Macrons katunayaka visit creates protocol issue
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Sajith very close to form the big alliance
62 govt. MPs sign and hand over a letter to the president
The battle begins
A special point that we pointed out in ‘Inside Politics’ last week was that there are only 365 more days left for the presidential election. We reported that according to the constitution, the president will have to hold the presidential election by next August, and that after another 06 months, the heat of the presidential election will grip the entire country.
According to the current situation, many people are of the opinion that Mr. Ranil Wickramasinghe, the leader of the opposition and the leader of the Samagi Jana Balavega, Mr. Sajith Premadasa, and the leader of the JVP, Mr. Anura Kumara Dissanayake, have entered the battle for the election as presidential candidates representing the main parties and alliances. For that purpose, Nimal Lanza, who was then a strong member of Pohottuwa, hurriedly forming a political alliance for Ranil, and we have reported several times on this column that Lanza’s aim is to win over 40 members of Pohottuwa to this alliance. Accordingly, many thought that Mr. Ranil would enter the presidential race with the blessings of many pohottuwa ministers.
A prophecy from Udayanga
But last week, a revelation made by Udayanga Weeratunga, a close political relative of the Rajapaksa family. This has now become a hotly debated topic within the government, within Pohottuwa and in the political arena in general. As everyone knows, Udayanga Weeratunga is the first cousin of the Rajapaksa family. Udayanga, who served as the Russian ambassador during the 2009-2015 Mahinda Rajapaksa regime, later took steps to act as an intermediary in bringing Russian and Ukrainian tourists to Sri Lanka during Gota’s regime.
However, Udayanga, who is considered to be a close member of the Rajapaksa family, said in an interview with an internet column last week that Ranil the current President would not contest in the next presidential election. Reason Udayanga had pointed out that Ranil would not have Pohottuwa’s support in the next presidential election, and Pohottuwa would present a separate candidate. Accordingly, Udayanga said that Ranil will go a step ahead of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and get an honorable farewell.
A respectful farewell
I am laying the dice and saying that Ranil Wickremesinghe will not contest in the next presidential election. Because Ranil knows that the party members of Pohottuwa will not vote for Ranil. Even several Pohottu leaders asked them to vote for Ranil, the Pohottu party members in the village will not vote for Ranil. That’s why I put the dice and say that Ranil will not come to the presidential election. Udayanga said that he will take a step ahead of President Mahinda and retire from politics in an honorable manner and also revealed some other special facts.
Correct on Gota
‘Nothing I said before was a lie. I said that when Gota was brought into politics, politics was not good for him. I told him that he has to go home first. A month before Gota left the presidency, I said exactly that the people of this country would beat and kick out Gota. So nothing I said was wrong…’
‘And many people in Pohottuwa, where Ranil is now, have met Basil and said that ‘we are not going with Ranil, we are in Pohottuwa’. Udayanga also mentioned that the day before yesterday, a strongman from Gampaha also met Basil and said that we are in Pohottuwa…’.
No one said no
Accordingly, the story of Ranil not running as a candidate in the next presidential election came out from a close relative of the Rajapaksa family, and since last week was a parliamentary week, this controversial story by Udayanga had become a main topic in the parliamentary lobby, and the parliamentary canteen regardless of the ruling party or the opposition. Many members of the opposition seemed to be saying at various places in the parliament that since Udayanga is a close and dear political relative of the Rajapaksa family, it is impossible to think that such a story would be told without the knowledge of the Rajapaksa family.
Also, many people were seen saying that the story that Ranil will not win in the presidential election, which is put forward by Udayanga, has not been denied either by the Rajapaksa family or by Pohottuwa. The MPs were also surprised by the fact that Sagara Kariyawasam Secretary General of Pohottuwa, who responds to almost every matter that arises regarding Pohottuwa, did not say a word about this statement.
What will Ranil do?
Accordingly, if this story told by Udayanga is true, what will Ranil do next if he will not get the support of Pohottuwa in the next presidential election?
This is the next topic that was discussed in various places during the last parliamentary week. A very interesting conversation regarding that was seen taking place in the Parliament dining last week. There, a few government ministers, as well as a few MPs from Pohottuwa and some SJB Youth MPs were having lunch together, and it was noted how Udayanga’s speech was drawn out. The SJB youth MPs also pointed out that Ranil will not run for the presidential election and that he is planning to come to the parliament once again in the general election to play a political game.
Here is the game plan
We are also telling the same story. We know more about Ranil than you. Without coming to the presidential election, he is now planning to get in to the parliament with few U.N.P members in the next general election and play this kind of game again inside the parliament. On the other hand, he thinks that no one will be able to get 50% of the votes in the next presidential election, and the second preference will have to be counted.So, Ranil is looking to see if he can sneak into the parliament through the general election and play a game again…’ while one SJB member pointed out, that in the last meeting of the working committee, the party leader has removed the selection from the working committee. Or to keep the party leadership in his hands.
‘Now look, in the last working committee, Ranil worked to remove the power of choosing the party leader from the working committee and give it to the executive council of the party. What does that mean? It means that he is never ready to give party leadership to anyone. Because he knows that after the next presidential election, there will be a rebellion against his leadership within the working committee.Recently, when there were riots against his leadership, he tried to remove the selection of the leader from the working committee and put it in the executive council of the party. But he could not do it. Now he knows that because there are Rav, Harin and Manusha in the working committee, there will be a rebellion about the leadership again.So last week he removed the party leadership from the working committee and put it in the party’s executive council. So he is the leader of this party until Ranil feels that he has had enough. It won’t change…’ when this SJB MP said, the ministers of Pohottuve could be seen listening to the analysis of the SJB MP, keeping their food aside.
Mahinda Ranil in Shangri-La
Meanwhile, another special secret was revealed in the parliamentary lobby last week. These secrets were revealed by another young member of parliament from Pohottuwa who is close to the Rajapaksa family. This MP had told his loyal MPs in the ruling party lobby that a very secret meeting between former President Mahinda and Ranil had taken place last Tuesday night at Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo. The young MP further mentioned that this meeting was organized by Yoshita Rajapaksa, who was Mahinda’s chief of staff at the time. Another Pohottu member of parliament who was listening to the story said that he had also heard the story and that he had come to know that the member Namal Rajapaksa was somewhat not in favour to it.
I also heard that story. Yoshita is the one who coordinated that meeting. But Namal was a little upset at that meeting. Namal doesn’t like Mahinda that much because he went and met Ranil…’ When this Pohottu MP said, another Pohottu MP said, ‘Does that mean Yoshita is now controlling Mahinda…?’ It was seen that there was some gossip about it and what was going on among the Pohottu councilors at that moment.
However, last week we made a special disclosure on the column ‘Inside Politics’ that there was a very secret meeting between the mastermind of Pohottuwa Mr. Basil Rajapaksa and the President at the Presidential Secretariat Office, and except for two or three of Basil’s closest friends, at least Mahinda was not aware of it. Last week, no weekend Sinhala newspaper had reported the information about the meeting, and we further said there that after Mahinda heard about the meeting through other channels, Mahinda had worked to find out all the details about it. We also mentioned that Mahinda did not ask Basil a word about it.
Sagala Yoshita has also come
However, it is a special event that the secret meeting between Mahinda and the President was organized at Shangri-La Hotel after this secret meeting between Basil and the President. Mr. Yoshitha accompanied Mahinda to the meeting and Mr. Sagala Ratnayake, Senior Advisor to the President, attended the meeting. In the last two talks held between Basil and the President, it is said that Basil had discussed for a long time about the difficulties and the demands of the President due to certain activities of the President, so the President had not joined the discussions willingly. But the ‘Inside Politics’ column has also heard that the President had very willingly participated in the discussion with Mahinda.
The selfie that went too far
Two weeks ago, French President Emmanuel Macron attended a meeting and on his return visited Katunayake Airport to refuel his plane and take a short break while traveling to several countries including Papua New Guinea. As he arrived as a ‘transit’ passenger, the French President stayed at the airport premises and did not enter the country officially. But it was not seen how it was reported from the side of the government. The press releases issued by the government said that French President Emmanuel Macron will visit Sri Lanka and this is the first time a French President will visit Sri Lanka. Also, by releasing a large number of photographs to the media of the president and his ministers going to the Katunayake airport premises and talking to the French president, the government media said that France is ready to support the programs in Sri Lanka.
Broke the protocol
However, this time we are going to tell about another special event that happened during the trip to Katunayake of the French President, which has not been revealed by the other media which we reveal in the ‘Inside Politics’ column. One of the most special events that came to be known here was that the officers of the Presidential Staff who accompanied the President on the trip as well as the officers of the Presidential Media Unit took photos and ‘selfies’ together with the French President. Even though the French President was in some trouble, there was nothing else that could be done at that moment, but the French President did not refuse it.
However, the issue arose when the senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed their displeasure about it. They had pointed out that after a foreign country’s president arrives in a certain country, according to the ‘protocol’, otherwise, according to the hierarchy, other ordinary people cannot join the photo-taking opportunity, except for the president and high-level ministers and officials.
The officers had pointed out that taking personal photos or selfies is prohibited for other officers, and doing so is a breach of protocol. On the other hand, when a president of a powerful country like France arrived at the airport, the officials had pointed out that ordinary people taking personal photos with the president is a serious threat to the president’s security.
Photos are prohibited
The next question arose due to the fact that the officers of the President’s staff who took selfies with the French President had posted them on their social media network accounts. The fact that different people had given different opinions to those photos had also raised some issues.
Accordingly, last week, the Presidential Secretariat had taken steps to issue an announcement affecting its entire staff. The announcement said that it is strictly prohibited for any employee of the presidential staff to take photos with the leaders of the state or to publicize them from now on. It was further stated in the announcement issued by the Presidential Secretariat that no statement can be made regarding the relevant diplomatic meetings and they should only be made through official announcements.
Has Lanza’s failed?
Throughout the ‘Inside Politics’ column, we uncovered facts on several occasions about the new political front to be formed to apoint Mr. Ranil Wickramasinghe as the President again by Nimal Lanza of Pohottuwa. Lanza has planned to build this kind of political alliance, and for this purpose, he opened a new party office at Lake Drive in Rajagiri as well as the official residence used by former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, and about 40 to 50 members of Pohottuwa are ready to join it.
It was revealed to the country for the first time through the ‘Inside Politics’ column that they made calls to recruit to this new alliance. Since Pohottuwa was stuck in a serious political crisis in the beginning, there was a high response from Pohottuwa members of parliament and the representatives of Pohottuwa at the grassroots level, but now it seems to have decreased to some extent.
This is due to the fact that Pohottuwa has achieved some success in the political arena by holding constituencies around the country for the past few months. Due to this, in the past, when a call was received from the President’s Secretariat, the Lake Drive office to the village councilors of Pohottuwe, there was a high response, but now it can be seen that it has decreased greatly. Moreover, in such calls, village level councilors can be seen openly asking who is the leader of this new political alliance.
Is the leader Anura yapa or Lansa?
Who is the leader of that party? One says Nimal Lanza. Another person says Mr. Anura Priyadarshana Yapa. What is the real story of this? It is also heard that these MPs are asking the seniors, “Is the leader of this alliance Anura Yapada or Nimal Lanza…?”
However, under this background, a few weeks ago, Lanza had done another special work at the Presidential Secretariat. That is to make a video ‘presentation’ to the President and the team regarding the formation of the new party and its functioning. Through this presentation, Lanza had taken steps to present a long explanation to the President and the group on how to recruit MPs from Pohottuwa to the new front, how to bring former MPs from the grassroots level to the new front, how to connect them with the party network, and how to build the new alliance step by step.
The opposition is also ready
While such a political alliance is being formed under the leadership of Lanza to make the President the President again, it is also possible to see how several huge political fronts are being formed gradually, led by the opposition. The main political alliance is the new political alliance that is emerging between the Samagi Jana Balawega and the Freedom People’s Alliance represented by Mr. Dullas Alahapperuma and others.
This is at the last stage of the negotiations are these days between Mr. Ranjith Maddumabandara, the general secretary of SJB, and the constitutional expert of the Dullas team, Prof. G.L. According to the party’s internal sources, all arrangements have been made to officially publicize the alliance’s constitution and program within the next few weeks.
Dullas in a new task
In addition, the Dullas team had taken steps to start a new round of negotiations regarding the formation of another broad political alliance last week. Here the plan of the Dallas team is to start a new round of negotiations with all the political parties of the opposition in order to flock the entire opposition to one common program.
Accordingly, last week Dullas and the group took steps to start a round of negotiations with the Communist Party. Subsequently, last Tuesday, Dullas, Nalaka Godaheva and Wasantha Yapa Bandara proceeded to the party headquarters at Darley Road to meet the leaders of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party. That is to discuss with the SLFP leaders about the opposition alliance. Former President Maithripala Sirisena, Party Secretary General Dayasiri Jayasekara and Thilanga Sumathipala participated in the discussion from the Sri Lankan freedom Party side.
A working committee
There was a lengthy exchange of information between the two groups about the current situation in the country. The two groups exchanged views at length, especially on the economic crisis in the country and the breakdown of the law. Here, the Dallas team pointed out that although the government’s revenue target for this year is 900 billion, it has generated only nearly 400 billion in revenue so far. Also, the Dallas team indicated to SLFP leaders that the 2024 revenue target will exceed 1,500 billion and the 2025 revenue target will exceed 2,000 billion.
It was pointed out that this income can be earned from the tax money imposed on the people. Dullas and his group pointed out that if they go to collect tax income from the people in this way under the current situation, it is inevitable that a serious situation will arise in the country, and the people will definitely take to the streets against the government in the future. Accordingly, the proposal of the Dullas team was that the opposition should stand against the government with one voice under a common program against all these repressions in the future.
There the SLFP agreed to that proposal, and Maithrie and others took steps to add another new proposals to it. That is discussions with the political figures representing the left be carried out. Accordingly, their proposal was that a working committee consisting of all the opposition party leaders should be appointed and discuss this program further. The Dallas team also seemed to agree.
After meeting the SLFP, the Dullas team took steps to discuss this program with Mr. Champika Ranawaka’s political party on Thursday. Also, the ‘Inside Politics’column has heard that the Dullas team has already reserved time to discuss this matter with the Janata Vimukthi Peramuna.
A letter from Jagath to Ranil
President Ranil Wickramasinghe came to Parliament last Wednesday and took steps to make a long explanation regarding the implementation of the 13th constitutional amendment and the current economic situation. After finishing his speech, the President went to his official office in Parliament to take a short break.
While the President was staying at the office, Pohottuwa MP Jagath Kumara came to the President’s office to meet the President. He did not come empty-handed but with a file. In that file, there was a letter signed by nearly 60 Pohottu MPs asking them to reconsider the serious crisis that has arisen based on the relief program. After handing over the letter to the President, Jagath took explained the issues to the President at length. Accordingly, the President finally said that he will study the letter and give an answer regarding it.
3 SJB members in Ranil’s room
After Jagath Kumara left the President’s office after the discussion, three more opposition MPs was seen entering the President’s office. There were two MPs from Gampaha representing SJB and one MP from Kurunegala. Apart from this, several Tamil MPs were also seen in that group. The group could be seen talking with the President for a considerable time in the office with the door closed.
However, during this discussion, State Minister Chamara Sampath Dasanayake, who is under great controversy these days, was also rushed to president’s office to meet the President. But on the way he came to know that a group including SJB MPs were discussing with the President in the President’s Office.
After learning this, Chamara Sampath Dasanayake was quite angry. ‘What the hell is this? We elected the president in the parliament. Now they have all gone and crept behind it and made the President theirs. We have to wait for them to come out to talk to the President…’ Chamara Sampath was seen saying in a loud voice so that the Ministers outside the President’s Office could hear.