Maithripala Sirisena broke the SLFP-led United People’s Freedom Alliance and became the common candidate of the UNP for the 2015 presidential election. At that time, the alliance led by the SLFP called Maithripala a traitor. But when Maithripala won, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party handed over the leadership of the party to Maithripala and, Maithripala, took a majority of members of the party in the parliament to appoint Ranil, who was his political enemy at that time, as the prime minister.
According to Maithri-Ranil, the 19th constitutional amendment too was passed. Maithri-Ranil passed the government’s budget by two-thirds. He also took over the ministry. In the 2015 general election, the United People’s Freedom Alliance won 95 seats. 43 of them joined the Maitri-Ranil national government. There were only 52 in the opposition.
‘Why can’t Ranil play the same game Maithri played…?’
Like Maithripala, Ranil was not the president by popular mandate, but he became president by the votes of Podujana Peramuna members. Ranil got the candidacy of Podujana Peramuna just as Maithri got the common candidacy of U.N.P. When Ranil won, everyone thought that Ranil would disband the Samagi Jana Balavega and bring the Samagi Jana Balavega under the UNP just as Maithri and the Rajapaksas and others took the leadership of the party by scaring them.
For that, Ranil followed the same tactics as Maithri adopted. He brought out corruption files against Samagi Jana Balavega leader Sajith Premadasa.also threatened that he has corruption files of Samagi Jana Balawega MPs and offered Ministerial and other privileges to them. But apart from Harin and Manusha, not a single member of Samagi Jana Balavega went to Ranil.
Sajith was not afraid of Ranil, as Rajapakse was of Maithree. Since then, the media team that is shopping for Ranil’s government has been planting rumours that 30 to 40 MPs will defect from Samagi Jana Balawegaya to join the government of Ranil’s. This month marks one year since Ranil became Prime Minister. During the previous year, many front page headlines in newspapers, radio and television news were filled with members of Samagi Jana Balavega joining Ranil in their numbers.
However, only Rajitha Senaratne has stated that he will be joining Ranil. Maithrie was not the leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party when he became the United National Party’s common candidate. However, Ranil was the former leader of Samagi Jana Balawega MPs when he was elected president with the votes of Pohottuwa MPs. These MPs abandoned Ranil, claiming that he could never be president. Now that Ranil has been elected president, he says, ‘I have been elected president, and now come,’ but the Samagi Jana Balavega MPs say no.
Why is that…?
The reason is none other than the fear of going with Ranil and losing the councillorship in the next election. This happened to those who went with Maithri who became the president with 63% mandate and became ministers. In the 2015 general election, the SLFP MPs who went with Maithri and became ministers in the Maithri-Ranil government suffered a crushing defeat. They had to be included to the parliament from the party’s national list. The MPs of the Samagi Jana Balawega read this calamity well. They know that if they go with Ranil, they will have to contest from UNP.
‘Why now Ranil is Podujana Peramuna’s presidential candidate …?’
Podujana Peramuna also gave that rope to Maitri, at that time, the MPs of Podujana Peramuna said that they should make Maitri the presidential candidate and let Gotabhaya be the prime ministerial candidate to represent the Rajapaksa family. On the other hand, Wimal and Udaya Gammanpilala, who criticised Maitri, secretly discussed the proposal to make Maitri the presidential candidate, saying that 50% of the Sri Lankan Freedom Party votes are needed to win the presidential election.
Maithree made a secret deal and ate this rope, threw the constitution away and kicked out Ranil and made Mahinda the prime minister. At this time, Mahinda, Gota, Basil and Maitri met alternately. Maitri thought that Podujana Peramuna would stand by him. In the end what happened was that the Sri Lanka Freedom Party slipped away from Maithri and stood with the Podujana Peramuna.
‘Will that happen to Ranil too…?’
Ranil and the UNP members around Ranil do not know that, but the MPs of Samagi Jana Balavega know. On the other hand, Samagi Jana Balawega MPs are not like SLFP or Podujana Peramuna MPs. They are ashamed and afraid. They are reluctant to join the Ranil-Rajapaksa government. Maitri became president and pleaded these MPs and Sajith Premadasa to form a government without Ranil. But they did not like that. They value self-respect more than becoming the prime minister.
During the Gotabhaya struggle, when Sajith was offered the prime ministership, Sajith and Samagi Jana Balavega MPs did not go because they were ashamed that people would laugh. Neither SLFP nor Podujana Peramuna has such shame. Or they accepted the leadership of Maithrie who defeated them and joined their common enemy U.N.P. They accepted the leadership of Ranil, whom they called for 30 years as tiger, a central bank thief, a traitor, and a seller of state resources.
The Podujana Peramuna parties accepted Ranil’s ministries to hide away from their corruptions and other underhand activity accusations. Podujana Peramuna peramuna party members did not accept Maithri even when he disregarded the constitution away and send Ranil out and made Mahinda Prime minister.
‘Mr. Mahinda did a stupid thing…’
They said. They hated Maitri that much. Today, the Podujana Peramuna party members are going to the JVP saying that we are with the compass, out of hatred to Ranil and the Rajapaksa who made Ranil the president.
The members of Samagi Jana Balavega have also suffered from this disease. They abandoned the UNP, which they believed in like a religion, and came with Sajith knowing that Ranil had a deal with Rajapaksas. Now that deal has been proven. They see Ranil as Maithree was seen by the Podujana Peramuna party members.
‘Ranil destroyed the chance to finish off the Rajapaksa…’
The members of Samagi Jana Balavega think so. The henchmen around the MPs of Samagi Jana Balavega want the MP to take a ministry for them to get out of their misery, but the party members do not think so. In 2018, when President Maithri, who was elected and threw out the party leader by the neck, they stood with the leader regardless of his shortcomings because they fought for 30 years after being in the opposition, despite burning houses and losing jobs. Their former leader became the president and obtained IMF loan and show magic by reducing oil and gas, they are still with Sajith and Samagi Jana Balawega just like they were with Ranil in 2018.
If Ranil appoints Sajith the prime minister….?
But it is impossible to think that the Samagi Jana Balavega party will join with Ranil. This U.N.P. or Samagi Jana Balawegaya and Sri Lankan Party or Podujana Peramuna politics are not divided by IMF. Not on the economic factors of whether to go or sell public resources but based on political factors. The Samagi Jana Balawegaya is against the Rajapaksa, Pohottuwa and the U.N.P., who are making deals with them. Podujana Peramuna is against Sajith and Premadsala. Therefore, even if Sajith goes, it is a lie that the Samagi Jana Balawegaya party will go to the government.