Political parties clean their stables
With the conclusion of handing over nominations for the August 17
Parliamentary Election, several prominent politicians ended up
disappointed due to not being accommodated.
While it may not be a serious disappointment for those who made their
first ever appearance before a party nomination board, it is not so for
those who have held portfolios and senior positions in the party.
Several political parties have decided against some big names du e to
various reasons and attempt has been made to include young persons and
those without a chequered past, at least to an extent.
With the re-entry of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa who will
contest the election from the Kurunegala District representing the UPFA,
his brother, the onetime powerful Economic Development Minister Basil
Rajapaksa who nursed Gampaha as his electorate has opted out of the
Basil opts out
His US citizenship might have been the reason for his desire to not
run, as the 19th Amendment to the Constitution does place practical
restrictions on dual citizens. He obtained the highest number of
preferential votes in 2010 from the Gampaha District. If he chose
differently, altogether five members from the Rajapaksa family would
have entered the fray.
Two veterans in politics, former Prime Ministers Ratnasiri
Wickremanayake and D.M. Jayaratne are on the UPFA national list.
Aged 82, Ratnasiri Wickremanayake, twice held the Prime Minister's
post, firstly from August 2000 to December 2001 during Chandrika
Bandaranaike Kumaratunga's presidency and later, from 2005 to 2010, when
Mahinda Rajapaksa was the President. However, his son, former MP Vidura
Wickremanayake will contest from the Kalutara District.
Aged 84, D.M. Jayaratne the seniormost member in the SLFP at present,
rose to the premiership of the country after starting his politics as a
village councillor in the Kandy District. He was appointed Prime
Minister in 2010 after Mahinda Rajapaksa was elected the President for
his second term and continued as Prime Minister till the dissolution of
parliament. He first entered parliament in 1970 contesting the election
from the Gampola electorate in the Kandy District. His son, Anuradha
Jayaratne, is now in active politics as a Member of the Central
Provincial Council and will be contesting from Kandy on the UPFA ticket.
Kamala Ranatunga, a long time supporter of the SLFP and a trade
unionist, who made her way to parliament as a nominated member, has been
dropped this time. The name of veteran actress Malini Fonseka too is not
included. The most controversial names denied nominations from the UPFA
this time are former MPs Duminda Silva from the Colombo District, Mervin
Silva and Sarana Gunawardena from the Gampaha District and Sajin de Vas
Gunawardena from the Galle District. The allegations against them on
corruption, drug deals and criminality have rocked local politicis in
the recent years with public criticism against them on a permanent
If the exclusions gained the UPFA some respect, the inclusion of
Lakshmanthi Gunawardena, the wife of another politician under a cloud,
Sarana Gunawardena of Gampaha District has resulted in raised eyebrows.
Mervin Silva entered parliament for the first time in 1994 from the
Hambantota District, representing the UNP. He later crossed over to the
SLFP to contest the 2004 general election from the Colombo District.
Having failed to garner enough preferences, he entered the House after
his wife Mary Lucida, who entered the legislature on the national list,
resigned within a day, paving the way for him.
In 2010, he contested the election from the Gampaha District as the
SLFP organizer for Kelaniya. Though he attempted to align himself with
the President Maithripala Sirisena subsequently, he was not welcomed by
the alliance which supported President Sirisena at the presidential
Sajin de Vass Gunawardena who is now in remand prison over
allegations of corruption was denied nomination due to his embarrassing
record of corruption and abuse of State resources.
He first entered Parliament in 2010 from Galle on the UPFA ticket and
was later appointed as the Supervisory MP for the Foreign Ministry,
which made him the de-facto Foreign Minister in the Rajapaksa
Duminda Silva was also denied nomination, based on allegations of
drug trafficking. His entered politics from the UNP in 2004 when he was
elected to the Western Provincial Council. He later aligned with the
UPFA and entered parliament in 2010 on the UPFA ticket from Colombo.
His alleged engagement in the murder of Bharatha Lakshman
Premachandra and alleged connection to drug dealers contributed to
making his political life unstable.
Former militant Vinayagamoorthi Muralitharan alias Karuna Amman too
has also been dropped by the UPFA. After giving up arms, he became a
national list MP from UPFA in 2008. He led the political party Tamil
Makkal Vidutalai Pulikal (TMVP) but later joined the SLFP. He was
thereafter appointed a Minister in the Mahinda Rajapaksa Government.
Former Ports and Highways Projects Minister Nirmala Kothalawala has
decided not to continue with a political career. After entering politics
in the 1990s, he first entered parliament in 2004 contesting under UPFA
from the Kalutara District.
A famous person who distanced himself from mainstream politics this
time is one time Sri Lankan cricket captain, Sanath Jayasuriya, after a
short stint in the House.