In the 1990s, when Chandrika joined Sri Lankan Freedom Party leader Mrs. Bandaranaike to form the ‘podu peramuna’, Anura Bandaranaike, the crown prince of the Bandaranaike family, told something for which the whole country laughed.
‘Our sister is allying with some three-wheel parties. All the party members of that alliance can be bundled into a three-wheeler and sent away…’
When Anura said this the U.N.P. government jumped up and clapped. Anura joined the U.N.P saying that his mother and sister had betrayed the SLFP policies by forming this alliance.
‘Chandrika betrayed Sri Lanka Freedom party ‘s policies forming the alliances…’
Along with Anura, a large number of the party’s strong men such as MPs Janadasa Niyathapala, Tilak Karunaratne and Pradeep Hapangama joined the U.N.P. to strengthen President Wijetunga.
‘How many votes do K.P. Silva, Bernard Soyza and Nihal Perera of ‘Desha Vimukthi’ party have? The spirit of the party is gone. Chandrika is crazy…’ These were the remarks made by the Sri Lanka Freedom party stalwarts at that time who were close to Mrs. Bandaranaike .
Chandrika to the dismay of all the UNP members took the deputy speaker of the parliament the superhero of Sinhala Cinema Gamini Fonseka into her fold. Victor Ivan, an alternative newspaper editor who was close to Chandrika and was against Gamini’s presence, continued to attack Chandrika and said Chandrika consumed UNP dirt with both hands. But Chandrika took Gamini to every platform she went to attract votes.
Gamini when Lalith, Gamini and Premachandra, who brought the impeachment against Premadasa, got onto the stage of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, the stalwarts of the Sri Lankan Freedom Party grumbled saying U.N.P. thieves on their stage. SLFP attacked them claiming that Lalit sank ships, Gamini ate Mahaveliya, and Gamini had apple orchards in Australia. But Mrs. Bandaranayake and Chandrika believed that to win the elections, they needed the breakaway votes coming from the U.N.P. Their decision was correct. Finally, Chandrika formed a government after 17 years with three-wheel parties. The UNP suffered a crushing defeat.
Today, Sajith and Samagi Jana Balavegaya follow this strategy of Chandrika. Shan entered politics in 1978. He is a giant who learned politics under Mrs. Bandaranaike. Shan Vijayalal is a flag bearer of the South. He became the chief minister candidate in the 2004 Southern Provincial Council election, 2009 Southern Provincial Council election and 2014 Southern Provincial Council election and won with a huge number of votes. Chandrika first made him Chief Minister. After that, Mahinda also made him the Chief Minister. The reason for that is his popularity. He has not been charged with any corruption. They are village politicians.
What happened to the U.N.P. after Ranil became the leader? The village politician clad in Western attire starts talking politics inside five-star hotels in Colombo. They went to the village only during the election period.
But the SLFP -Pohottuwa MPs are not like that. They remained in the village. During the time of Premadasa and JR, U.N.P. MPs remained in the village. Because of this, the SLFP could not capture the village. But after Ranil became the leader, Sri Lanka Freedom Party touched the village. These MPs are not used to talking about politics in English in hotels in Colombo. They talk about politics at the village funeral or the wedding. Shan Vijayalal is such a village and provincial leader. A leader whom people love.
Dilan Perera was a huge shadow behind Chandrika’s 1994 triumph. His father belongs to a leftist family lineage in Badulla. When Anura was forming to destroy leftist leaders including Vijaya-Chandrika with JR Dilans left the SLFP and joined the People’s Party. Later, when Chandrika joined the SLFP again, Dilan was a key figure behind Chandrika. Dilan is one of the few who made the Chandrika wave. That’s how the SLFP, which was in the opposition for 17 years, was brought back to power. The Dilans do politics to win, not lose. He is a good speaker. He rejected the racists of the Sri Lankan Freedom Party and advocated for racial unity. He is a Royalist. There is a dearth of Royalists in the Sri Lanka Freedom Party. But he is a leader who wears a tie coat and goes down to the village, who did the politics of the village wearing the Royal crown and was never caught in corruption charges. Chandrika advised him to join Ranil in the 2005 presidential election, but he did not like Ranil. He may have liked Samagi Jana Balavega’s communal policy and Sajith’s middle-of-the-road economic policy.
Nalaka Godaheva is an educated person who played a marketing game to give a face to the defeated Rajapaksa alliance in 2015. It was he who created the campaign to get the floating and youth votes that Gota needed to win. He won 3,25,479 lakh votes which is higher than Prasanna Ranatungala’s votes. He was the flag bearer of the 2020 General Election. This number of votes is second to the number of preferential votes obtained by Chandrika in 1994 and Basil Rajapaksa in 2010. At the time of the ‘Aragalaya’, Gota appointed him as a minister, but he refused the minister’s post and bowed to the aragalaya, showing that the mud of the Rajapaksa family was not on his hands.
‘But there are charges against Nalaka Godaheva…?’
UNP said S.B. made palaces in Haguranketha. JVP and SLFP accused Mr. Clean Ranil was sleeping with thieves when SB was taken to UNP. UNP took over the government in 2001 and sent the CID after Mangala by bringing a vote of no confidence that Mangala had committed a credit card fraud. But in 2008, the UNP lifted Mangala in their shoulders.
Maithripala, who was the presidential candidate in 2015, was accused of creating a rice mafia for his younger brother as the Agriculture Minister. In 2015, the UNP raised corruption charges against Dumindala, Rajithala and Champikala who came with Maithri. But after joining in U.N.P. in 2015, they became heroes to the U.N.P. When enemies who are afraid of alliances form, it is natural to cry that they took that corrupt person and this corrupt person. The court acquitted Godaheva of the charges against him.
All these are political animals. They have a good appetite. Since 1994, they have done politics only to win not to lose.
‘Minorities do not like Professor Channa Jayasumana …’
This is the story of the Rajapaksas and the U.N.P. spread
‘Then how did Champika Ranawaka, who campaigned against ‘halal’ and once called Chandrika an extreme racist, who campaigned against the solution of the Tamil problem starting with Hela Urumaya, contested in the U.N.P. in 2015?’
At that time, none of the Hakeems, Rishads and Sumanthiran questioned Champika’s presence. The reason is because at that time Maithripala needed the votes of his Hela urumaya to win.
Ranil had given up Anuradhapura district to the SLFP or Pohottuwa. Channa Jayasumana won 1,33,780 votes from Anuradhapura in the 2020 General Election. Popular characters like Channa Jayasumana are needed in those provinces to win districts like Anuradhapura.
In 2001, some leaders came to the U.N.P. When S.B. joined Navin Dissanayake went and expressed his displeasure to Ranil that he would lose his place in Nuwara Eliya. When Mahinda Wijesekera came, Lakshman Yapa got scared and told Ranil that he would not be able to win Matara. When Kiriella came, Keheliya Rambukwella (a U.N.P. MP at that time) said the same problem.
Are you working hard to increase the number of seats in the district to form a government? Or are you going relax and bring back only the opposition seat and sit in the opposition once again…?’ Ranil asked them.
2001 UNP won. All those who were crying came to the parliament and became ministers.
Governments are formed and votes are not won because of MPs coming from the government to the opposition. Alliances cannot be formed without silent heroes like Bandulal Bandarigodala of the Samagi Jana Balavega, who allow such MPs to come. Governments cannot be formed. The party must take care of those who think about the party before themselves.
There is one similarity between the 1994 Padu Peramuna and the 2024 Samagi Jana Balavega. The Public Front was formed to get a government for the SLFP after 17 years. 2024 Samagi People’s Power Alliance is trying to appoint a president after 30 years by popular vote.