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CBK says her suspension to ‘auction’ SLFP

BY Buddhika Samaraweera

Claiming that the decision of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) to suspend her party membership along with that of several others is part of a programme to auction the party to the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), former President and SLFP Chairperson Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga said that she will continue to support anyone who will act on the genuine policies of the SLFP.

Speaking at a media briefing, Kumaratunga said that she had, despite being an SLFP patron, come to know through the media that her party membership had been suspended, but that she had not received any official notification in this regard from the party.

Claiming that SLFP Chairman, former President, and incumbent “independent” MP Maithripala Sirisena had instructed party officials to refrain from inviting her to any event or meeting for a period of over five years, she said that she does not regard the reported suspension of her party membership as a problem.

“The Rajapaksas (a reference to incumbent Government MP Mahinda Rajapaksa who was the SLFP Chairman from 2006 to 2015) began to destroy the SLFP first, and now it is being destroyed by Sirisena. A political party is not merely about its name and registration certificate. There should be policies and people, but the SLFP has no policies or people at present. 

“The people and policies are with me. Wherever I go, SLFP members surround me and ask me to rebuild the party. For some time, senior SLFP members too have been asking me to come forward and rebuild the party,” added Kumaratunga.

Speaking further, she attributed the party’s decision to suspend her membership and those of several other SLFP members to an attempt to auction the SLFP to the SLPP. She claimed that the Rajapaksas had always wanted to establish a Rajapaksa-led SLFP instead of the genuine SLFP. As he was not able to achieve that goal, she said that Rajapaksa had formed the SLPP, of which most members are those who were previously SLFP members. As the SLPP is now being rejected by the people, Kumaratunga claimed that the Rajapaksas are now attempting to capture the SLFP, and that the suspension of her party membership can be believed to be a part of that attempt. 

“The SLPP is now in need of another party. It is much easier for them to capture the SLFP, which is led by Sirisena. However, both the SLPP and the Sirisena-led leadership know that they will not be able to do it as long as I am there. Therefore, they are removing all senior members of the party. 

“Initially, Sirisena removed several senior party members who were against the SLFP joining the SLPP-led alliance. Now, he is removing the rest of the senior members for no reason as if he is mad. However, the real party and party members are with us. I will support anyone who will bring forward the genuine SLFP policies,” she elaborated.

Meanwhile, when the media queried Sirisena about Kumaratunga’s statement, he said that Kumaratunga had violated the SLFP’s discipline three years ago, but that no disciplinary action was taken against her given that she is a former SLFP Chairperson and the daughter of the party founder, slain Prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike. 

However, he stated that what was discussed during a two-hour-long meeting between the SLFP members and MPs – who were elected under the SLPP who recently accepted Ministerial posts in the Government and Kumaratunga, during which she was requested by the said group to accept the SLFP leadership – was publicly revealed, and that disciplinary action was therefore taken against her. When questioned about Kumaratunga’s statement that the SLFP is preparing to be auctioned off to the SLPP, he said: “Those are just her apprehensions.”

The SLFP decided on Monday (21) to suspend the party membership of Kumaratunga and all SLFP members and SLPP-elected MPs who recently accepted Cabinet and State Ministerial positions contrary to the decision of the Central Committee of the SLFP. 

In addition to Kumaratunga, Ministers Nimal Siripala de Silva and Mahinda Amaraweera (who were SLFP Senior Vice Presidents), State Minister Lasantha Alagiyawanna (who was the SLFP Treasurer), and State Ministers Ranjith Siyambalapitiya and Chamara Sampath Dasanayake (who were SLFP Vice Presidents), and Jagath Pushpakumara (who was the SLFP Vice Secretary) had also been removed from their respective positions upon the suspension of their party membership.