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Opposition's General Strike a failure:

Maithree at work, while Ranil at street protest

All Opposition political parties, sans the TNA, had successive rounds of meetings under closed doors for the past several weeks for one common goal. Though these parties would never come under one umbrella to contest future elections, they appeared to be united in showing the Government its strength as the common Opposition.

Though the idea of a common Opposition is only a fantasy as the UNP, JVP and the other minor parties including that of Sarath Fonseka’s, would never be united to contest under one banner, they thought they could at least show some strength if they make a collective trade union action.

Even the JVP leaders threw aside their political differences in going to Siri Kotha to have discussions with the leaders of the UNP on the strike they had planned. The other minor parties in the


K D Lalkantha


Ranil and Maithree

Opposition which find it hard to show a membership even to fill a three-wheeler, thought that it was the best chance for them to be among a massive gathering promised to be brought by the UNP and the JVP. Hence, bankrupt politicians such as Fonseka geared for the ‘big occasion’. Fonseka had a special reason to do so as he had failed to attract even a handful of people to his political rallies after his 2010 presidential election defeat.

The sudden waking up from the political fantasy created by Mangala Samaraweera was too hard for Fonseka to bear. Though known to be a thick-skinned person, Fonseka found it extremely hard to believe that the people who had been present in their numbers at his political rallies had not voted for him. Being an immature politician with only 40 days experience by then, Fonseka thought that all the people present at political rallies to be prospective voters.

Fonseka made another strategic move to mislead the JVP and UNP. Hence the joint Opposition took the new electricity tariff hike as their main slogan at the one-day general strike last Tuesday, they made cardboard torches as a sign. But the UNP and the JVP realised little that they were carrying the political symbol of Fonseka’s party, which incidentally is the torch.

That gave Fonseka some confidence, perhaps assuming that the entire crowd was his supporters, though it was a nightmare for the JVP and the UNP, which never thought that the general strike called by them would turn out to be such a flop.

Tuesday’s countrywide general strike ultimately turned out to be one of the most unsuccessful ever as the working class rejected it.

The UNP and the JVP bragged that they would inflict a crucial blow on the Government with the general strike but finally it became by far the most unsuccessful trade union action ever in the country’s history.

The UNP got down its faithful media institutions give wide pre publicity for the event. That prompted even moderate people to assume that the joint Opposition could pose some threat to the Government by using an attractive slogan such as the new electricity tariff.


Mangala Samaraweera


Anura Priyadarshana Yapa

The UNP and the JVP leaders flexed their muscle to mislead the masses, stating that they could shake the Government with a massive protest. Though the UNP and JVP leaders took to streets with their limited memberships, their wives reported to their workplaces.

The wife of the Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe - Prof. Maithree Wickremesinghe ignored the call by her better half and was at the University of Kelaniya, where she is employed as a senior lecturer and professor in English.

But Ranil had later claimed that his wife had gone to the university to meet one of her students only and had refrained from conducting lecturers.

It was also reported that the JVP trade union win leader K.D. Lalkantha’s wife, who is a teacher, had also reported for duty at her school in Anuradhapura.

When the following day’s newspapers highlighted that Ranil’s wife had ingnored her husband’s call for a general strike, she had later told a private radio station that she only attended the university but did not conduct lectures. Had Prof Maithree done so, it is also a breach of code of conduct for the government servants – keeping away from work (lecturing) after reporting for duty.

Dr. Maithree arrived at the university in her motor car around 9.30 a.m on Tuesday, the usual commencement time and began lectures at the English Department of the Social Science and Humanities Faculty.

Apart from university duties, she holds a director post at the Centre for Gender Studies. It is reported that, she also attended to her duties at the Centre after her university work despite the ongoing strike organised by her husband, political parties and Trade Union groups.

The most significant fact is that she had attended to all her duties when members of the Federation of University Lecturers Association (FUTA) had announced that they would support the strike and would not be working. But Prof. Maithree Wickremesinghe had ignored all their calls and attended to her duties as usual.


Champika Ranawaka

Her husband and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe had urged the public all through the week to refrain from going to work and to take to street to be part of their strike. Her decision means she had defied her husband’s request and attended to her official duties as usual as if there was no such call to strike made by her husband.

The working class were intelligent enough not to fall prey to the Opposition’s trap as they were cognizant of the massive relief on electricity tariff for low income groups, announced by President Mahinda Rajapaksa on May Day. The Opposition general strike turned out to be a total disaster as more than 98 percent of the workers reported for work at all government institutions and most private sector establishments. The figure was well above the average attendance percentage.

All Government establishments functioned smoothly and to optimum capacity on Tuesday with essential services such as the Colombo National Hospital even exceeding the normal daily attendance figures. Both the SLCTB and private bus operators were in full strength, making a mockery of the Opposition’s general strike.

Lalkantha cut a pathetic figure and reports said that he had been several reprimanded by the JVP politburo for failing to attract the full strength. An inside JVP report had disclosed that a considerable percentage of even its normal membership had not followed the party’s instructions to keep away from work.

Poor Lalkantha has now been made a scapegoat for the unsuccessful trade union action.

Unconfirmed reports said the JVP is now conducting an internal investigation to find out whether Lankantha’s public statement of the JVP’s terror acts in 1988/89 had contributed towards the poor response for the party’s call.

Lalkantha recently made public the JVP’s notorious track record during the height of its 1988/89 terror.

Lalkantha behaved like a common thug by openly admitting that the JVP had killed scores of people and indulged in various other crimes during 1988/89 period, the party’s second attempt to capture power through the bullet.

Differences deepen within TNA ranks

The differences within the TNA ranks have deepened despite various efforts to retain all five constituent parties under one umbrella and obtain registration as a political party.

With the Government announcing last week that the elections to the Northern Provincial Council will be held in September as scheduled, the TNA is now in wilderness without knowing what action they should take with various constituent parties expressing different views.

Despite TELO’s efforts on bringing about a peaceful settlement with the other three partners and R. Sampanthan-led ITAK, solutions have not been found for their woes and worries.

The latest issue among the former Tiger-proxy party is on the formation of the TNA High Command. The ITAK wanted to have the High Command of the TNA in place even before entering the Memorandum of Understanding with the other four constituent members of the TNA. The ITAK has suggested that the TNA High Command should consist of 25 representatives, out of which 10 for the ITAK and one representative for parliamentarian Appathurai Vinayagamoorthy of All Ceylon Tamil Congress.

It was suggested that the balance 14 representatives will go to EPRLF (5), TELO (5), TULF (2) and PLOTE (2). However, EPRLF, PLOTE and the TULF are not happy with the proposals and have indicated strongly that all the constituent parties must have equal representations. But the ITAK is not ready to have equal representation in the TNA High Command to other parties so that Sampaandan would lose the grip.

M.K. Shivajilingham, spokesperson for TELO has said that the TELO representatives would be meeting the ITAK leadership this weekend to finalise the proposed MOU among the five constituent parties of the TNA.

TELO representatives have met separately with EPRLF, TULF and PLOTE leaderships and have explained the importance of entering into a MOU. Shivajilingham had expressed optimism that the MOU could be signed before the end of this month.

JHU calls for abrogation of 13th Amendment

Technology Research and Atomic Energy Minister and Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) Leader Patali Champika Ranawaka called on the government to initiate a comprehensive program to wipe out the idea of Eelam from Sri Lanka’s social, economic, intellectual and cultural life.

Minister Ranawaka said creating a Tamil Eelam, a separate state in the North and East had been the dream of slain terrorist leader.

The violent secessionist military campaign started by them to create a separate Tamil state in the North and East had been defeated by the government, he said.

“The time has come to initiate comprehensive de-Eelamification programme in the country,” he pointed out.

Ranawaka was speaking at a press conference at the Mahaweli Centre in Colombo. The Minister announced his plans to submit an individual member motion in Parliament to abrogate the 13th Amendment and the Provincial Council system. JHU Legal advisor and Western Provincial Council Minister Udaya Gammanpila said the 13th Amendment should be abrogated because it is in violation of the Constitution and it stands to pose a threat against the country’s sovereignty and the unitary character of the state.

JHU Leader Ranawaka said members of the Tamil National Alliance have been refusing to participate in the the proposed Parliamentary Select Committee by the President to find a political solution to the Tamil problem because they still espouse the notion of Tamil Eelam. “It is essential to remove this notion from the country as a counter terrorism measure by implementing law if necessary.” he said. “After the liberation of Germany in 1945, the Allied Powers initiated a denazification program whereby they prohibited NSDAP-party and its subdivisions. They also dismissed NSDAP party members from executive positions in industry and office. Nazi laws were abolished and symbols removed from use,” he said.

“In the case of Libya, after Libya has been liberated from Muammar Gaddafi’s 42-year rule of government, the Libyan Parliament voted to ban ex-Gadaffi officials from holding any position in government or even in a political party. This is to ensure national interest and security,” explained Ranawaka. He said Visuavanathan Rudrakumaran, a former advisor to LTTE international Secretariat, who is also known as the driving force behind an organization called, Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE)has reportedly become a Prime Minister of that government.

“There are senior officials of Western nations that have become receptive to Rudrakumaran’s action. A process of de-Eelamification helps ban such activities and their influence on Tamil public in Sri Lanka,” he said.

Udayan trying to divide all communities

Controversial Udayan newspaper published in the North made yet another attempt to fan the flames of communalism when it published a story quoting a speech by TNA parliamentarian Selvam Addaikalandana at a public gathering in Jaffna that the government is to settle 1,500 Sinhala families in Musal in the North.

The manner in which the story was presented betrayed the racist intent and Udayan’s clear intention to arouse racist feelings of the Tamils in the North.

Northern Governor Major General G. M. Chandrasiri said that the government’s policy was to resettle all those who were driven away from Jaffna at 24 hours’ notice.

He said the Udayan Newspaper had forgotten that 25 years ago, the LTTE under their ethnic cleansing policy chased all Muslims and Sinhalese from Jaffna in a matter of 24 hours.

“It is very sad to note that the writer and the Editor have forgotten history and carry news items that would create divisions between communities,” he added.

Major General Chandrasiri further said it was well known to all the Tamil organizations and Media that the government gave priority to the Tamils in the resettlement programme after the war. But they all should remember that it is the government’s duty to resettle all communities in their original places as all the regions are now free of terror, he said.

“Since peace has dawned in every nook and corner of the country we should give the opportunity to all those who lost their lands during the war. All communities irrespective of their ethnicity would be given their original lands, he said.

“I insist that not even a single Sinhala family have been resettled from outside. Those resettled are only those who were driven away during the war, from their lands, he said. This is not a government decision, since the development in the Northern region has been given priority after the war, all people who left the region wanted to go to their original lands. We, the government would only facilitate their resettlement, he said.

“ What the Udayan is trying is to divide all communities’, he said.

Northern polls on schedule

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has reiterated that any amendments to the Constitution would be made through a decision of the Parliamentary Select Committee and by no other process.

The government has not taken any decision to amend the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, Petroleum Industries Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa said last week.

Presiding at the weekly Cabinet press briefing at the Government Information Department Auditorium on Thursday, Minister Yapa said the elections to the Northern Provincial Council would be held in September as decided by the government earlier, and this would not change.

“The North is a part of our country. The Northern Provincial Council is a similar administrative unit to the Provincials Councils operational in the country elsewhere right now,” the minister said. He said in an election one party would win, and automatically, the rest become the parties that comprise the Opposition.

“We are not concerned who would win the election. We are keen to hold elections under the provisions of the Constitution,” the minister said.

“We are aware that the Tamil National Alliance is not in favour of the proposed amendment to the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

We assure that whatever change is decided by the Select Committee will be adhered to by the government.”

Minister Yapa recalled that the Provincial Council system was introduced to the country as a result of the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord signed by the UNP regime.“Right from the inception, there were a number political of parties which opposed the introduction of the Provincial Council system to the country.” He said certain provision included in the Provincial Council system did not suit a small country such as Sri Lanka.

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