Ex-Minister Cooray indirectly blames Rajapaksas for SLFP’s sorry plight

by Shamindra Ferdinando

Former government Minister Reginald Cooray yesterday said that in spite of suffering two major defeats at the presidential and parliamentary polls during 2015, the party had not yet been able to adopt remedial measures for want of what he called self-criticism on the part of those who had previously wielded power.

Addressing the media at the SLFP party office on T.B. Jayah Mawatha, the ex-MP stressed that the SLFP’s internal crisis had paved the way for the UNP’s return to power. Had they managed to address contentious issues through mutual understanding, the SLFP wouldn’t have been in current predicament.

The UNP had been in dire straits and wasn’t even in a position to field a presidential candidate of its own when a major crisis erupted in the SLFP, Cooray said, asserting that the party had paid a very heavy price for turning a blind eye to serious issues. The former Kalutara District MP attributed the crippling internal crisis of the SLFP to corruption, absence of internal democracy, family rule as well as the sidelining of deserving party men.

Cooray warned that unless the party thoroughly examined the events leading to its own General Secretary switching allegiance to the Opposition in late 2014, the SLFP could suffer another debilitating split.

Responding to a query, Cooray recalled him pushing for devolution of power, though the former President didn’t like it. “Once, when the issue was taken up at a meeting chaired by Rajapaksa, only three members, namely me, Dilan Perera and Athauda Seneviratne raised hands in support of devolution of power.” Cooray insisted that those who had abused power and responsible for corruption should face inquiry. No one should be allowed to go scot free, he said.