Nagananda, Rohan team up, form new ‘worker bee’ alliance

“Alternative” presidential hopefuls Nagananda Kodituwakku and Rohan Pallewatta joined hands yesterday, vowing to defeat the mainstream political parties that have ruled the country since Independence at the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections.

Their decision to work together was revealed at the official launch of a new political alliance titled the Abiman Lanka Peramuna (ALP) held in Colombo yesterday.

With a worker bee as its logo, the alliance consists of some 11 smaller parties including the Vinivida Foundation, the National People’s Movement (NPM), the Social Democratic Party of Sri Lanka (SDPSL), the Democratic Socialist Alliance, the Alternative Political National Alliance (APNA) and the Northern and Eastern wings of the Kilakka Thamil Onriyam.

The identity of the ALP’s presidential candidate, however, was not revealed at the event, as discussions are still ongoing as to who among its membership is best suited for the job.

Dinesh Kirthinanda of APNA, who was instrumental in the formation of the alliance, said the candidate will be revealed before 10 September, along with 20 names proposed for various cabinet and ministry secretarial positions.

“Our goal is to establish a new system of governance, as opposed to a mere change in government, by introducing a new constitution that transfers power to the people,” Kirthinanda said, speaking at the event.

The ALP’s new political order promises, among other things, a corruption-free political culture, a non-aligned foreign policy, a new electoral system and, most notably, the power of recall, which would allow an electorate to remove its elected officials through a direct vote. 

With a heavy emphasis on intellectualism, the alliance hopes to appoint educated individuals to positions of power in a future ALP government.

“We need to get educated people in Parliament. The challenge is to explain this to the masses and obtain their consent,” Dr. Sarath Bandaranayake of the Peradeniya University’s Physics Department said.

Emeritus Prof. Siri Hettige, who also spoke at the event, said a new political order is needed that promotes logical thinking in place of appealing to emotion, as has been the standard practice among the country’s ruling class for decades.

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Many of the speakers expressed confidence that despite heavy odds, the ALP will be able to muster enough votes to secure victory at the presidential polls.

SDPSL President Prof. Krishan Deheregoda said voters are now firmly divided into two camps, with the 225 parliamentarians on one side and everyone else on the other. Highlighting the significance of the venue chosen for the launch event, the CIDA Auditorium on Wijerama Mawatha, Dian Abeywardene of the Swayang Varama organisation said it contained exactly 225 seats all of which were occupied, and that the powers that be are growing increasingly fearful of being replaced by the alternative force spearheaded by Kodituwakku, Pallewatta and company.

“We were supposed to wind up today’s proceedings by 5 o’clock. It’s now 5.45. You have been patient for 45 minutes. Those 45 minutes are nothing compared to the 71 years we have waited as a nation,” he said, to loud applause.

Referring to the alliance’s worker bee symbol, Abeywardene said “the mighty elephant is afraid of the tiny bee.”

Dr. Bandarayanake, meanwhile, urged ALP organisers to reach out to long-time supporters disillusioned with the mainstream parties including the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) whose leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake has entered the fray as an alternative candidate himself, having – according to a number of ALP speakers – abandoned the Marxist-Lenninist party’s socialist ideals.

The audience was presented with what appeared to be a summarised policy document of the alliance, articulating its position on economic, social, political, cultural and environmental concerns.

The policies proposed are as follows:

Economy

It is envisaged for both domestic and foreign capital to be diverted into production-oriented ventures outside the major urban centres to reduce regional disparities along with the development of both social and physical infrastructure including quality health, education and transportation facilities.

Social system

A range of social policies will be introduced on a priority basis to address the issues involved and create a sense of social justice and equity among the socially marginalised people in the country, while totally disassociating from the existing inefficient and highly politicised social welfare system.

Culture

The post-Independence cultural policies practiced in this country to-date will be changed enabling formation of an overarching mainstream national culture suited to a modern, secular democratic society.

Political structure

A new politico-administrative structure will be introduced to do away with the current inefficient and divisive structures and establish a pro-people management system to ensure distribution of development benefits on an equal basis.

Environmental resources

Pro-people and pro-environment policies will be implemented to ensure development while conserving Sri Lanka’s ecological resources and biodiversity to support the needs of the existing population and maintain sustainable levels, without compromising the ability of future generations to have free access and use of its natural resources.

Watch this space for an interview with Nagananda Koditwakku, coming soon.

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