Maithiri is too honest to be my Prime Minister – Mahinda

1c02df27d352caf7b0780fd631512bf4_LWho is Maithripala?

Maithripala had a chance to cut the throats of both Kadirgamar and Mahinda, and become the Prime Minister. But he opted to give the chance to Mahinda.

The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) went to Rajarata from Horagolla before it went to Medamulana. After the death of Prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, Prime Minister W. Dahanayaka contested the 1960 March election from a separate party. The SLFP was led by C.P. de Silva, an MP from Rajarata. Sirima Bandaranaike who took reins of the SLFP in the July 1960 election wanted C.P. de Silva to take the lead. Therefore, C.P. de Silva appeared as the Deputy Prime Minister. He was the MP for Polonnaruwa

By Upul Joseph Fernando

The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) went to Rajarata from Horagolla before it went to Medamulana. After the death of Prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, Prime Minister W. Dahanayaka contested the 1960 March election from a separate party. The SLFP was led by C.P. de Silva, an MP from Rajarata. Sirima Bandaranaike who took reins of the SLFP in the July 1960 election wanted C.P. de Silva to take the lead. Therefore, C.P. de Silva appeared as the Deputy Prime Minister. He was the MP for Polonnaruwa.

CP was the Leader of the House of the Sirima Bandaranaike Government, who did not care for CP and preferred her nephew Felix Dias Bandaranaike, disappointed CP crossed-over to the UNP and toppled the government in 1964.
Another MP from Rajarata, Maithripala Senanayaka was the Deputy Prime Minister who acted as Prime Minister during Premier Sirima Bandaranaike’s foreign tours in the 1970-77 Government. When the UNP Government took away her civicl rights, Maithripala asked for the party’s leadership from her. Anura Bandaranaike also supported him but Sirima ill-treated Maithri by supporting her daughter, Chandrika and son-in-law Vijaya Kumaratunga. Maithri broke away from the party and supported the UNP at the 1982 Referendum. Maithri rejoined the SLFP, but Chandrika put his name in the National List in 1994 and did not offer him a seat.
The leaders of Rajarata have served the Bandaranaikes but they have not returned that goodwill in the same vein. Maithripala Sirisena is the leader who rose from Rajarata after Maithripala Senanayaka. He was appointed as the Secretary of the SLFP in 2001. Chandrika wanted to appoint him as Prime Minister in 2004. If she was successful, the leadership of the SLFP would have gone from Horagolla to Rajarata. But, Maithri rejected it and proposed Mahinda for the post. Mahinda became the President later, and Maithripala of Rajarata was disillusioned as usual.
Let us begin Maithri Age
Maithri contested the 2010 election under the theme ‘Let us begin Maithri Age.’ But he was not offered the Prime Minister post. He waited until he got his chance. Now it is his turn. The Opposition proposed him to contest as the Common Candidate of the Opposition. Mahinda was astonished to learn it. Rajapaksas were so kind to him right throughout. Astrologers say that Saturn shifted the House last Saturday. Maithri seems to have benefitted by his planets.
Who is this Maithri?
Throughout his history, Maithripala Sirisena has been with the leader. The best example is Mulkirigala by-election which was held in the early 1980s after Sirima Bandaranaike’s civil rights were taken away. Anura Bandaranaike became the Opposition Leader after the boycott of Parliament by the Tamil MPs. Maithripala was a member of the SLFP Central Committee and worked as a clerk in Anura’s staff at the party headquarters. The SLFP leadership selected one member of the Rajapaksa family to contest the election while the future leader Anura Bandaranaike selected another member of the Rajapaksa family. After a lengthy debate that extended to late night, a vote was called at the Central Committee to select the candidate. Anura expected his staff member Maithripala Sirisena would vote in favour of his candidate, but Maithri voted for the candidate proposed by the leader. When Maithri went to work in the office two days later, even before he sat in his usual place, an office worker handed him the letter of the termination of his service. He went to Rosmead Place with the letter and showed it to Sirima Bandaranaike. She was with Anuruddha Ratwatte at that moment.
Started from the library
“How can he be removed because he voted me Anuruddha? As there is no library in the party office, let us assign Maithri to arrange a library in a room there,” she said.
Maithri started from the library and ended up as the SLFP’s General Secretary. Throughout his journey, he was with the leader. When the present leader wanted to take disciplinary action against Mangala, he was with the leader and expressed his loyalty.
Maithri’s second specialty is speaking up before the leader also against injustice. He inherited that trait throughout his school- time-politics as a 16-year old boy. He first read literature of Shanmugadasan’s Communist Party (China Wing). He was conducted to political classes by a person who waited for them at the gate of the school wearing a red cap. He participated in political classes in the jungle of Girithale- Wewa. They ate lotus leaves for lunch. Some days Shanmugadasan came to conduct classes but vanished by lunch- time. When Maithri inquired he was informed that Shanmugadasan who was preaching equality had gone to Polonnaruwa Rest House for lunch. His excuse was that he was suffering from a stomachache. This made Maithri question openly and with the answer he got weary of the party.
This is how Maithri made Mahinda the Prime Minister. After the election results were out in 2004, Chandrika made a call to Maithripala and said that she would send a helicopter to Polonnaruwa for him to report directly to the President’s House.
When he arrived, the Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar and President’s Secretary Balapatabendi were there.
“Tomorrow, the Prime Minister must be sworn in. Tell me your idea directly,” Chandrika asked.
“During the election campaign, there was an idea among people that Mahinda should be the Prime Minister. It is the Party’s stand too. Therefore, let us appoint him as Prime Minister,” Maithripala said. Kadirgamar explained to Maithri that the JVP politburo had objected Mahinda being appointed as the Prime Minister.
“If we appoint Mahinda as Prime Minister, there will be split in the party,” Kadirgamar said. He knew that Chandrika, Maithri and Balapatabendi were aware that the JVP wanted to make him the Prime Minister.
“But Sir, we need to respect the people’s consent,” Maithri said humbly. It angered Kadirgamar.
“We can’t make JVP angry with us,” he said getting up and pushing the chair aside.
“Let us think about this more, I will call you Kadir,” Chandrika said.
Kadir left. Chandrika sent Maithri and Balapatabendi after him to his house to get his consent to appoint Mahinda as Prime Minister. They did it.
The most interesting part of the story is, the JVP General Secretary’s letter which conveyed the Party decision to appoint Kadirgamar as Prime Minister. The JVP had proposed two alternative names for the post of Prime Minister in case Kadirgamar’s ethnicity is a barrier. The two Sinhala Buddhists they named were, Anura Bandaranaike and Maithripala Sirisena. (The letter was published in the Sunday Times)
Maithripala had a chance to cut the throats of both Kadirgamar and Mahinda, and become the Prime Minister. But he opted to give the chance to Mahinda.
Mahinda did not like to make such a person as the Prime Minister under him. But the UNP is ready to select him as the Opposition Common Candidate of the Presidential Election. It appears as if Rajarata and Maithripala are served not by the SLFP or Bandaranaikes but by the UNP against which Maithri has worked. How will Maithri do justice to the UNP?