Reports say Mahinda Rajapaksa is strongly opposing attempts by the joint opposition to raise the image of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa or Chamal Rajapaksa as his political successor. When MP Kumar Welgama made a suggestion in this regard, Mahinda took him to task and expelled him, reports say.
A majority of JO MPs is of the view that they could not go on in this journey by retaining Mahinda as their leader, as he had been rejected at the last presidential election. They want either Gotabhaya or Chamal to take his place. If such a decision is taken, most SLFP MPs in the government can be lured into their side, they believe.
When Welgama made the suggestion, Mahinda had become very angry, severely reprimanded and expelled him, saying that people want him, not Gotabhaya or Chamal, and that the fools in the JO did not understand that.
Later, MP Vidura Wickremanayake met Mahinda and made the same proposal, noting that the JO would help the UNP to win the 2020 elections easily if it continued in this manner. The opposition MPs have come to understand that the main obstacle to their regaining power is Mahinda.
Mahinda has responded by saying that that was not his problem.
SLFP MPs in the JO have reached agreement to take a firm stand to prevent their becoming the accused in further defeats and a division of the party if Mahinda continued to be their leader.