Smaller parties in governing alliance meet at Weerawansha’s house

Industries Minister Wimal Weerawansha/Economynext

ECONOMYNEXT – The leaders of a number of smaller parties allied to the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) are meeting at Industries Minister Wimal Weerawansha’s residence today as tensions between the Minister and some members of the government continue to rise.

The organizers of today’s meet-up claim that 12 smaller parties allied to the SLPP that form the Sri Lanka Nidahas Podujana Sandhanaya (SLNPS) are at the meeting.

A senior member of one of parties at the meeting said that would be discussing a common strategy to adopt at a meeting the leader of the Alliance, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has promised them to discuss the current crisis.

Reporters at the scene said that State Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara, General Secretary of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, the largest of the coalition partners is also attending the meeting.

Going into the meeting Minister Udaya Gammanpila told reporters until the elections were held the party leaders used to meet every Tuesday to discuss the political situation.

“However after we came to power these meetings have not been held, so we decided to meet and discuss the situation in the country,” Gammanpila said according to video carried on leaders have been meeting regularly “but it has not happened for some time.”

The discussion has been prompted by attacks on Weerawansha by some members of the ruling SLPP, Gammanpila said adding that the Industries Minister had played a major part in bringing the alliance to power.

Reporters asked State Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara whether he and the smaller parties contemplate leaving the alliance and the veteran Leftist said: “that will happen when the sun rises from the West.”

Weerawansha has been under attack by top leaders of the ruling party ever since he led strong protests against the government going ahead with a previously signed tripartite agreement with India and Japan to strike a deal with investors from those two countries to develop and run the East Container Terminal of the Colombo Port.

Weerawansha and the smaller parties backed Trade Unions and far-Left groups that bitterly opposed the deal.

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Both India and Japan, both close development partners of Sri Lanka expressed deep disappointment over the decision with India pointed saying the government had promised that the deal will go through “at the leadership level,” implying that either President Gotabaya Rajapaksa or Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa had agreed.

Subsequently, the government offered India the West Container Terminal but that was not agreed to. The East Container Terminal I mostly developed and needs moderate investment to operate at full capacity while the West Terminal needs to be built from the ground up.

Earlier this week Weerawansha was attacked at the Parliamentary Group meeting of the ruling alliance by several government-party Members and those who rose to defend him were shouted down, multiple sources told EconomyNext.

The latest source of tension has been two interviews Weerawansha gave Sinhala language Sunday Newspapers where he called for a greater role in party affairs for President Gotabaya.

This was interpreted by some SLPP as an attempt to oust Prime Minister Mahinda from the Party Leader’s position. Weerawansha denied that but also refused to apologise for the statement he had made to media. (Colombo, February 11, 2021)

Reported by Arjuna Ranawana

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