Sirisena and dissident SLFPers trade fire in Parliament

By Saman Indrajith

SLFP seniors in government and opposition ranks exchanged tirades in Parliament on Tuesday, accusing each other of having created the current crisis.

Participating in the Second Reading debate on Sri Lanka Telecommunications (Amendment) Bill, former President Maithripala Sirisena said that Mahinda Amaraweera, who joined the government and received the Agriculture portfolio had recently told a newspaper that Sirisena would end up either in Welikada prison or Angoda Mental hospital.

“There should be a court order for someone to be sent to prison, and it seems that this minister has powers to manipulate the judicial process. I know that some people want me thrown behind bars. If I am sent to prison, people should understand that it’s his work. MP Dayasiri Jayasekera last week went to the SLFP headquarters to assume duties as the party General Secretary as per a court order. However, there were 300 to 400 policemen armed with batons, tear gas and water cannon preventing him from entering the party office. This, they did in violation of a court order and their action amounts to contempt of court. Crises in political parties are not new to this country, but making use of the ministerial powers to deploy police to interfere in internal party disputes is horrible, Sirisena said.

“On a previous occasion, we lodged a complaint with police against party headquarters being held by force by some rival group members. It was only after 23 days that the police came to investigate it. Today, the police visit the homes of SLFP organisers to intimidate them. Some organisers are summoned to the CID. Threats, intimidation and police are being used to coerce our party men into joining them. The party organisers have been given two choices – either join them or go to prison. People should know that those who left the SLFP to join the government are now trying to destroy the party,” Sirisena said.

Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said that he had never said that Sirisena would either end up in Angoda or Welikada. “It is our conduct and behaviour that determines whether we should go to Angoda or not. Those who deserve to go there must go. Those who weep for the SLFP today created this crisis. It is he who handed over the party leadership to a non-SLFPer. It was Sirisena who filed the case against Dayasiri Jayasekera that is before the courts. Who expelled Jayasekera from the party? We did nothing against court orders. Some persons tried to force themselves into the party headquarters, and the police prevented it. Today, we have Nimal Siripala de Silva as our party Chairman and Duminda Dissanayake as our General Secretary, and those were legal appointments, and the court has issued an order that they should not be prevented from carrying out their duties,” Amaraweeera said, adding that when Sirisena took over party leadership there had been 142 MPs but the latter’s conduct had reduced that number to two.

Sirisena said that Amaraweera and others had joined the government to get ministerial posts and that had triggered the SLFP’s crisis. “This group acted against party discipline and joined the government. That was the origin of this crisis. They are now trying to hitch the SLFP to the UNP’s wagon.

Transport State Minister Lasantha Alagiyawanna said that the downfall of the SLFP had been caused by Sirisena by betraying it in 2015. “This started in 2015. There at the party Executive Committee meeting Sirisena proposed Mahinda Rajapaksa’s name as the presidential candidate and ate hoppers with him and later betrayed us all. It was that betrayal which caused the SLFP’s downfall,” Alagiyawanna said.

Amaraweera said that he had information about massive frauds committed by those who had taken moral high ground and it would be made public one day.

Alagiyawanna said Sirisena had resigned from party chairmanship and should let those leading the party now to continue their work.

Sirisena accused both ministers of telling lies.

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