Future of Executive Presidency was not discussed – MR
Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake had a narrow escape when the cab he was travelling in collided with a ‘tipper’ truck carrying a sand load at Holipitiya on the Ratnapura- Horana road last week.
Anura who was in the rear seat suffered shock and contusion on the chest though he did not sustain external injuries. A motorist driving past the scene of the accident who had recognized the JVP Leader as a victim of the accident had rushed him along with the other injured to the Ratnapura General hospital. The doctors who attended on Anura Kumara who was suffering severe pain in the chest lost no time in transferring him to Colombo National Hospital for further investigation and treatment.
Director, Colombo National Hospital, Dr. Anil Jasinghe, who had a medical team in readiness to attend on Anura Kumara admitted him to Ward 15 of the Accident Service. The doctors who examined the JVP leader said that the latter had had a miraculous escape judging by the extensive damage caused to the vehicle he was travelling in.
Ranil, the first party leader to visit Anura
Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe visited the JVP leader in hospital the same evening. Among the others who called on him later in the night were Thilanga Sumathipala, Tiran Alles and Jayantha Ketagoda. A large number of leading politicians including Atureliye Ratana Thera, Ajith Perera, Mervyn Silva, Sarath Fonseka and Nimal Siripala de Silva visited Anura Kumara the following morning.
Minister Nimal Siripala advised Anura Kumara to take bed rest for a few days. Democratic Party leader Sarath Fonseka who too was at the bedside quipped: “He may not, unless you put him under arrest.” All visitors laughed at this sally. Minister Mervyn Silva said: “You are a leader that the country needs. I came to wish you a quick recovery.”
Meanwhile, the JVP leader’s Facebook page was inundated with messages from well wishers. The doctors okayed Anura Kumara’s discharge from hospital after advising him to take a complete rest until he was relieved of his chest pain. As a result, The JVP leader had to cancel a planned visit to Kandy on Tuesday 29 July for a meeting with the Mahanayake Thera of the Malwatte Chapter.
Ratnapura Police who detained the driver of the cab, who escaped unhurt, for recording his statement produced him before the Ratnapura Magistrate at his official residence the following morning. The Magistrate released the driver on a Rs 50,000 surety bond and ordered him to appear in Court on 4 August.
Ven. Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thera in a mysterious accident!
Ven. Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thera who is also playing a lead opposition role these days met with an accident when another vehicle crashed into his motor car at Horton Place, Colombo last week. Some activists of the People’s Movement for Social Justice (PMSJ) led by Ven. Sobhitha opine that this crash could be the result of a devious design by certain people who want either to intimidate the Thera or cause him physical harm. They say that the Horton Place ‘accident’ carries all the hallmarks of the ‘accident’ he met with at Nugegoda sometime ago while he was on his way to Sri Dalada Maligawa in Kandy to attend a meeting of the Maha Sangha convened to agitate for the release of Sarath Fonseka who was serving a jail term at the time.
Those who hold the view that the Horton Place crash is an ‘accident’ by design say that the anonymous callers abusing and threatening the prelate over the phone these days must be behind the mysterious accident as well.
The (PMSJ) activists say that Ven. Sobhitha Thera vows to forge ahead with his struggle to restore good governance, democracy and social justice in the country undeterred by threats and other obstacles placed in his way.
Meanwhile, the Movement (PMSJ) led by Ven. Sobhitha Thera has planned to hold a series of seminars of the Movement across the country to create awareness, about the goals of the Movement among the people at the grass roots level. The first seminar of the planned series will be held in Matara on 8 August. Arrangements have been made to launch the official website of the Movement to coincide with this event.
A rumour about a rendezvous between Ranil and MR
While Sobhitha Thera was at a discussion with a group of activists of his Movement last week, one of the activists received a phone call which later created a sensation among them. The caller had told the activist: “While you were discussing the question of fielding a common Opposition Presidential Candidate, Ranil along with Malik Samarawickrama had held secret talks with President Rajapaksa at the residence of a Head of a media group. We understand that Ranil had given an undertaking to the President that he would be definitely in the running as the party candidate.” However, the PMSJ activist had not readily accepted this information. He later had made inquiries from various sources to verify whether the information he got was correct and all whom he had contacted had said that it was news to them.
Shirani and Chandrika among possible aspirants
While the stage is being set by Ven. Sobhitha Thera to field a common opposition Presidential candidate, the government authorities are also keenly monitoring the scenario to know on time as to who will finally emerge as the common opposition candidate. They have learnt that a certain group is grooming former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, while another group is lobbying support for former Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake’s candidacy.
Ranil set to sabotage bid to field a common candidate
It is no news now that the political leader who got most perturbed over the Maduluwawe Thera’s bid to find an apolitical common opposition Presidential candidate is United National Party (UNP) Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe. When Ranil realized that Maduluwawe Thera was unwavering in his commitment and was unstoppable, he decided to enlist the support of Chandrika Kumaratunga for his candidacy. And he entrusted the task of winning over Chandrika to his friend from school days Malik Samarawickrama.
Malik obtained an appointment to meet Chandrika and the meeting took place last week. Malik said that Ranil had already entered the battle for President and it was evident that a trend of support for him was brewing. “Ranil is already on the campaign trail. There is an upsurge of support for him everywhere – something we ourselves could hardly expect,” Malik told Chandrika.
Chandrika who was listening to Malik with a sardonic smile said: “Ah! You say there is a wave of support for Ranil in the country! So far there has never been a wave of support for Ranil. If you say that there is a wave, that is fine!”
“Stars do not favour Ranil”
The derisive tone of Chandrika’s response does not appear to have discouraged either Malik or Ranil. Ranil happily continues electioneering talking to voters on the cost of living at weekend fairs and saying things to amuse even yet-to-be voters at tuition classes. Meanwhile, Malik is going from MP to MP of the party soliciting support for the party leader.
However, the general thinking of the UNP MPs is that Ranil should not contest as it is obvious that he does not stand a chance of winning even in a direct fight with President Mahinda Rajapaksa. A well-known female astrologer said to be a confidante of Mangala Samaraweera had told a group of UNP MPs close to Ranil last week that the stars at the moment were not in favour of the UNP leader and even some eminent Indian astrologers too had confirmed her opinion. Thus the opinion that the opposition should field a common candidate at the Presidential poll has gained ground within the UNP as well.
The current indications are that the JVP too will support a common opposition candidate sans ties with any political party. Although the party is yet to take a hard decision on this question, it is quite apparent that the JVP leaders will join the platform for an apolitical opposition candidate.
Basil in the UPFA campaign lead
While some political and civil society activists are engaged in the search for a common opposition Presidential candidate, a large number of government MPs divided into two groups are now out in the field campaigning for President Rajapaksa, the unchallenged candidate of the ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA). One group operating under the banner, Rata Nagana Nil Rella ( Blue Wave uplifting the country) led by a several Cabinet Ministers and the other group comprising young MPs spearheading the Nil Balakaya founded by Namal Rajapaksa, are now going round the country holding propaganda rallies at district level. Both groups are functioning under the close scrutiny of Minister Basil Rajapaksa who is monitoring what the government speakers tell the people at various places and how people react.
NFF decides to go solo in Uva
The politburo of the National Freedom Front (NFF) met at their party headquarters at Battaramulla last week with Minister Wimal Weerawansa in the chair. The main topic that figured at the discussion was the party’s participation in the Uva PC election.
Addressing the members at the outset former Minister Piyasiri Wijenayake dwelled on the objectives the party had in view when they decided to join the ruling UPFA coalition.
Minister Weerawansa said: “We may be a minor political party today. We may grow into a major one tomorrow. We have always taken political decisions in the interests of the people and the country at large with no concern about possible adverse results for the party. We did not calculate the consequences in store for us personally either”.
The Minister charged that the mutual respect between core-party and the constituent parties in the coalition no longer existed. “Dignity and the respect for the separate identity of respective partners is no longer upheld. “
He charged that the coalition partners were not consulted before expanding the mandate of the Commission on Disappearances to cover the war crimes. He regretted that the government itself had put the noose round its neck before the UNHRC’s panel could do it eventually, and the panel had only to tighten the noose now. He also said that those at the helm of the government should be sensitive to the rights and the dignity of the constituents of the alliance. “How can the alliance survive if attempts are being made to destroy the partners?” he asked.
Referring to the decision taken to go it alone at the Uva PC poll, the Minister said: “There are times when we have to take difficult decisions. But that is a challenge a political party must be prepared to take up,” he said.
The Party’s Nominations Committee Chairman Piyasiri Wijenayake said that a large number of prominent community leaders from the districts in Uva have indicated their willingness to enter the fray under the Panchayudha symbol.
Meanwhile, reports say that the decision taken by the NFF to go it alone in Uva has given a jolt to the government top brass. And now the ruling UPFA has decided not to file their nominations until the eleventh hour in a bid to prevent the UPFA ‘rejects’ being accommodated in the NFF district lists.
Champika to drop a bombshell
Meanwhile, another coalition partner Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) gave another jolt to the government when they decided to boycott the Uva PC poll. This means that none of the JHU leaders will appear on the UPFA stage in Uva to express solidarity with the government candidates. As if this decision by the JHU is not bad enough, the party has planned a move much worse – a veritable bombshell to be exploded in the face of the government – to launch a booklet titled Balaya saha Balaya (Power and Power) written by Minister Champika Ranawaka exposing certain embarrassing and unpleasant situations he had to face as the Minister for Power and Energy as well as a series of scandals that could rock the establishment.
In this context, it may be recalled that Minister Champika Ranawaka fired a salvo at the ‘Entertainment-oriented Economy’ promoted by Treasury Chief Dr. P.B. Jayasundara about two weeks ago.
The booklet by Minister Ranawaka believed to be containing ‘explosive matter’ is due to be launched on 5 August.
Sudden MR – Hakeem meet
It is no longer a secret that there is bad blood between President Rajapaksa and Justice Minister Rauff Hakeem. The President, in fact, has shown the door to Minister Hakeem at several Cabinet meetings. However, Hakeem has not so far given any indication that he is prepared to quit the government in good grace. Incidentally, the President at the last Cabinet meeting told Hakeem to meet him for a discussion.
In the meantime, a meeting by accident between the President and Minister Hakeem took place at the official residence of Minister A.H.M. Fowzie last week. Both the President and Hakeem were guests attending the celebration held by Minister Fowzie to mark the end of Ramazan- Eid Ul Fitr. On seeing Hakeem, the President told him: “I understand that you are going round these days speaking ill of me.” A smiling Hakeem replied: “I have not abused you or the government at any place. Tale-bearers have misled you.”
“I am referring to what you have said and done while being abroad,” said the President. “Therefore, I want you to meet me next week to account for things I have heard about.”
Keheliya talks out of turn
Government media spokesman Minister Keheliya Rambukwella while fielding questions by media personnel at the weekly media briefing on Cabinet decisions held at the Department of Information last Thursday had occasion to ‘reveal’ the government’s stand on the question of abolishing the Executive Presidency. The Minister said that pruning certain powers of the President instead of abolishing the Executive Presidential system was now receiving the attention of the government. He added that deliberations on this question were going on at the highest level of the government.
Keheliya’s ‘disclosure’ sent the Ministers into a flutter for it was news to them. Some of them lost no time in contacting the President over the phone to verify whether there was any basis for the statement made by Minister Rambukwella. “I too am surprised to hear this,” replied the President. “No discussion on this question has been held at any forum within the government so far. I have not expressed any opinion to Keheliya either.
” One highly perturbed Minister told the President: “Keheliya has put us in a soup. What can we say when we are questioned on this matter at TV debates? As the media briefing was on the Cabinet decisions, everyone must have presumed that Keheliya was disclosing a Cabinet decision.”
However, the President said easily: “After all, we all know that there was no such Cabinet decision. Keheliya must have blurted out what had been going on in his mind.”
Home and home battles in Matale
Two duels involving four Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) stalwarts in the Matale District have captured the attention of the people in the Matale district these days. One duel is between Minister Janaka Bandara Tennekoon and Deputy Minister Lakshman Perera and the other between Provincial Minister S.B. Yalegama and Higher Education Deputy Minister Nandimitra Ekanayake.
An episode from the ongoing duel between Yalegama and Ekanayake was staged in public for the first time at a meeting of the Rattota electorate SLFP organization held on 27 July. At this meeting Provincial Minister Yalegama pushed Minister Nandimitra Ekanayake’s Coordinating Secretary Maitri Dowson out of the hall while hundreds of party members looked on flabbergasted.
After physically forcing Ekanayake’s Coordinating Secretary out of the meeting, Yalegama made a serious statement. “I am addressing you with much pain of mind,” said Yalegama. “Some people who crossed over to the other side and later returned to the fold are destroying the party. I told those at the highest level in the party not to allow certain people to mess up party affairs here. However, it looks like the SLFP is deaf and blind when it is in power.”
Minister Ekanayake has now made an appeal to President Rajapaksa to hold an impartial inquiry into the incident.
Future of Executive Presidency was not discussed – MR