier will be chosen by the Party Leader who is the President. We will accept his decision”. Furthermore, following is a statement made by Nimal Siripala de Silva about the post of Prime Minister; “The post of Prime Minister will be offered by the President at the right time to the right person. That is a right and prerogative of the President. We in the party should not battle over that issue.” Both Maithri and Nimal are correct on the issue.

Advent of DBW

  • In 1989, though Gamini Dissanayake and Lalith Athulathmudali obtained higher preferences, Premadasa gave the Premiership to D.B.Wijetunga.
  • In 1993, Wijetunga overlooked seniors in the party and made Ranil Wickremesinghe the Prime Minister.
  • Chandrika made Ms.Bandaranaike the Premier in 1995.
  • After the 2000 general election, Chandrika removed her mother from that post and gave it to Ratnasiri Wickremenayake.
  • In 2001, Chandrika offered it to Ranil as the UNP gained the majority seats in Parliament to form a government.
  • In 2004, after merging victorious, Chandrika appointed Mahinda as Prime Minister even before the Cabinet was sworn in. She did it violating the agreement reached with the JVP to appoint Lakshman Kadirgamar as Prime Minister.
  • In 2010 while Maithri, Nimal Siripala and Basil Rajapaksa looked contenders for the post of Premier, Mahinda gave it to D.M. Jayaratne.

History depicts that Chandrika and Mahinda executed powers as privileges as SLFP leaders and Presidents to decide who would be made the Premier.

Hence, Maithri also enjoys the same powers and privileges. If the UNP gets the majority in August, Maithri would follow the precedence set by Wijetunga and Chandrika to empower that party to decide on the person to the office of Prime Minister. If the SLFP gets the majority Maithri will handle it himself.

In such event, none in the SLFP could oppose Maithri if he appoints a person of his choice as Premier from the party. If the Mahinda loyalists oppose, it would not be difficult for Maithri to form a government with a section of the SLFP and the UNP. Some went with the concept ‘Let’s get up with Mahinda’ in order to protect their positions as parliamentarians to contest and form a government. Though they become MPs from Mahinda’s merit, they would clamour for a ministerial office. In that struggle they would not be concerned as to who would be the Premier. If Maithri does not offer the Premier post to Mahinda, the latter cannot get the support of the UNP and the minority parties.

All these days Mahinda used the SLFP to establish a ‘Family Kingdom’ and then throw away the party men curry leaves. Maithri and all others fell into the category of curry leaves under Mahinda. In everything the saying goes that every dog has its’ day. Who knows that this is the time that Mahinda would be used and thrown away like curry leaves?