One Shot, John shield Ranil from Thevarapperuma's attack
If there has been an award for the political party with most number
of internal problems, the United National Party will undoubtedly become
the disgraceful recipient of it. The country's main Opposition
aggravated its problems as the nominations for the Western and Southern
Provincial Councils closed last Thursday.
Though slight differences are common in any party when it comes to
nominations for elections, the UNP seniors extended it almost to a
physical confrontation. Even its leader Ranil Wickremesinghe had a close
call at his parliamentary group meeting as UNP rebels made it an
opportunity settle scores with the leader.
Following a heated argument between Opposition and UNP leader Ranil
Wickremesinghe and UNP Kalutara District MP Palitha Thevarapperuma, the
stage was set for an ugly physical confrontation which was prevented at
the last minute by Ranil's confidants and security men.
Ranil retorted strongly when Thevarapurma faulted him for including a
certain candidate in the party's Kalutara District nominations list for
the Western Provincial council elections. Eye witness reports said that
Theverapperuma had moved towards Ranil in a threatening manner no sooner
the UNP parliamentary group meeting was over at a Committee Room in the
Parliamentary complex at Sri Jayewardenepura, Kotte on Wednesday.
But it was the celluloid hero One Shot who played a similar role in
real life to protect his leader. Theverapperuma had been prevented from
approaching Ranil by actor turned parliamentarian Ranjan Ramanayake and
the Chief Opposition Whip John Amaratunga. Ranil's security officers too
rushed to the scene to avoid a possible physical attack. Later, John had
said that Theverapperuma was under the influence of liquor. Some reports
said that the UNP MP had behaved in an unruly manner as his son's name
was not included in the list. However, Kalutara District UNP MP had said
that Theverapperuma's son's name was originally included in the UNP list
but he had not come to sing the nomination papers. Hence, the party had
put a replacement at the eleventh hour.
However, Thevarapperuma rejected all those allegations and said he
was only acting for the good of the party. Thevarapperuma said he did
not lay even a finger on the UNP leader because he walked away when
asked about the inclusion of two particular candidates in the Kalutara
He said Ranil moved away and avoided answering his question at the
meeting. Thevarapperuma said the party had fielded an ex-employee of
Foreign Employment Bureau who was charged with various frauds and
another who was lending money to poor people at exorbitant interest
"I was keen to tell Mr. Wickremesinghe that the party won't succeed
if it fielded candidates of such a calibre but he ignored me and avoided
my question," he was quoted as saying.
He added that the police officers in charge of the parliamentary
complex would not have let him inside if he had been under the influence
"Why didn't those who accuse me of being drunk fail to make a
complaint against me to the Speaker? If I had been drunk, the leader
should have lodged a complaint and they would have ejected me,"
Asked about speculation that he was going to crossover to the
government or join the Democratic Party led by Sarath Fonseka,
Thevarapperuma said this was a story spread by UNP members who wanted
him to leave the party.
"I will not go behind any one and will continue to remain in the UNP
until it gain power under a dynamic leader in future," he added
However, Several UNP seniors charged that Thevarapperuma had
confronted the Opposition Leader in an aggressive manner, pulling Ranil
from his jacket.
UNP suspends rebel MP
Days after the incident, the UNP suspended the paty membership of
Thevarapperuma. Sirikotha sources said that Ranjan Ramanayake, who
prevented Thevarapperuma from attacking the party leader, had complained
over the behaviour of the Kalutara District MP to the party's leadership
However, Thevarapperuma has that he is yet to be informed of the
party's decision to suspend his membership. The rebel said that no one
from the party informed him that his membership has been suspended.
However, UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake said the party
membership of Thevarapperuma has been suspended pending a full inquiry
into allegations levelled against him. Attanayake added that the letter
suspending Thevarapperuma's UNP membership was sent on Friday.
"The party was my first priority and I even disregarded the duties to
my family because of party matters. Today I don't even have a house to
live in. All this happened because the UNP was the most important thing
in my life," Thevarapperuma said.
He said he has already been sidelined from the party's affairs in the
Kalutara district and the new decision will not make a huge difference.
Referring to Chief Opposition Whip John Amaratunga's remark that he
was drunk at the time of the incident, Thevarapperuma asked whether
Amaratunga was the only person in the group meeting who had a nose!
Though the Thevarapperuma's high drama caught media attention, it was
parliamentarian Sujeewa Senasinghe who fired first at the UNP
parliamentary group meeting. Senasinghe had expressed his
dissatisfaction over the party's preferential treatment to favourites,
ignoring his contribution to the party from the Provincial Council
Speaking at the UNP parliamentary group meeting presided over by
Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe last week, Senasinghe alleged
that the party has not entrusted any responsibility to him, despite his
seven-year experience as a member of the Western Provincial Council
before he was elected to the Parliament. Senasinghe said he is the only
UNP parliamentarian who has not been given the full responsibility of
being party organiser of an electorate. The electorate he has been given
is shared with another person.
Senasinghe has told Ranil that the party has given preferential
treatment to Ruwan Wijewardene who is a close relative of the UNP
leader. He said Ruwan and him entered Parliament together at the last
general election but he is seven years senior than Ruwan as he had
served in the Provincial Council.
"Both of us are of the same age and entered the Parliament together.
Though he doesn't have qualifications, he has been given all the posts
possible - leader of the UNP youth wing, working committee and
leadership council membership. But I have not been included even in the
UNP's Working Committee," said Senasinghe in a hard-hitting speech.
He expressed dissatisfaction over the manner in which the party has
treated him, ignoring his commitment and dedication to the party.
"When I contested the Provincial Council elections and won, nobody
helped, not even the leader. I am much senior than Ruwan but I don't
have any position in the party," he said.
Senasinghe alleged that UNP nominations have been given to people in
his electorate without his knowledge. "Are you trying to chase even the
few MPs left?" he questioned from the UNP leader.
UNP to lose Colombo Mayor?
UNP's decision not to give nominations to Feroza Muzammil, wife of
the Mayor of Colombo A.J.M. Muzammil, will add more problems to the main
Unconfirmed reports said that a dejected Colombo Mayor may switch
allegiance in the near future.
Reports said that the Mayor of Colombo was dejected after UNP
nomination board's decision to reject his wife Feroza Muzammil to
contest from Colombo District on the UNP ticket. In less than 24 hours
after her rejection, Feroza Muzammil resigned from the National
Executive Committee of the UNP.
The Colombo's Mayor has extended his fullest support to the city
development drive initiated by the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence
and Urban Development Gotabaya Rajapaksa. As a result, the mayor's
opponents have conspired against Muzzamil.
Ravi resigns from nomination board
The UNP experienced another resignation in disgust last week when
Colombo District MP and party stalwart Ravi Kaunanayake resigned from
the party's nominations board over serious differences.
Ravi had resigned due to some unilateral decisions taken by the party
leadership and also bringing irrelevant candidates from outside Colombo
to contest the provincial council election.
In the wake of the conflict paired with the lack of support by other
party members, Ravi tendered his resignation to quit the Nominations
Despite his decision to resign from the nomination board of the
party, Ravi had said that he will actively take part in the party's
election campaign for the Colombo district.
He said certain decisions made by the nomination board will make a
negative impact on the final result of the Colombo District. "We have
lost the chance to field a 'fantastic team' for Colombo. Now we only
have a 'team'. We also added that some unwanted elements are now on the
UNP list and the party's nomination board has to deal with the
ramifications of its decisions," he said.
Ravi said he had a discussion with the UNP leader after sending the
letter of resignation. But the Kotte UNP heavyweight said that he does
not like to disclose on matters that were discussed with the party
Ravi stressed that he has not fallen out with the party leadership
and would continue to support Ranil.
Maithi, Shiral to resume struggle
Many UNP supporters thought that the party leadership would forget
the differences and unite at the forthcoming Provincial Council
elections by giving nominations to former council members Maithri
Gunaratne and Shiral Laktillake.
But Ranil was adamant that they should not be given a chance to
contest on the UNP ticket. As a result, Maithri and Shiral will not be
able to retain their seats in the Southern and Western Provincial
However, Maithri said he and Shiral Laktilleke would resume the
struggle from Kandy to remove UNP leader and abolish the controversial
leadership council in April after the UNP's anticipated defeat at the
forthcoming Provincial Council elections. He said they would elect
Sajith Premadasa as the party leader as the first step of UNP to power.
"Our party memberships, posts of organiser and councillorships were
taken away and now we have been deprived of our nominations as well.
But we will not stop our struggle and will protect the UNP and its
members even at the cost of our lives. Ranil has shown that he is the
one who takes the decisions and not the leadership council. The
leadership council has become a joke," he said.
Maithri predicted that the UNP would not get at least 30% of votes at
the upcoming Provincial Council Elections.
"We will organise another protest march in April from Kandy urging
the UNP leadership and the leadership council to step down," he said.
Former Western Provincial Councillor Shiral Lakthilaka said that even
though they were not given nominations they would remain in the UNP
without forming another party and would continue their struggle to
change the party leadership.
"The UNP leadership council chairman Karu Jayasuriya was unable to do
anything regarding the finalising of the nominations. That alone proves
that the leadership council does not have any power. If someone tries to
expel us from the party, it would be a complete failure," he said.
President pays homage
At the auspicious time the new Dolos Mahe Pahana and Gantara Kuluna
(belfry) installed at the Sri Pada Maluwa were commissioned amidst the
chanting of Seth Pirith by the Maha Sangha on Friday, President Mahinda
Rajapaksa participated paying homage by sprinkling jasmines from aboard
a helicopter hovering over the site.
The Maha Sangha led by the Most Ven. Udugama Sri Buddharakkhita
Mahanayake Thera of the Asgiriya Chapter who arrived at the Sri Pada
Maluwa ceremonially commissioned the Dolos Mahe Pahana and Gantara
Kuluna by chanting Seth Pirith in the presence of Defence and Urban
Development Ministry Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
Proprietor Kandy City Center Thusitha Wijesena sponsored the Pinkama
on the guidance and instruction of Sri Pada Istanadhipati Ven. Bengamuwe
Sri Dhammadinna Nayaka Thera.
The 8,613kg Dolos Mahe Pahana and 9,000kg Gantara Kuluna made of
stone were airlifted in parts to the Sri Pada Summit by an Air Force
helicopter for the first time in an exercise which took nearly a week to
Sabaragamuwa Chief Minister Maheepala Herath, Army Commander Lt. Gen.
Daya Ratnayake, Government Agent for Nuwara Eliya D.P.G. Kumarasiri and
Government Agent for Kandy Gamini Seneviratne were also present on the
Hirunika launches campaign
Hirunika Premachandra, who is contesting next month's elections to
the Western Provincial Council under the UPFA ticket, is a symbol of
modern thinking, SLFP General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena said last
The minister while making these remarks at the launch of her
political campaign said the SLFP had taken a bold step by introducing a
new set of politicians with a vision in line with modern times. He said
it would be candidates like Hirunika who would triumph at next month's
The minister recalled her father's tragic death and said it posed
many problems for the UPFA and the SLFP.
Hirunika, who then addressed her supporters and well-wishers, said
she was expecting many obstacles and criticisms from her political
rivals during the election campaign.
"I am sure my late father will guide me from wherever he is now and
will be with me as I walk this difficult path," she said with her eyes
brimming with tears.
Indicating that her ambitions went beyond the provincial council,
Hirunika said she would continue to remain Lucky Aiya's daughter no
matter what position she held in politics. She urged her supports to
stick with her throughout her political career.
Sri Lanka banks on China
Some of the powerful nations such as China and Russia have pledged
support for Sri Lanka against international conspires as the US-lead
Resolution against Sri Lanka is to brought up at the UNHRC in Geneva
With the US indicating that it would move a resolution on Sri Lanka
over alleged human rights abuses during the last stages of the war, Sri
Lanka will bank on Chinese support to neutralize the resolution.
External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris will make a four-day visit to
China from tomorrow as a special envoy of President Rajapaksa to garner
the much needed Chinese support.
During the three-day visit on the invitation of Chinese Foreign
Minister Wang Yee, the minister will meet Chinese Deputy President Li
Yuanchao, Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Li Baodong the Deputy Foreign
Minister in charge of UN and HR Affairs.
External Affairs Ministry sources said the US sponsored resolution
that is likely to be presented at the March UNHRC sessions will be a
main feature at the discussions and Sri Lanka would expect Chinese
support to face the resolution.
China became a member of the UNHRC once again from this year. At the
previous sessions when the US sponsored resolution on Sri Lanka was
submitted, China had actively campaigned among member states with
Chinese influence to defeat the motion.
Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Wu Jianghao said recently that China
will 'unswervingly' speak for Sri Lanka at the UNHRC sessions.
The Ambassador said China recognised the progress achieved by the Sri
Lankan Government and its people in economic and social development
after the 'internal conflict' ended. Reiterating that China and Sri
Lanka are true friends, he said a friend in need is a friend indeed. "We
believe that Sri Lanka should be given more time and space to solve its
problems by itself.
In the days to come, we will continue to unswervingly speak for Sri
Lanka at the UNHRC to uphold justice," he said.