SLFP dissidents in JO going it alone as SLPP

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) yesterday made deposits at Kalutara, Galle and Gampaha kachcheris, signalling that it was going it alone at the forthcoming local government polls in spite of the SLFP’s efforts to forge an alliance with its dissidents to contest the mini polls together.

The SLPP made its move close on the heels of President Maithripala Sirisena assuring a group of civil society representatives on Sunday that he wouldn’t pursue an agenda detrimental to the unity government.

Having paid deposits in Kalutara, Chairman of the SLPM Prof. G.L. Peiris told The Island that there was absolutely no point in having a dialogue as long as the SLFP remained in the UNP-led administration.

Prof. Peiris was accompanied by SLPM General Secretary Sagara Kariyawasam and its administrative secretary Renuka Perera.

Former External Affairs Minister Prof. Peiris said his party would pay the deposit for Colombo, Anuradhapura and Puttalam on Tuesday (Nov 28). The nominations will be received from Dec 11 to Dec 14.

Prof. Peiris led outfit is an integral part of the SLFP rebels-led Joint Opposition (JO) consisted of 54 members of parliament elected on the UPFA ticket. The UPFA secured 95 seats at 2015 August parliamentary polls.

The former Law Professor said that having worked with JO since the change of government in January 2015, all parties were keen to face what he called first round of local government polls meant to test yahapalana government’s popularity.

According to Prof. Peiris, the first round involved 93 local government bodies and the rest would take place on a staggered basis. Responding to another query, the former minister said that SLPM would field candidates in all electoral districts, including Jaffna peninsula.

However, JO MPs refrained from joining SLPM officials at any of the venues where deposits were paid. JO member Pavitradevi Wanniarachchi’s husband, Kanchana Jayaratne, Chairman of the Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council accompanied the SLPM delegation led by Prof. Peiris.

Prof. Peiris said those who had been talking about SLFP reunification hadn’t examined the future of the JO both in and outside parliament. The former Law Professor said that he personally believed that would be a monumental mistake on their part to join the SLFP, at a time the government was reeling over treasury bond scams.

Prof. Peiris said that they were proceeding with their campaign. The former minister said that reunification talks were irrelevant. Responding to another query, Prof. Peiris said that with elections to 93 local government bodies now certain to take place in January, soon after the releasing of the presidential commission report on treasury bond scams, it would be a major issue.

The former External Affairs Minister emphasized that the local government polls wouldn’t be fought on local matters but issues of national significance and would test the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government.

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