Opposition plans to form a large grand alliance in parliament to fight the government.
New game plan for the provincial council elections
Although the heat of the local government elections has gradually disappeared from the political parties and the public, last week the topic that managed to increase the heat between the political parties once again was the May rallies.
Although the political parties have been working in a lukewarm manner for the past few weeks, due to the May rallies, all the political parties have been seen working in a hurry to actively take to the streets and gather the party members. Here, the main May Rally battle, which was the focus of the country, was held between Samagi Jana Balawega and Janatha Vimukti Peramuna. The reason for this was that while the United National Party and the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna or Pohottuwa were celebrating May Day without playing too much attention but just to save their skin, SJABE and JVP organized May rallies to show their power with their full strength capacity.
SJB May Day Rally
For this Samagi Jana Balawegaya choose Premadasa strong hold. They opted to commence from the Maligawatta P.D.Sirisena ground with the crowd to reach to the A.E. Gunasinghe grounds in Colombo ‘pita kotuwa’ to conduct the rally.
Like last time, JVP chose the highway rather than a stadium for this. Last year, the JVP chose Main Road in front of Pitakotowa Main Bus Stand to hold the May Rally. JVP were able to show it as a large crowd as the party members gathered on the main road. Implementing same method this time too, JVP chose to hold the May rally at the Town Hall Roundabout.
Story behind the selection of town hall premises has a special story. Initially there was talk that the JVP was preparing to hold the May rally at Galle face ground, but later it was suggested that the May rally should be held at the Independece Square or in front of the Fort railway station or at the town hall. Accordingly, JVP leaders had spoken to a powerful minister of the government several times and presented their proposal.
How JVP got ‘town hall’ venue
As Samagi Jana Balawegaya has booked the A.E Gunasinghe grounds near that JVP rally could not be allowed was the minister’s objection. This minister, who refused to give the Independence Square as well but , had informed the JVP that he could give the town hall premises if necessary. That is how the JVP strategically got the Town Hall premises to hold its May rally.
Historically since the time of their founder leader Wijeweera’s time Janata Vimukthi Peramuna held the most impressive and organized May rally. It has been the custom of JVP to hold May rallies in a very orderly and attractive manner. Since then, JVP has brought that show forward in the same way. Although the UNP and Pohottuwa held huge May rallies with the participation of large crowds, the JVP, even with a group of ordinary party members, stood up to other May rallies due to this organizational strength.
Basil’s May Day efforts with the ‘bud’
Amidst all this, the responsibility of conducting the most challenging May Rally was assigned to Pohottuwa. None other than Basil Rajapaksa had taken responsibility for it. Accordingly, Basil played this time not a game to show the crowd by bringing more people than SJB and JVP, but a game to bring together the bud members that had been scattered due to the struggle and officially re-launched it.
Accordingly, Basil did not go to the parade under the leadership of Pohottuvu this time. May did not organise rallies, did not try to fill the Galle Face, instead, what Basil did was to choose Campbell grounds and set up seats in such a way that a limited number of people could be seated there to show the party members those are on the fence that the party was united again. Also, his plan was to confirm and show that there is no chance for Pohottuwa MPs to come back to Parliament contesting from other parties.
Apart from this, some political game was working in Basil’s head for some time. That is the attempt to regain the government power that Pohottuwa had, or the game plan to regain the position of Prime Minister. On several occasions, we have revealed this to the country through the ‘ inside politics ‘ column. The May Rally was held at Campbell grounds by Basil in conjunction with that game plan. There, Basil won the hearts of the former local councillors of the party. He informed all local councils that 50 members from one local council should participate in the May rally. Accordingly, from Basil’s point of view, this year’s May rally of Phottuwa can be said to be a success.
SJB vs. JVP May Day
However, the battle on May Day was between SJB and JVP. This fight went so far that early on the morning of May 1st, an article including the number of participants in the May Rallies of SJB and JVP started circulating on social media, calling it an intelligence report. The reports said that more people are likely to participate in the JVP than in the SJB. But according to the information we have, it is said that the SJB had more people participation than the JVP. But SJB did not have a chance to carry out a media operation to highlight it like JVP. Although the JVP brought people to the town hall road and showed a large crowd, it was not possible SJB to show it as a large crowd as the people were gathered in a sports ground.
Pre & post campaign propaganda
It was also seen how JVP had launched a massive social media operation before and after the rally (pre-campaign – post-campaign). How to prepare the platform, how the MPs come , how Anura distribute banana leaves and eat rice with the party members while the platform is being prepared, how to bring party members, how to conduct the meeting, how to take photos of the party members with party leaders after the meeting, how to clean the playground, etc. Before the rally and after the rally, a massive media operation was carried out step by step from their side. SJB also did all this, but nothing like this was seen to be propagated step by step through the media from their side.
Front line socialist’s May Day
Apart from these three, another special May rally was also seen. It was the May rally organized by the Front line socialist party at the Nugegoda Open Air Theatre. Although not much attention was paid in any media, the Frontliners had worked to hold this in a very organized manner. Although they used to hold meetings like this inside a hall, this time they broke away from that tradition and gave a clear signal to the society about their political progress through the May rally which was held with significant public participation.
Ranil’s Motives behind the IMF debate
The President decided to hold a vote on the agreement signed with the International Monetary Fund and present it to the Parliament recently with several political plans in mind. One of the main ones was to get a group of SJB MPs to vote in favor of it and destroy SJB to pieces. The second plan was to heavily influence Sajith from within the party and get the party itself to vote in favor of the agreement. The third plan was that the Rajapaksas and the Pohottu group, who had always opposed their economic program, to raise their hand in favor of the financial fund agreement, which included their economic plan, such as selling government institutions, cutting welfare, removing government employees, and increasing essential services rates like water and electricity. Through that, to convince Pohottuwa that the policy he had advocated in the past was correct.
Only success Ranil achieved
However, regarding Pohottuwa, it was seen that the strategy that the President had planned succeeded 100 percent. That is through the majority of the people including Mahinda, who has always stood against the sale of government institutions, cuts to public servants, and cuts to people’s welfare, voted in favor of it.
However, initially Mahinda and Namal were not to vote in favor of the IMF agreement when it is presented to Parliament. They were to abstain the assembly during the polling. After knowing the position of Mahinda and Namal, Sagara Kariyawasam, who was the general secretary of Pohottuwa, and 12 seniors of Pohottuwa also decided not to be in the parliament during the polling.
Economic experts advise to Mahinda
Mahinda and Namal had reasons for making this decision. After getting the agreement in the bud, Mahinda took steps to hand it over to several economic experts who had given him economic advice . After a long study, they had informed Mahinda that it contained many clauses that were harmful to the country . For example, those economic experts had pointed out to Mahinda that it is proposed here not only to sell loss-making government institutions, but also to sell profit-making government institutions. Also, they had advised that Mahinda should not vote for this agreement in order to avoid it, as there may be massive trade union and public opposition against this agreement in the future
Accordingly, about 15 seniors of Pohottuwa, including Mahinda, Namal, had decided not to be in the parliament at the time of polling. According to that decision, on the day of polling, Mahinda went to Kandy and participated in many rituals including worshiping Dalada.
Operation to bring Mahinda back
Under this background, by the afternoon of Friday when the voting was held, due to the absence of many seniors from Pohottuwa in the council, the strongmen of the government had realized that if a group from the opposition did not vote in favor of the agreement, there was a risk that the government would not even have a majority of 113.
Thus , the government had to set aside the plan that a SJB group would join the government and immediately launch an operation to bring Mahinda and all the members of Pohottuwa to the parliament. For that, the strongmen of the government used a third party very close to Basil and the Rajapaksa family. The strongmen of the government, who immediately sent a message to Basil through him, said that at the time of the polling of the agreement, that they should somehow arrange to bring Mahinda and Pohottuwa’s group to the parliament.
According to that notification, Basil immediately called Mahinda who was in Kandy and contacted him. Basil explained the situation to Mahinda. He managed to get Mahinda to agree to vote in favor of the IMF agreement regardless of the conditions. According to that operation, if Mahinda did not enter the Parliament with the seniors of Pohottuwa by Friday afternoon, the IMF vote would be adopted by government without a majority of 113.
However, Despite Mahinda voting in favor of the agreement, Namal Rajapakse remained in his original position and decided to leave the parliament without voting for it. Moreover, after learning that Mahinda changed his decision at the last moment and came to the House to vote in favor of the agreement, Namal immediately sent a message to Mahinda and informed him to leave the House without voting. But Mahinda replied and informed Namal that he will vote in favor of the agreement as he has now come to the parliament.
Vajira failed in his Mission
In this way, creating a division even within the Rajapaksa family, the government managed to get the votes of Mahinda and Pohottuwa in favour of the agreement. However government’s efforts based on the Samagi Jana Balawegaya turned out to be a complete failure. Ranil had handed over the mission of getting Sajith and SJB to support the agreement to Vajira Abeywardena just as Basil had handed over the mission of getting the Mahindas to support the agreement. Accordingly, Vajira’s mission was to get the whole party, including Sajith, to vote in favour of the agreement and pass it with a two-thirds majority, or to bring a group from SJB to the government and split SJB into two.
Vajira used none other than Rajitha Senaratne who has been waiting to join the government for a long time asking for the Health Minister ship. The information that has come out so far says that Rajitha had launched a big operation within the SJB during those few days to get a group of SJB to support the agreement. But in the meeting of MPs that had been called few hours before the vote on the agreement, had decided to boycott the vote and leave the House, not only Rajapaksa’s but also Vajira’s plans were completely crushed.
SJB disciplinary committee
However, we have taken steps to reveal a lot of information about Rajitha to the country not only through this ‘inside politics ‘ column, but also through the website that we are promoting. The end result of those disclosures we made was to build a big opposition against Rajitha not only within the party but also within the country. Accordingly, the organizers and party members who came to meet the members of the party who went to their villages for new year had strongly indicated to them that they should immediately take steps to expel Rajitha from the party. Those party members had further pointed out to the MPs that the fact that Rajitha is still in the party demanding government minister ship is not good for the party.
Upul Jayasooriya committee
SJB leader Mr. Sajith Premadasa assigned the party’s disciplinary committee to deal with Rajitha after the party councillors informed Sajith of the village’s party member’s opinion. But with the intervention of several senior members of the party, the process of expelling Rajitha from the party was temporarily stopped, but as a result, the party had the opportunity to appoint a very powerful disciplinary committee. Accordingly, Sajith arranged to appoint Mr. Upul Jayasuriya, a renowned President’s lawyer, as the chairman of the disciplinary committee.
However, one could clearly see through this chain of events. That is that the voter base of Samagi Jana Balavega has refused to join Ranil again. Even if Ranil is the president, the UNP voter base which is with SJB is not ready to stand with Ranil again. Ranil has no power within the UNP voter base. That the door of SJB will not be opened again for anyone who leaves SJB and go to Ranil. Even though Rajitha realized this reality at the last moment and respected the decision of the party, Rajitha’s political future in Kalutara district is in a precarious situation. In short, there is serious doubt about whether Rajitha has the ability to come to the parliament in SJB ticket, or from Kalutara votes once again.
One defector from SJB
In this way, the Going by the decision taken by SJB not to vote for the agreement, Rajitha also followed it, but only one member of SJB went against it and together with the government voted in favour of the agreement. It was none other than A.H.M. Fawzi. Although Fawzi was defeated in the last general election in Colombo, when Member of Parliament Mujibur Rahman decided to resign from the position of Member of Parliament to join the Colombo Mayoral race, the opportunity arose for Fawzi, who was next on the list, to enter Parliament again. But since coming to the parliament, Fawzi has been seen working closely with the government rather than working with the SJB group of MPs. Accordingly, in the end, Fawzi voted for the IMF agreement.
Axe Fawzi !
The immediate result of this was that Fawzi became the first victim of the system built up within the SJB to operate on Rajitha. Accordingly, Sajith immediately decided to suspend Fawzi’s invitation to the party’s group meeting. Moreover, Sajith also signed the letter of suspension of Fawzi’s party membership last Tuesday. Accordingly, Sajith has now decided not only to Fawzi, but also to any person who is with Fauci, not to be nominated by Sajaba in the future.
In this way government’s efforts to fish Rajitha or a group of Sajba MPs or entire SJB to vote for IMF agreement was a utter failure. It has been seen that there has been some opposition within the government against Vajira who launched this operation. That is because due to the failure of that operation and the strict action taken by SJB after that, the atmosphere of any SJB MPs joining the government has been completely abolished.
In addition to this, the media had recently reported about another SJB MP, Vadivel Suresh, that he was going to join the government and that he had discussed it with the President. The root of this problem was a problem that arose during the last local government elections campaign period. There, Vadivele had organized an election campaign meeting in Passara Madolsima area, and Sajith had planned to participate in it. Sajith went to Badulla to join it, but due to his sudden illness on the way, Sajith did not get a chance to join it.
Although Sajith informed Vadivel about it, more than five thousand party members were present at that meeting, so Vadivel was in great discomfort in front of the party members due to Sajith’s absence. However, because Sajith joined another meeting in Nuwara Eliya that evening, Vadivel gave a statement to the media and said that Sajith should come back to Madolsim and apologize to the people of the plantation. But that event was a bit under wraps last season.
Two May Day rallies by one party
However, when SJB organized the May rally, Vadive had requested Sajith and the party to allow a separate May rally to be held in Estate sector as bringing the people of estates to Colombo is a costly affair. Sajith gave permission for Vadivele’s argument as it was justified, and even took steps to have Kavinda Jayawardena and Chaminda Wijesiri participate in it representing the party. Accordingly, it was also noted as the first time in history that two May rallies were held by the same party.
However, at this rally held in Badulla, to everyone’s surprise, Vadivel once again said that if Sajith does not come to Badulla and apologize to the people, he is ready to work together with the President. What no one knew was that Vadivel had already got an appointment on Wednesday to discuss with the President.
Badulla May Day rally
However, Sajith and the group who were at the Colombo May Rally came to know about Vadivel’s speech at the Badulla May Rally. At that time, the party had taken a principled decision to take a firm decision on Rajitha’s and Fawzi’s issue, so everyone told Sajith with one voice that a decision should be taken immediately on Vadivel as well. Everyone pointed out to Sajith that everyone has no ability to act or issue statements within the party as they wish, and that everyone should follow the same policy. Accordingly, when the group pointed out to Sajith that a quick decision should be taken regarding Vadivel, Sajith said that after finishing the work of the May rally, let’s discuss it and take a decision.
Accordingly, last Tuesday night, Sajith had organized a dinner party for the party leaders of the Samagi Jana Sandhanaya at the ‘Calambo Club’ hotel. While various topics were being discussed, at one point, the incident related to Vadiwel was also seen to be brought to the discussion table. There too, when many party leaders said with one voice that Vadivel should be removed, Digambaram, who was present at the discussion, presented another idea to Sajith.
No need to rush. I spoke with Vadiwel yesterday. What he said was wrong. If he has a problem that you could not go to Madolsima, he should solve it in another way. Otherwise, talking like that on the public stage will not work. Please give one more day. I think that problem will be solved by tomorrow. Sajith also agreed with Digambaram.
Vadivel met President
According to the time received from the President on Wednesday, Vadivel had gone to meet the President first. Since the President was getting ready to leave for London, he said that some basic issues of the plantation people could be briefly discussed and discussed again after his return from London. Thus, after finishing the discussion with the President, Vadivel came directly to the office of the leader of the opposition.
Meet with Sajith
At that time, a special discussion was being held in the opposition leader’s office about the banking bill to be brought by the government under the leadership of Sajith. It was attended by experts from the banking industry and leaders of Samagi Jana Sandanha, and it was a special event that Vadiwel too came and sat at the negotiating table even though nothing happened. However, it was seen that Sajith continued the discussion without noticing it.
Accordingly, as soon as the discussion was over, Vadivel came to Sajith and took steps to inform Sajith of all the matters discussed in the meeting with the President that morning. Vadivel said that the people of the plantations are not even prosperous and those people are suffering a lot and he met the President to discuss those problems. Although Vadivel apologized, Sajith did not ask Vadivel anything further. Accordingly, the discussion ended there.
Meanwhile, the opposition, which was divided in the past, has now shown signs of coming together on one platform because all the parties of the opposition have come to a certain unanimity regarding the Anti-Terrorism Act, the Broadcasting Authority Act, the Central Bank Act, etc. to be brought by the government. Two weeks ago, two rounds of talks were held here, in which all party leaders except JVP were present. Also, the JVP is currently in the position that all the opposition should come together and fight against the repression of the government. However, many people in the opposition are of the opinion that this opposition alliance should meet regularly and come to some agreement regarding parliamentary affairs
Imtiaz as the convener
Last week, Ratana Thero informed Sajith that this opposition alliance headed by SJB should meet and discuss at least twice a month. Accordingly, SJB has now decided to meet twice a week in Parliament to discuss common matters. Also, last week, Sajith took steps to appoint Mr. Imtiaz Bakir Makar, who was a political figure acceptable to all, as the convener of this general opposition.