Dinesh-Karu Dispute and ‘Janasaba’ Split: The Potential Prelude to Division
Basil Hints at Ranil’s 20th Overseas Visit Before March
Poll results are out.
In recent weeks, we have revealed in the ‘Inside Politics’ column how various opinion polls have emerged regarding the results of the upcoming presidential election, which will be held this year. We also mentioned that these opinion polls were conducted and published in their own unique manner based on different institutions, organisations, people, purposes, and goals. Dr. Rannan Eliya conducted one of these polls, as we mentioned earlier. The results revealed through the poll were so controversial that even the officials of the embassies in this country had accepted the results. Even some people who claim to be recognized journalists in this country have been seen citing information from this opinion poll in their media reviews. Rannan Eliya had shown through this opinion poll that the Janata Vimukthi Peramuna-led National People’s Force has advanced rapidly over all other political parties. It was also emphasized that the party will get more than 51% of the votes in the upcoming national elections.
These are not a new thing in Sri Lankan politics and these kind of popular opinion polls are usually held before an election. It is a common tradition that the results of these are mostly favourable to the existing government. This was first started in 1994 during the UNP government. An opinion poll was conducted by an organization owned by Mr Charita Ratwatte, who is close to the current president, Mr. Ranil Wickramasinghe, and he stated that the United National Party will win the next general election. The government took this view into the UNP.
After giving the opinion poll to Ranil, the media company related to his family took steps to publish the results of this opinion poll in a newspaper. The relevant newspaper mentioned that the UNP will be in the lead in the upcoming general elections. There was also a big discussion in the political field about taking an unfair advantage by publishing an unofficial result of this kind of public opinion poll in a major newspaper. Many people in the opposition said that this is an undue influence on the election results.
Who is this Rannan Eliya?
However, the result of Charita Rathwatte’s opinion poll did come right. Chandrika’s Podu Peramuna won the 1994 general election against the UNP. After that result, Charita Ratwatte’s organization never conducted opinion polls. This made us to find out to looking the sudden advent of a Ranna Eliya from the blues and conducting opinion polls in Sri Lanka. There we were able to unearth that this Rannan Eliya is someone who has more knowledge about the health field than someone who has knowledge about the political field. He was also known to be associated with Neelan Thiruchelvam Institute. We also learned that this emergency poll was conducted to make a contract to highlight JVP above Sajith and Ranil to bring Ranil and Sajith together to a new political front. Accordingly, we would publish all the information about this Rannan Eliya in a future issue.
Rannan gets disturbed
According to our sources, Rannan Eliya’s contract was revealed alongside our disclosure, and he was upset. As a result, Rannan Eliya, who had told the country that Anura Kumara Dissanayake would receive 51% by publishing another opinion poll almost immediately, decided to close his opinion poll section after that. However, following our disclosure, many people expressed an interest in learning more about Rannan Eliya, so Rannan Eliya called the general phone number of the ‘Mawrata’ newspaper office and requested that the editor-in-chief be contacted to discuss the matter. We informed him that there was no need to discuss the issue with him because the relevant opinion poll was false and only reflected a specific political programme.
Sajith also says no
However, after that, Rannan Eliya went to the office of the opposition leader to meet Mr. Sajith Premadasa. But Sajith was not willing to discuss it with Rannan Eliya. Sajith, directed him if necessary to meet Sujeewa Senasinghe who was in another room of the opposition leader’s office, and to discuss the matter with him. ‘Inside Politics ‘ column learns that Rannan Eliya has met with Sujeewa and made a big political analysis. Rannan Eliya has told Sujeewa that JVP will take the lead. But without taking him seriously Sujeewa has not discussed much further. This make Rannan Eliya’s opinion poll to collapse.
Another poll results out
Meanwhile, last week, a major newspaper took steps to publish the findings of another opinion poll. According to the newspaper, this opinion poll was conducted by an organisation called ‘Research Lanka’, and 46.5% of Sri Lankans supported Anura Kumara for President. According to the news, 79.5% of the population demanded a presidential election first.
Last week, a large political campaign was launched in response to this news, which was published in the relevant newspaper. It was also observed that a specific political group, along with their supporting websites and social media networks, received a lot of attention.
The lie in the newspaper
Although we did not do much research on this news, the website ‘Fact Crescendo’, which investigates false and fabricated news published in the media and social media networks, had conducted a long investigation in this regard. Accordingly, they had emphasized that this news is completely false and that there is not even an institution called ‘Research Lanka’ in Sri Lanka that conducts opinion polls. However, although there is a well-known organization that conducts opinion polls called ‘Survey Research Lanka’, its CEO Mihirani Dissanayake has stated to the relevant website that the organization has not conducted such an opinion poll. Accordingly, it has now been confirmed that the opinion poll is completely false.
Here’s the plot
Accordingly, this shows that all those polls are campaigns running from a certain point in relation to each other. Or that there is a political conspiracy to bring together Ranil and Sajith by scaring other political parties by saying that JVP will gain power.
Last week, while making another disclosure in this regard, we said that a similar group went on to spread a false report on the meeting of American ambassador Julie Chung and Professor G.L. Pieris. The news read that Mrs. Chang has said that if the JVP comes to power, the country will become a North Korea, and the best answer is to get Ranil and Sajith together. It was further stated in the news that Chang had met former President Maithripala and informed him of this story. It was seen how some groups had given a lot of publicity to this news as well as fake news.
However, G.L. was not present when the news was published. However, after arriving in Sri Lanka, G.L. immediately responded in Parliament. He claimed that the news of his meeting with the American ambassador was true, but she had never made such a statement. Also, the opposition leader, Sajith, made a special statement in parliament, stating that he and Ranil will not form an alliance, and no one wants to make a deal for that.
Looking at all these events, one thing is pretty clear. That is, all these news are ‘posted’ from the same place. Every news reports that JVP will win by more than 50%. But anyone can understand that these opinion polls are not true and irrational because it is not at all practical to get a result where the JVP with 3% suddenly exceeds 50%. It is true that JVP will get a slightly higher percentage than 3% this time but it is highly unlikely that it will cross 50%. Accordingly, many people are of the opinion that this is a political operation to scare Sajith and SJB and bring them to Ranil. This time it has come in the form of a ‘poll’. Many people are of the opinion that in the future it may come in the form of ‘abolishing the executive presidential system’, in an ‘economic’ form as well as in the form of ‘scaring’ all others by pointing out the JVP.
In this way, although some people and some institutions conduct unacceptable polls, there are no reliable polling institutions in Sri Lanka. As far as we know, around every election, two sectors conduct polls that are very close to the correct result. One of them is the embassy. The other sector is the intelligence sector of the government. Both these divisions operate their own in-country network and conduct opinion polls in a very accurate and acceptable manner. Generally, polls conducted by both departments are not made public. The opinion polls conducted by the diplomatic agencies are sent to their home country, while the opinion polls conducted by the intelligence agencies are sent to the existing government.
Accordingly, two months ago, a certain embassy had conducted a poll in Sri Lanka about the upcoming elections, and the results were also seen in the ‘Inside Politics’ column. The result obtained there was that SJB got 33%, JVP got 26% and Pohottuwa got 18%. Here they have stated that SJB will own 33% without any regard to the results of other parties and individuals who will join it in the future. Accordingly, it has been mentioned in the opinion poll that this percentage of votes may increase further after the formation of the alliance. Accordingly, many believe that the results of the survey conducted by this embassy two months ago are more accurate than other unilateral and contractual polls.
In 2009, Sri Lanka came to the attention of the world regarding the violation of human rights after the end of the war with the LTTE. Every year after that, resolutions against Sri Lanka were passed in the United Nations Geneva Human Rights Commission, and every year Sri Lanka had to face the elections held there. Accordingly, after the war, Sri Lankan authorities had to face another human rights war with the world. But with the passage of time and the economic crisis, these human rights issues were gradually suppressed. Accordingly, in the recent past, Sri Lanka has hardly faced issues of human rights violations from the international community. But almost unexpectedly, the government has had to face a serious human rights problem through the Act on the Security of Online Methods, or the Online Act that governs social media, which was passed last week.
Although no one could see it, the Wickramasinghe-Rajapaksa government also had to face a serious problem similar to the human rights issue that the post-war government had to face with the passage of this bill. The reason for this is that many powerful countries of the world as well as many human rights organizations have already reacted strongly to the relevant act. In particular, the United Nations, the Geneva Human Rights Commission, Amnesty International, and the Asian Internet Organization issued announcements in this regard and took steps to seriously condemn it. Moreover, the United States of America, Australia, Canada and Britain had also taken steps to issue notices against this bill passed by the Sri Lankan government. Accordingly, many people doubt that the government will have to face a human rights war like it faced during the war.
The end of the digital economy?
On the other hand, another serious point was raised in the announcement issued by the Asian Internet Organization. This means that there may be a serious problem of the collapse of Sri Lanka’s digital economy, and there may be a risk of the country’s economy collapsing again. It was also seen how the Facebook relationship of the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission was broken at the time when the relevant bill was passed in the Parliament. Many people suspect that this is a harbinger of a serious situation that may arise in the future.
The opposition is in a single struggle
However, from the moment the government presented this online bill to the parliament, the opposition had taken steps to launch a massive struggle against it inside and outside the parliament. Especially the opposition leader Mr. Sajith Premadasa and the JVP leader Mr. Anura Kumara Dissanayake had publicly commented on this matter. Before the passing of the relevant bill, Sajith wrote to the Speaker and request of a postponement of the passing of this bill in the Parliament. In that letter, Sajith had pointed out that there should be some regulation regarding social media, but it is not acceptable to do it according to the government’s wishes unless it is done with the consent of all parties.
Also, before starting the debate on the first day, Sajith along with all the opposition party leaders went to the Speaker’s office to discuss the matter with him. JVP had been invited to it, but it is noted that no representative of that party joined it. However, at the meeting of the opposition party leaders, the speaker agreed to convene an emergency party leader meeting to discuss the matter. That is to postpone the discussion of the relevant bill. But in the meeting of party leaders, the government did not agree to postpone the debate on the bill. Accordingly, the government’s reply was that the two-day debate would be held as scheduled and the relevant bill would be passed on Wednesday.
Chaos in the middle of the debate
However, during the debate, several special events took place. One of them was that in the discussions held with the Asian Internet Organization and many civil organizations, Minister Tiran Alas had agreed to make some amendments to the Act. But when the draft was submitted to the parliament, many parties accused that the amendments were not included in it. Although Tiran said that the amendment will be included in the draft in the future, the opposition did not see any way of accepting those statements.
The 13 recommendations have not been made
The next most serious incident was the allegation that 13 amendments recommended by the Supreme Court were not included in the draft. This accusation was made by M.A. Sumandiran, a member of the Tamil National Alliance. Usually, when there is a debate on a bill, the officials of the relevant ministries are in a chamber located outside the assembly, to the right of the Speaker. If a member of parliament wants to make any clarification regarding the related draft, he can go to that chamber from inside the assembly and talk to the relevant officials.
If not, the councilor can come to the concerned chamber from outside or bring the officials out of the chamber and discuss. However, while studying the draft on Wednesday, Sumanthiran noticed that the 13 amendments suggested by the Supreme Court were not included in the relevant draft. Accordingly, Sumanthiran informed the speaker about this and went directly to the relevant chamber where the officers of the Attorney General’s Department were staying with the Deputy Secretary General to investigate these amendments one by one. The officials of the Attorney General’s Department also saw that the relevant amendments were not included in the draft.
Tiran has also arrived
When this situation was reported, Tiran too went to the relevant booth in the middle of the assembly and took steps to exchange ideas with Sumanthiran and others. After understanding the situation, Tiran said that he would work to add the relevant amendments to the draft in the future. Tiran calmed down a serious objection that had arisen by presenting the facts to Sumanthiran in this manner. However, it is still unclear whether the relevant amendments were included in it.
However, the information we have so far says that the government is preparing to add several more amendments to this bill in the future. There is news that the government is planning to present and pass the amendments to the parliament, especially after submitting and adopting many of the proposals presented by the Asian Internet Alliance.
‘Inside Politics’ column reveals a new conflict that has emerged between two prominent personnel. This conflict is between Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena and Mr. Karu Jayasuriya. Due to the fact that Mr. Karu Jayasuriya has actively contributed to some operations of the President in the past, it has been seen that Mr. Karu Jayasuriya is currently playing a big role in the government. Once, the President launched a very successful operation to postpone the local government elections by using Karu. While the President was using various subterfuges to postpone the local government elections, the Janasabha system that Karu had presented in those days became the major weapon used for that purpose.
Karu’s idea was to form committees within the villages and give political power to the village. When the President was looking for ways to postpone the local government election, the President immediately took the necessary time to take out the proposal and implement it. Allocation of money from the budget. Accordingly, a separate office was opened for Karu in the Presidential Secretariat, and several close friends of Karu were also seen working there. Accordingly, Karu and others have been sitting in the President’s Secretariat and doing some work to advance this Janasabha program..
However, before leaving for Switzerland, the President took steps to hold a special discussion with Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, Minister in charge of Local Government, Karu, Prasanna Ranatunga, Manusha Nanayakkara, State Minister Ashoka Priyantha and officials of the Prime Minister’s Ministry to discuss this Janasabha system. At the beginning of the discussion, Ashoka objected to the Janasabha system and pointed out that this is a program that is implemented in that form at the request of non-governmental organizations. Manusha also pointed out that if this is implemented through the government, politics should be involved. However, it was known that Dinesh flipped a big bucket right before the President.
The reason was that the members of the government did not know anything about this. It was a special incident that Dinesh, who was the minister in charge of the subject, did not know anything about it. Accordingly, Dinesh publicly mentions the practical problems of the program, the opposition of the ministers, the opposition of the priests and party members in the villages. One of the strongest accusations levelled there was that this system was designed in such a way that a non-governmental organization would operate.
Karu gets angry
While Dinesh continued to accuse in this way, Karu could be seen getting angry at one point. Accordingly, Karu immediately said, ‘This is not something I have brought according to my personal wishes. I came up with this according to the idea of the President. I accepted this as a help to him…’ he said. Dinesh and Prasanna, who were in the discussion, immediately said, ‘No, this is not a problem with you. Even our MPs do not know what this is and what is happening. We are telling them to do this work by making them aware…’ the President said to Prasanna that he should organize a discussion with the MPs and inform them about it.
Accordingly, Prasanna planned to organize a meeting between the Janasabha officials and the MPs of Pohottuwa on February 24.
The meeting gets heated
In this regard, a serious discussion once again emerged in the ruling party’s group meeting held last Tuesday. A large number of Ministers from Pohottuwe participated in this meeting chaired by the Prime Minister, and the first issue was raised by State Minister Ashoka Priyantha.
What is this Janasabha story? We know nothing about this. No one informed us about this. This is a big problem. Now there are conferences to discuss this. Circulars have been sent to the Divisional Secretaries. There is a different agenda here.’ When Ashoka said, the Prime Minister also gave his comments approvingly.
How do you call MPs? They don’t even know what’s in it.’ When Dinesh said, Prasanna gave some explanation and said that the councilors were called to explain the Janasabha system. Dinesh questioned again and said, ‘Members of Parliament should first know what they are raising awareness about.’
State Minister Indika Anuruddha intervened in the discussion. Indika said that Karu’s office has even issued a circular to the divisional secretaries in this regard, through which they have been informed to implement the Janasabha system before March 31. Then Dinesh said that he did not know anything about it. He immediately indicated that he should make a phone call to the Divisional Secretary of his province, turn on the phone’s ‘speaker’ and ask her about this. When the Divisional Secretary declared that the information was true, everyone in the MP group asked the Prime Minister that as the minister in charge of the subject, the Prime Minister should not allow it to happen at all.
Dinesh gets tense
‘Prime Minister, don’t allow this. This is something that belongs to your subject area. You do not even know that such a circular is issued from an office in the Presidential Secretariat. Act on this immediately. If that is not the case, the government officials will also get into trouble by doing these things.” the MPs informed Dinesh. Dinesh said that it is only a secretariat and has no legal status.
‘It is only one secretariat. The circulars issued by it are not legal. But I cannot go there and issue orders not to do this. Therefore, first of all, cancel the meeting you have called. Because MPs don’t even know about this. Therefore, inform the MPs about this first. On the other hand, what will they do if these MPs oppose this in the Parliament?” Dinesh said there, it was seen how everyone listened silently.
We are the victims
After that, the group of MPs discussed the online bill that the government is preparing to pass. Here, Prasanna was the first to comment and said that through this, the court has taken steps to deprive the insult of court. Then many MPs pointed out that this should prevent the possibility of insulting not only the judiciary but also the Parliament. At this time, even the Attorney General was present at the MP group meeting, and it was noted the MPs commented in a way that accused attorney general.
However, at the end of the meeting, a number of MPs whispered that this bill could be a problem for the government MPs in the future.
‘Since we got involved in this, this is a work for us as well. The day we go to the opposition, we will also have to suffer from this bill. Members of Parliament could be seen saying to each other, “Members of parliament should read this bill carefully and understand.”
President to Australia
Last week, the opposition leveled a robust accusation against the President, alleging that he frequently travels abroad. Both Opposition leader Mr. Sajith Premadasa and JVP leader Mr. Anura Kumara Dissanayake, both within and outside Parliament, claimed that the President has undertaken 18 foreign trips in the last 17 months since assuming office. Anura Kumara further alleged that the President has allocated an additional 2000 lakh rupees, beyond the budgetary provisions, for these expenses and other presidential expenditures. Notably, these statements were made in Parliament while the President was abroad, visiting Switzerland and Uganda.
Now, we are set to disclose the details of the President’s 19th foreign visit through the Inside Politics column. On this occasion, the President has chosen Australia as his destination. He plans to participate in a climate change conference scheduled for February 9th in Perth, Australia.
A proposal from Chandraka to Maithri
It has been seen that the topic related to the presidential election has become a hot topic in the political field. The latest figure to join this battle is none other than former President Mrs. Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga. Chandrika has thus re-entered the political arena with the aim of making President Ranil Wickremesinghe the candidate of the government and rallying other groups to his support. Accordingly, Chandrika first tried to get the support of the United People’s Freedom Alliance to run Ranil in the presidential election. Chandrika had launched this operation using Mahinda Amaraweera, who was close to her. But Chandrika had to abandon the operation after a strong opposition arose from within.
Chandrika’s next plan was to take over the power of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and through that prepare a platform to support Ranil. For that, Chandrika took steps to send a series of proposals to Sri Lanka Freedom party leader and president Maithri through an intermediary last week. Chandrika had informed Maithri that she was ready to rejoin the SLFP, and for that she should be given the party’s chairmanship and executive powers. Although Maithrie received this proposal, Maithrie has not yet given any response.
A proposal from Pohottuwa
Currently, a division within Pohottuwa has surfaced, centered around Ranil. Notably, influential figures like Prasanna Ranatunga and Dilum Amunugama have publicly advocated for giving Ranil another chance. However, Basil, the key strategist of Pohottuwa, currently residing in the United States, proposes that Ranil be granted time until March to decide on his presidential candidacy. Basil suggests announcing Pohottuwa’s position only after Ranil’s decision is firm. However, the plan faced a setback as Basil extended his stay in the U.S. following a temporary withdrawal of support from millionaire businessman Dhammika Perera, who was ready to endorse Basil as Pohottuwa’s candidate.
During Basil’s absence, there is a reported effort to push a proposal designating Ranil as the presidential candidate for Pohottuwa, while maintaining Mahinda in a prominent role. This move is allegedly being orchestrated in Basil’s absence, and pressure is being exerted on Mahinda through various family connections. If successful, the group aims to convene a meeting and pass the relevant resolution before Basil returns to Sri Lanka.
A big team from America
In the past, we have reported on many occasions through this column how an international crisis has arisen due to the Chinese ships that have come to Sri Lanka. We also reported that both countries had officially protested against the entry of these Chinese ships into Sri Lankan waters despite Indian and American objections. Even in January, a Chinese research ship had requested permission to enter Sri Lankan waters in this way, but the government had decided not to grant permission based on the existing international environment.
Nevertheless, the imminent arrival of a Chinese ship in the Maldives has stirred regional tensions once more. Analysts predict a resurgence of political tensions in the Indian Ocean, prompting objections from India and the United States. In response, a high-level American delegation is set to visit the Maldives in the coming days to address the issue. Subsequently, the delegation is expected to proceed to Sri Lanka for discussions. Notably, the talks will encompass Sri Lanka’s role in future operations against Houthi rebels in the Red Sea, with reports indicating the deployment of a US-donated warship by Sri Lanka for this purpose.