ECONOMYNEXT – The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) is not satisfied with the outcome of a meeting with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa held on Monday (26), a party office bearer said.
SLFP vice president Prof Rohana Lakshman Piyadasa told EconomyNext Tuesday (27) afternoon that the meeting wasn’t very successful.
“Nothing very productive happened [other than] the president agreeing to give funds to SLFP organisers and local councillors in development projects,” he said.
The SLFP, a partner in the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP)-led coalition, has been increasingly disgruntled with what various party spokesmen have claimed is poor treatment of its membership.
According to Piyadasa, pressure from the SLFP rank and file is going to continue. Grassroots level members have complained of being sidelined from government development projects at the local level in an attempt to keep the SLFP out of governance.
SLFP general secretary Minister Dayasiri Jayaskeara has been particularly vocal with his criticism of the government.
On his way out of Monday’s meeting, Jayasekara told reporters that the issue of local councillors being sidelined was taken up with the president.
“We also discussed drafting a new constitution, education reforms, problems faced by SLFP trade unions and the fertiliser issue. All we have to do is to formulate a plan,” he said.
Sri Lanka’s ongoing ban on the import of chemical fertiliser has led to a wave of small-scale protests by farmers and opposition parties islandwide.
SLPP general secretary MP Sagara Kariyawsam has called the protests – along with protests and a trade union campaign organised by school teachers over salary anomalies – a conspiracy hatched by the same forces that had allegedly attempted to sabotage the government’s war effort in 2009.
“We explained to the president the SLFP’s wish to be included in governance and he absorbed it well,” said Jayasekara.
Any positions afforded to the SLFP in a future cabinet reshuffle were not discussed, he said.
Jayasekara, who is State Minister of Batik, Handloom and Local Apparel Products, has previously expressed his dissatisfaction with the portfolio assigned to him.
“We did not talk about positions because it was more important to us that the party is further strengthened, the party that worked to establish this government,” he said. (Colombo/Jul27/2021)