Opposition Loses Confidence in Speaker
JVP Shifts from Indian Expansionism to “Main Tumse Pyar Kartha Hoon”
‘Pohottuwa’ to Strengthen Ties with President
SJB Faces ‘Storm in a Teacup’
SLFP’s Decision to Bring Back Chandrika Bandaranaike Draws Criticism
The hidden secret
Throughout both political circles and everyday conversations, it’s widely acknowledged that this year marks the presidential election, a pivotal event determining the country’s executive leadership for the next five years. Consequently, since the year began, significant political turbulence has unfolded, primarily revolving around key parties. This dynamic has led to shifts in allegiances, the emergence of new political figures, and a plethora of discussions and even conspiracies among the populace. Amidst this flurry, one event managed to captivate the entire nation’s political landscape virtually overnight: the unexpected visit of JVP leader Mr. Anura Kumara Dissanayake to India. This development holds particular significance given the JVP’s historical stance as a staunchly anti-India political entity, and the party’s efforts to maintain secrecy surrounding the trip until its commencement only added to its intrigue.
As everyone knows, more than 100,000 people died for it during the 71 JVP armed rebellion and the 88-89 armed rebellion. The main politicians, elites, scholars, the elderly, artists, and others from all fields’ opinions of the common theme of both revolts was Indian expansionism in Sri Lanka. At that time, strong opposition to India had become a major topic of the JVP. In particular, JR signed the 1987 Indo-Lanka Agreement and introduced the provincial council system to the country. When the government was working, on it JVP took a strong stand and led a big protest against it inside the country. Rajiv Gandhi, who came to Sri Lanka to sign the agreement, was attacked, and the JVP at that time was able to turn the entire country into one fire. International statistics have even confirmed that the huge rebellion started against the Indo-Lankan agreement and ended with more than 60,000 people being killed.
Even Vijaya Kumarathunga, a famous artist who was most loved by the people of the country, who had come forward to speak in favour of the Indo-Lanka Agreement, was shot in the head in front of Polhengoda House for the crime of supporting the Indo-Lanka Agreement. Because of this, when talking about JVP, the first thing that comes to everyone’s mind is the JVP’s rebellion against India’s expansionism in the country. But in the end, JVP not only participated in the provincial council elections created according to the Indo-Lanka agreement but also participated in the provincial councils as its representatives.
First invitation to Sajith
However, even though the JVP’s India opposition gradually faded, a major debate erupted in Sri Lanka as a result of the return of JVP leader Mr Anura Kumara Dissanayake from India. The reason for this was that, based on JVP history, this is equivalent to a major political earthquake. Anura Kumara also made international headlines last week thanks to the Indian media, which gave his trip to India a lot of attention.
However, this invitation to JVP came from the Indian High Commission several weeks ago. Mr. Santhosh Jha, who came to Sri Lanka as the new High Commissioner of India, had planned to allow the main opposition party leaders in Sri Lanka to discuss with the Indian government as his first task. Accordingly, Mr Sajith Premadasa, the leader of the opposition, was the first to receive the invitation from the Indian High Commission. But Sajith did not have a chance to allocate dates for it due to the many programs that had been used in the last few weeks. Sajith informed the High Commission of India that they cannot be cancelled as they have talked to the respective schools to provide smart classrooms to the children under the Sakwala program many months ago and informed them that the last few days of February can be reserved for that purpose.
Gives dates to the entire opposition
Apart from Sajith, the Indian High Commissioner’s Office had also called the Tamil National Alliance and the Sri Lanka Freedom party leader Maithripala Sirisena and requested them to give them a date to come to New Delhi. According to that request, Maithripala had given the date on February 16. The reason for this was that Maithrie was leaving for America on an official visit on the 13th. Maithripala will stay in Washington on the 13th, 14th, and 15th and will then return to India on the 16th and meet the Indian authorities in New Delhi. According to that schedule, India had arranged to give JVP a date in early February.
The trip is a secret
After the dates were fixed for the Indian visit, JVP kept it very secret. The reason for this was the opinion of JVP leaders that if the information about Anura’s visit to New Delhi to meet the Indian authorities leaked, there would be strong opposition and it could hinder his visit to India. Accordingly, JVP managed to keep the relevant matter a secret until boarding the plane to go to India. They had planned to board the flight and make an announcement about their visit to India after Anura and the team landed in New Delhi. Accordingly, the plan was executed to the letter, and even the Sri Lankan media came to know about Anura’s trip to India after the Anura-Vijitha team landed at the New Delhi airport.
However, as no one expected, the Indian media gave a lot of publicity to Anura’s trip to India, mentioning that the leaders of the Sri Lankan Socialist Party, who had so far expressed strong opposition to India, had come to India and met with the authorities to make deals.
Where India went wrong
However, in this media reporting, one thing was noticed even the Indian media got it wrong. It is a kind of poll which Indian media used in reporting information about Anura. That opinion poll is nothing else, but it is the result of a poll conducted by a person named Dr Rannan Eliya, who we exposed two or three weeks ago and revealed to the country is completely false. From that opinion poll, Rannan Eliya said that Anura will get a 51% percentage in the presidential election, while Sajith and the UNP candidate will get less than that. Through that, Rannan had said without saying that Anura can be defeated only if Sajith and Ranil join forces.
But as soon as this opinion poll came to the fore, we did a special investigation on it and revealed to the country that this opinion poll was completely false and was prepared from the information given to about 500 people by telephone. Also, we said there that the Neelan Thiruchelvam Institute has provided funds for conducting this opinion poll and that the opinion poll has been conducted based on a government contract. Rannan Eliya was so upset with this revelation that he immediately came to the opposition leader’s office and even tried to discuss this matter with the opposition leader Mr. Sajith Premadasa. But Sajith was not very interested in meeting Rannan Eliya. Instead, Rannan only had the opportunity to discuss with Mr. Sujeewa Senasinghe who was in the opposition leader’s office at that time. We mentioned these three weeks ago through the ‘Inside Politics ‘ column.
Another poll is out
However, after our disclosure, Rannan Eliya’s funding from Neelan Thiruchelvam was stopped. That was confirmed about a week ago in an opinion poll conducted by Rannan Eliya targeting the general election. As a result, Rannan Eliya said that if a general election is held, the JVP will get a percentage of 37%, while the other parties will get a lower percentage. While making that disclosure, he had said that Neelan Thiruchelvam Institute had provided funds for him to conduct the poll last time. But Rannan Eliya did not leave any record of who had funded the poll this time.
A joke… a surprise…
Accordingly, we are also very surprised about the Indian media reporting Anura’s trip to India by highlighting the results of such a false and unacceptable opinion poll. The other funniest thing is that some media in this country have tried to convey that this happened based on a special invitation made only to Anura by the Indian government. As we said before, it is just one instance of an invitation from the Government of India to all the opposition political parties. Accordingly, we now have to wait and see what Anura and Vijita, who will come to Sri Lanka after completing their visit to India, will say about the past statements made on the political stage referring to Indian invasion, Indian expansionism, etc.
The President-Government is happy
On the other hand, the President’s side and the government were pleased with Anurala’s trip to India. Because of that, it was visible clearly by the manner how the government gave a lot of publicity to it. Sources close to the government say that the purpose of this is to increase the influence of SJB on Sajith to join with Ranil to spread the word about Anura’s involvement in politics through the visit to India.
How did Kshenuka come?
On a contrasting note, what caught many by surprise was the presence of the Sri Lankan High Commissioner to India, Mrs Kshenuka Seneviratne, at the New Delhi airport to greet Anura as he embarked on his visit to India. Typically, by Sri Lankan government protocol, it is customary for the Sri Lankan High Commissioner or Ambassador in a respective country to welcome visiting dignitaries such as the President, Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers, or other high-ranking officials upon their arrival. Conversely, when a member of parliament travels abroad, it is customary for the embassy of the destination country to assign a lower-ranking official for such formalities, unless special arrangements are made. Furthermore, if an opposition MP visits, it is usually only upon receipt of a special message from Colombo that the Sri Lankan ambassador or high commissioner in that country would extend such courtesies. Thus, many are left questioning why the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka personally attended the airport to receive an opposition party leader with only three members in parliament, as it defies conventional diplomatic norms and raises significant speculation.
Sabry too is happy
Later, when journalists asked Foreign Minister Mr. Ali Sabri about this in a press conference held at the President’s Secretariat, it was seen that he approved and praised Anura’s trip to India. Sabry said that the government fully blesses Anura’s visit to India. Sabry also said that the government is happy about Anura’s journey. Accordingly, at the beginning of Anura’s trip to India, the arrival of Kshenuka, the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to India, and the foreign minister’s grandiose comments about Anura’s trip to India can be considered as a series of connected events.
In this way, by bringing the incident of Anura to India to the fore, the government took advantage of it by creating a crisis within the opposition, and last week, several other operations were launched by the government to break the opposition. Thus, the government made plans to create a crisis within the opposition in order to gain some political advantage through the President’s policy statement before presenting it to the Parliament.
One of them was the inclusion of Gayantha Karunathilaka, a member of the Galle District of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya, in a program for the distribution of land deeds in which the President is participating. Harin Fernando was in charge of the entire organization of this event held in Dambulla. Through this, to create a crisis within the society, the government invited Gayanta, who served as the former land minister of the good governance government, to this event. The reason given for that was that when Gayantha was the Minister of Lands, he presented the cabinet paper on the granting of land deeds to the cabinet. Accordingly, Gayanta was also invited, and then the Minister of Lands during the Gotabhaya government, S.M. Chandrasena was also invited.
SM to the back row
However, on the day of the ceremony, a big problem for all the participants was the way the seats were arranged for the guests. Generally, at a state function, the President, Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers and Ministers are assigned front-row seats, while other representatives of the government and guests are assigned seats towards the back. But seeing how the seats were set that day, there was a whisper among many Pothattu ministers that the seats were set in this event without regard for the state hierarchy. In particular, it was said in the whispers among the Pohottuwa councillors that the seats have been set in such a way as in a UNP conference rather than a government event. The reason for that was that UNP leaders, led by the President, were given seats in the first row of the conference. As the land minister of the Yahapalana government, Gayanta was also assigned a front-row seat. But the ruling party member SM, who succeeded Gayanta as the land minister, was given a back-row seat.
After the meeting started, the President in his speech spoke highly of Gayanta who took the initiative to divide these lands. Also, when the President came to the stage to give the certificates, the announcer suddenly announced Gayanta to attend the event as well. As soon as Gayantha’s name was heard, the Pohottu councillors began to look at each other’s faces asking why SM, who was the land minister after Gayantha, was not invited. Accordingly, when the group looked at SM’s face, they saw that he was also frowning in shame. According to the announcement, when Gayantha also came to the stage and distributed the deeds to the people with the President, it was seen that Harin stood aside and only the President and Gayantha were caught by the TV cameras as planned. It didn’t take long for many of the people who were watching it to realize that it was well-planned.
Accordingly, all the media gave more space to this event in the television news that night. They reported the news as if SJB MP Gayanta had also attended the President’s ceremony. The suspicion that Gayantha is holding his ground to join the government is raised among the people.
Objection to Gayanta
With the broadcast of this news, some heat did not arise in the community. This is because even though Gayanta had participated in the meeting held with the district development officers of Galle under the leadership of Sajith, the party leaders did not even inform about any of this. Accordingly, that night Sajith, the most valuable of the four, received phone calls, and many asked whether Gayantha had been informed about this meeting. But Sajith said that Gayanta did not inform him about it. Later they spoke to party general secretary Ranjith Maddumabandara. When Maddumbandara was asked about this, he also told them that Gayanta had not informed him about this. Accordingly, the representatives of the government, who were shocked by Anura’s trip to India, saw Gayanta’s incident as a matter that was able to double or triple that shock.
Gayantha get Scolded
However, Gayanta realized the seriousness of this only after the ceremony was over and went home. Immediately after that, Gayanta received phone calls from the SJB Party members of the Galle district, and through all of them, we could see that Gayanta was strongly opposed. Accordingly, Gayantha, who immediately spoke to Maddumabandara, said that he did not participate in this event to join the government, but as per an invitation from the President because of the work that was being done according to the cabinet paper he presented. There, Maddumabandara replied and said that if so, it should be announced through the media.
People talk to me here and scold or yell at me. I also told them that I would not go to the government. I will come tomorrow and tell this to the media. Gayanta told Maddumabandara and requested Maddumabandara to give him the press conference the next day. Later, when Maddumabandara called Sajith and informed him of this, Sajith did not take it too seriously and said, ‘I don’t have a problem. Ask him to do anything he wants.’ Accordingly, Gayanta came to the opposition leader’s office the next day, but he did not sit down in front of the media. That is because the media reports that they are ready to question about this. Accordingly, Gayanta, who came out of the opposition leader’s office and gave a statement to the journalists waiting outside, said that he would not join the government at all and would not betray the party members who voted for him. Gayanta further said that he would form governments and get ministers only with SJB.
Did Nelson too go?
In addition, to create another crisis within SJB by targeting the policy statement, the government had taken steps to give big publicity through the media that the SJB MP from Polonnaruwa, Kings Nelson, participated in the Non-Aligned Nations Conference with the President, and through that, Kings is also ready to join the government. Through that, the government planned to raise the image of the President greatly during the policy statement. But that was also turned upside down when Kings Nelson, who came to the opposition leader’s office last week, said that this government will last for 6 months only, that SJB will form the next government, and that he is not crazy to join the government under such circumstances.
Boycott thrones speech
While the government was planning to raise the President’s image before the Rajasana speech by using various strategies, Sajith was continuously discussing with the party MPs and the opposition party leaders about the measures to be taken against the government’s program. Everyone told Sajith that the President’s throne speech should be boycotted as the government has taken an anti-democratic path to pass the Online Act, Anti-Terrorism Act etc. As it is not a tradition to boycott or interrupt the President’s opening speech at the start of the new Parliament, it was the position of many that the President should boycott the speech and leave the House after coming to the Parliament. Accordingly, Sajith finally decided to boycott the Rajasana speech with the other members of the opposition after the President came to the House to present it. Accordingly, Sajith informed to convey this message to other opposition parties as well. But for some reason, Sajaba had missed giving it to Dallas and Maitri. For this reason, both Dallas and the Sri Lankan Party were not aware of the boycott of the President’s throne speech.
Apart from this, in this discussion, the statements made by Mr. Sarath Fonseka as the party president were also discussed at length. Many people informed Sajith that if a quick decision is not taken regarding Fonseka, a serious problem will arise for the party in the future. There, information was revealed about a matter that arose during a Zoom discussion held between Sajith, Ranjith Mandumabandara and the party’s constituency organizers. This Zoom discussion was held to thank the constituency organizers who participated in the Sahab protest held at the town hall against the government. As Sajith was a little late to join the Zoom meeting, the Zoom discussion had started between the seat organizers and Ranjith Maddumabandara.
There, the seat organizers who were involved in the discussion told Maddumabandara with one voice that the party should take a final decision regarding Fonseka immediately. Later, after Sajith joined the discussion, the seat organizers proceeded to present the allegation against Sajith Fonseka. But Sajith avoided it and said, ‘No.. No.., don’t talk about it here. We will discuss that separately. I posted this discussion to thank them. We held a big protest rally where everyone worked hard and felt the government. Even though Sajith took steps to end the Zoom discussion by saying, ‘Thank you very much for that…’, Sajith had already realized that he had to take a tough decision regarding Fonseka.
Fonseka is absent from the meeting
Accordingly, the discussion held in the parliamentary group meeting on the morning of the opening of the Parliament, surprisingly on that day, not only Fonseka, but also Rajitha Senaratne, who was accused of being friendly with the President, did not attend the group meeting. Accordingly, the group of MPs took the final decision to boycott the President’s throne speech. In that regard, while exchanging ideas with Wimal, Vasu and Udaya at that moment, they informed that their group had decided to completely boycott the President’s speech in protest against the dictatorial approach of the President and the government, and accordingly, their group will not come to the Parliament that day. Apart from that, after giving this message to the other opposition party leaders, Hakeem, Rishad, Mano and Digambaram, they also expressed their agreement to leave the House in opposition to the President’s speech. Also, after giving the message to the Tamil Alliance, they agreed to it.
Accordingly, as discussed, after the arrival of the President, Sajith and all the Sahab MPs left the House, but Sarath Fonseka, Rajitha Senaratne and Champika Ranawaka remained in the House. Also, two members of the Tamil Alliance remained in the council, and because the message was not properly communicated, it was seen how the members of the Dallas group and the Sri Lankan MPs, including Maithri, remained in the council. But after the Sahab MPs left, the message was not received, but Dallas, Charitha Herath and others were seen to leave the House.
However, G.L. saw Sarath Fonseka in the House while the SJB MPs were leaving. He immediately approached Fonseka and proceeded to announce the decision to leave the House. There, Fonseka said that he did not agree with that decision and that the MPs should remain in the House when the Head of State delivered the Rajasana Speech. Knowing Fonseka’s position, G.L. did not argue with him beyond that. Also, even though Rajitha was in council, G.L. did not talk to him. He also took steps to leave the council. Accordingly, in addition to this group, a member of the JVP, Harini Amarasuriya, who did not join the strike, was also seen listening to the President’s speech in the House, as reported by Sirasa channel that night.
In this way, Fonseka and Rajitha remained in the assembly while listening to the President’s throne speech, but they were not seen together at the tea ceremony given by the President at the end of the throne speech. However, after the President went to attend the tea party, Fonseka stayed in the President’s office in Parliament until the President arrived. That is for a special discussion with the President.
Fony in the President’s room
Several private meetings took place between Fonseka and the President, facilitated mostly through Ashu Marasinghe, as revealed by the ‘Inside Politics’ column. However, we refrained from reporting on these gatherings due to their sensitive nature, involving discussions related to the release of funds from the 2010 presidential election, which were considered Fonseka’s personal affairs.
Following the conclusion of a recent tea party, the President engaged in a 23-minute discussion with Fonseka, who remained present. Although government media initially remained silent on the meeting, they later highlighted it as an opportunity to bolster the President’s image and unsettle the opposition. However, SJB leaders were promptly informed of the meeting. Consequently, SJB has decided to oust Fonseka from his position as party president in the coming days. Additionally, the party leadership has resolved to remove Fonseka from his role as seat organizer.
Last week, in the ‘Inside politics ‘column, we outlined how a discussion between the President and Pohottua ended in a few minutes. There we said that Mr. Sagara Kariyawasam, General Secretary of Pohottuwa protested against not only Pohottuwa but also SLFP and Nimal Lanza group for the discussion. As a result, we discovered that the discussion ended within minutes. However, after revealing the events that took place in that discussion last week, this week we are preparing to reveal the background story that formed the basis of this discussion.
Pohottuwa has now identified Prasanna Ranatunga and Nimal Lanza, who work closely with the President, as the parties who had organized this discussion. The reason is that Prasanna had taken the step of inviting Sagara first for the discussion. on Prasanna’s information to Sagara that there will be a discussion with the President, Sagara reversed and reiterated that the party leaders Mahinda Rajapaksa and Basil Rajapaksa should first discuss it and take a decision. While Prasanna stated that this is a preliminary round of discussion, there is no need to do so, Sagara once again said that there is no point in discussing with the President.
Accordingly, Prasanna did was to speak directly with Basil, who is currently in Los Angeles, and informed Basil of the discussion.
‘Sir, I said that the President wants to discuss with Pohottuwa. This is just a basic discussion. Sir, we can discuss this at length when you come to Sri Lanka…’ After Prasanna informed Basil, Basil called back to Sagara and asked him to participate in the discussion. But Sagara told Basil there too that it was not appropriate to participate in the discussions without the party leadership.
Amaraweera’s phone call
“No, no… Don’t think about it. Sagara, go to the president and discuss with him. Prasanna is bothering me to ask him to come to the discussion…” Sagara agreed to discuss this with the President as well.
However, a problem arose when Sagara received a phone call from Minister Mahinda Amaraweera on the morning of the discussion. In the call, Amaraweera asked, “Are you coming to the discussion with the President?” Sagara replied, “Yes, we are getting ready to go. Why?” To Sagara’s surprise, Amaraweera informed him that they were also invited, as per Lanza’s request. Realizing that other parties were also invited, Sagara immediately called Prasanna to inquire about this.
“Minister, you invited not only Pohottuwa to the discussion with the President? Amaraweera called me and told me he is also coming,” Sagara asked. Prasanna awkwardly responded with a vague explanation, saying, “No, no, it must have been for another discussion.”
Unsatisfied with Prasanna’s response, Sagara promptly informed the party leaders. Although Namal was initially prepared to participate, he decided against it, stating that there was no point in engaging in discussions held by the President with other parties. Despite this, Sagara participated in the discussion to protest if other parties were present.
Sagara stood firm
As expected, when Sagara arrived at the negotiation table, he noticed several other parties besides Pohottuwa. Seeing representatives from the SLFP, Lanza’s new alliance, and Tiran’s party, Sagara expressed his objection to the President, emphasizing that discussions about elections should begin with Pohottuwa. Acknowledging Sagara’s concerns, the President eventually halted the discussion and postponed it to another day.
Pohottuwa Signals Revival: Leaders Plan Strategic Political Moves
Following the ousting of former President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and the Pohottu government, it was widely assumed that the demand and popularity of Pohottuwa had significantly declined. However, a shift occurred after the death of State Minister Sanath Nishantha, indicating lingering support for Pohottuwa among rural communities.
Recognizing this signal, Pohottuwa leaders have made strategic decisions in internal discussions. They plan to approach future political decisions methodically, avoiding traps set by rival parties. Many decisions have been made, with implementation dates set during these discussions. The State Secret Belt has learned of these plans and anticipates the unveiling of key political decisions as part of this strategic program in the future.
The Youth’s Call for Change
SLFP’s Decision to Bring Back Chandrika Bandaranaike Draws Criticism
The push by young activists to remove Gotabhaya Rajapaksa from the presidency sent a clear message to Sri Lankan politicians. It emphasized the need for elderly politicians unable to lead effectively to step aside, making way for visionary and capable young leaders. The call was for an end to fraud, corruption, and thuggery in politics, advocating instead for the rule of law.
While only a handful of mainstream political parties heeded this message, some continue to cling to traditional political practices, including the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). Founded by S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, who broke away from the UNP, the SLFP saw leadership pass from Sirimavo Bandaranaike to Chandrika Kumaratunga, both from the Bandaranaike family. Chandrika, who served as Chief Minister and Prime Minister before becoming President twice, retired from politics in 2005, after serving two terms.
However, in the current climate of youth-driven politics and the search for fresh faces, the SLFP’s decision to reintroduce the 79-year-old Chandrika into active politics raises eyebrows. The move to hand over leadership of the Podujana Peramuna, led by the SLFP, to Chandrika is seen by many as a step backwards. Instead of embracing new leadership, critics fear the SLFP’s decision will lead to a decline akin to that of the UNP. This parallels the fate of the UNP, which, under Chandrika’s leadership, relinquished its dominance despite having enjoyed significant parliamentary power for decades.
No confidence in the speaker?
Controversy Surrounds Passage of Online Bill in Parliament: Government Accused of Ignoring Supreme Court Orders
The recent passage of an online bill in Parliament has sparked controversy, with both the opposition and civil organizations such as the Alternative Policy Center accusing the government of neglecting Supreme Court directives in the Act. Typically, a bill ratified by Parliament becomes law upon the Speaker’s signature, without provisions for a challenge in moderation. However, allegations of the government’s failure to incorporate Supreme Court-mandated amendments into the bill have created a new dynamic.
Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa and Professor G.L. Peiris publicly asserted that certain Supreme Court directives were absent from the bill. Despite this, they announced intentions to file a case against the Speaker who signed the draft before the Supreme Court. Additionally, the opposition leader has tasked a team of party lawyers with investigating the matter, currently underway.
However, the constitution lacks explicit clauses outlining legal recourse against the Speaker for signing a bill despite Supreme Court orders, leaving the matter open for interpretation. Consequently, SJB has opted to escalate the issue to the Supreme Court for resolution.