ECONOMYNEXT – Chandrika Kumaratunga says she “doesn’t know whether to laugh or to cry” when she sees what has happened to her beloved Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).
“It is the party that I grew up with, it is the party that fed me and its supporters brought me to power for eleven years,” the former President said in her first official public reaction to the massive victory that the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna won in this month’s Parliamentary General Election.
“I have been looking for the SLFP all over the place, but I can’t find it anywhere,” she said with wry humour.
She blamed former President Maithripala Sirisena for “destroying the party, a process that was begun by Mahinda Rajapaksa. Mahinda began the rot and did it subtly but Sirisena finished it off in the most base and dirty way,” she said.
Finally, Sirisena was hoping for a plum Ministry but went away empty-handed, she said.
And the Ministries that the rest of the SLFP MPs have been given are a joke, she said.
“There are no institutions under them, so how can they do any work?” she asked.
“How can they help their supporters? If they can’t help them, then the party is finished.”
The General Secretary of the SLFP has been given a State Ministry of Batik and Handlooms.
But she appeared optimistic that 16 SLFP members had won seats. “We got much fewer nominations, but almost everyone who contested won,” she claimed.
“They had a hard time, as the SLPP members campaigned against them,” she said. “Mostly it was the members who had left the SLFP and joined the SLPP,” she said.
Kumaratunga also bemoaned the fact that the United National Party (UNP) had also lost badly.
“Today the UNP has broken up and its pieces are lying everywhere,” she said.
“It is sad that the UNP and the SLFP the two oldest and strongest parties in the country that safeguarded democracy in this country for so long have met this fate,” she said.
The Opposition is extremely weak as they have no strong leader, she said.
“It has been proved that a party with a strong leader can win elections. I don’t agree with Mahinda Rajapaksa’s policies or his way of doing things, but he is a strong leader.”
She says today’s politics has reduced the relationship the citizen has with their leaders to one that everybody has to kneel down before those in power to beg for what is rightfully theirs.
“After they have skinned their knees and can’t kneel down anymore they will get nothing.”
Despite her criticism, Kumaratunga ruled out an active role in politics for her in the future.
“The last time they dragged me back to build a coalition to make a change. But the two people that were put in charge to ensure that change took place destroyed that completely.”
“I will not do that ever again.” (Colombo, August 15, 2020)
Reported by Arjuna Ranawana