ECONOMYNEXT – Classists and ‘radalawaadin’ (backers of aristocracy) in different camps have teamed up to prevent Sri Lanka opposition leader Sajith Premadasa from becoming president, opposition MP Nalin Bandara said.
The main opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) MP told reporters on June 09 that the government may be hoping to use Prime Minister Ranil Wikcremesinghe to weaken the opposition.
“It was [government minister] Mahindananda Aluthgamuge who was bragging the most about Wickremesinghe entering parliament,” he said.
The former prime minister has been speculated to enter parliament through the one national list seat his party is entitled to after a spectacular defeat at the parliamentary polls in 2020.
The increasingly crisis-riddle government may be planning to appoint Wickremesinghe to its cabinet in an attempt to overcome their perilous state, said Bandara.
“Or perhaps they dream that after Wickremesinghe enters parliament, the opposition will split into two. When you see that you’re losing you’re grip on power, it is natural to grasp at straws,” he said.
“The government’s plan is to latch on even to Ranil if they have to, just to weaken the opposition and strengthen their own ranks,” he added.
Bandara said the SJB has no objection to the government’s taking Wickremesinghe into their fold.
“He is an experienced politician with his own personal diplomatic ties. We have no objection. But the opposition will not be weakened. Ranil is one. There are over 50 of us in the SJB,” he said.
The MP said the government is also using people like Wickremesinghe and model Piumi Hansamali who was recently involved in a quarantine scandal to distract the public from the real issues.
Without using the word ‘caste’, Bandara claimed that the opposition faced by Premadasa is nothing more than an issue of social status.
“We know that [former president and the SJB leader’s late father) President R Premadasa faced by many obstacles in his road to the presidency. He came from Kehelwatte; not from Colombo 07; not from an aristocratic family,” he said.
Bandara claimed there was a cabal of classists in Sri Lanka who cannot bear the thought of a Premadasa presidency.
“These people have teamed up, unconditionally, and made deals,” he said.
Commenting on a remark by Minister Aluthgamage that Wickremesinghe could potentially be made opposition leader with the support of 15 SJB parliamentarians who according to him will readily switch loyalties, Bandara said: “Yes, that is their dream. We have to wonder if Wickremesinghe is being controlled by the government.”
The SJB issued a statement on June 08 that the party’s parliamentary group has unanimously expressed their support for Premadasa’s leadership, amid speculation that all is not well with Sri Lanka’s main opposition party.
Bandara said the elitist cabal he alluded to have a “game plan”.
“We know they’ve all teamed up. They’re all on the same side. But we can guarantee that it’s not a plan that will succeed,” he said. (Colombo/June09/2021)