by Shamindra Ferdinando
SLMC leader and Justice Minister Rauf Hakeem yesterday consulted his members in the Eastern Provincial Council (EPC) as well as some members of his parliamentary group regarding the forthcoming presidential election.
Minister Hakeem met representatives at a Colombo hotel where they discussed the best course of action for the party and the Muslim community in the wake of both the SLFP led ruling coalition and the joint Opposition seeking the SLMC’s support.
The SLMC contested the last parliamentary election in April 2010 on the UNP ticket after having backed common candidate Gen. Sarath Fonseka fielded by a coalition comprising the UNP, JVP and the TNA at January 2010 poll. Subsequently, the SLMC switched its allegiance to President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Well informed sources told The Island that Minister Hakeem summoned his group, including two Eastern Provincial Council ministers, namely Hafeez N. Ahamed and M.I.M. Mansoor to Colombo in the wake of the EPC being adjourned till January 12, 2015.
Responding to a query by The Island, sources said that a scheduled meeting between the SLMC and SLFP National Organizer Basil Rajapaksa didn’t take place yesterday. President Mahinda Rajapaksa along with Ministers, Basil Rajapaksa and Dallas Alahapperuma met Minister Hakeem over the last weekend to reach an understanding regarding the SLMC’s support.
Speculation is rife that the SLMC and the TNA will take a common stand at the next presidential election. Political sources pointed out that the TNA and the SLMC took a similar stand at the last presidential election. There had been a series of meetings between TNA and SLMC representatives over a period of time to discuss ways and means to cooperate for the benefit of both communities.
SLMC parliamentarians, Faizal Cassim (Digamadulla district), M.S. Thowfeek (Trincomalee district) and National List MP M.S.M. Aslem too, had participated in the four and half hour discussion commencing at 9 a.m.
When the media queried from Senior Vice President of the SLFP Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva regarding the status of talks with the SLMC and the JHU switching its allegiance to Maithripala Sirisena, the spokesman regretted the JHU’s move. The minister said that the JHU had been a big strength to the coalition. The minister asserted that the JHU had no serious issues to leave the government and in fact the party never demanded the abolition of executive presidency.
Minister de Silva said that the SLFP engaged in talks with the SLMC with confidence that they could be successful.