ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) architect Basil Rajapaksa is the most qualified to run for president in the event President Gotabaya Rajapaksa doesn’t seek re-election in four years’ time, SLPP MP Sahan Pradeep said.
Speaking to reporters yesterday, the MP said Basil Rajapaksa will be the ideal candidate with the vision and intelligence to bring all parties together and develop the country.
“As the SLPP, we are quite clear that Basil Rajapaksa is qualified to contest. Some camps that are not keen on the idea are now engaged in a mudslinging campaign. They cannot bring Basil Rajapaksa down; nor can they bring the SLPP down,” said Pradeep.
The MP made this remark in response to a question about speculation that President Rajapaksa may not contest the next presidential polls. Reporters also questioned Pradeep about the alleged rift between the SLPP and Industries Minister Wimal Weerawansa.
“Minister Weerawansa says there are political rogues, but there are no rogues in the SLPP. However, there may be such rogues in a party that is aligned with the SLPP. That’s a question that only he can answer,” said Pradeep.
Tensions between Minister Weerawansa and sections of the SLPP have been high since early February when he refused to retract a remark he had made to a Sinhala-langue weekly on February 7 that President Rajapaksa must lead the SLPP. His comment drew the ire of SLPP General Secretary MP Sagara Kariyawasam who demanded an apology and a retraction from his colleague. Previously, on February 2,the SLPP secretary criticised Weerawansa for going public with his party’s opposition to the now-scrapped East Container Terminal deal. His actions, Kariyawasam said, were detrimental to the unity within the ruling coalition.
At the SLPP press conference yesterday, MP PRadeep said though anyone can scream themselves hoarse about the achievements of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and his war victory, it was the former president together with then Defence Ministry Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa that put in the work – and continue to put in the work.
“President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has four more years left, at the end of which we believe the people will once again agitate to make him the leader of the country, the same way they did last time. The dreams of those who are trying to destroy the SLPP by making remarks about the president’s re-election will not come true,” he said. (Colombo/Mar12/2021)