Prof. G. L. Peiris, Chairman of Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), said that a magnificent victory achieved by wartime Defence Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the 2019 presidential election remained incomplete until the parliamentary power was secured by the SLPP.
Prof. Peiris said so addressing a book launch organized by Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) leader and former lawmaker, Udaya Gammanpila at the Sri Sambuddha Jayanthi Mandiyara, Thunmulla on Thursday, March 12.
Pointing out that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa hadn’t been able to proceed as desired, Prof. Peiris said that parliamentary power was nothing but a prerequisite before a proper action plan could be implemented.
The former External Affairs Minister recalled how the UNP-led Opposition prevented the UPFA from receiving parliamentary endorsement for Vote-on-Account.
At the time of the dissolution of parliament on March 02, the UPFA had the support of 89 lawmakers.
At the onset of his speech, Prof. Peiris compared the circumstances leading to the formation of the SLFP in the 1950s and the SLPP six and half decades later. The SLFP and the SLPP came into being due to the failure on major political parties to represent the interest of various groups.
Among the audience were Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and former minister and architect of the SLPP.
Prof. Peiris examined the emergence of the SLFP and the SLPP at the expense of the UNP and the SLFP, respectively.
Prof. Peiris also said that just two days after the Mahinda Rajapaksa’s defeat at the January 08, 2015 presidential election, the then MP Udaya Gammanpila urged supporters not to lose heart. Prof. Peiris quoted Gammanpila as having appealed to them to retain their spirit and the future would be theirs.
Prof. Peiris underscored the importance of the events leading to the formation of the SLPP in late 2016 following the UPFA defeat at the last parliamentary election in August 2015.
Prof. Peiris recalled how Gammanpila on January 13, 2015 declared Mahinda Rajapaksa as their next prime ministerial candidate and Gamini Lokuge meeting the PHU leader on the following day to pledge his support to a campaign meant to bring Mahinda Rajapaksa back. The formation of the Joint Opposition took place in the wake of Udaya Gammanpila, Wimal Weerawansa and Vasudeva Nanayakkara meeting MEP leader Dinesh Gunawardena at the latter’s residence on January 17, 2015, Prof. Peiris said.
In the wake of the JO’s formation, the outfit organized a major rally at Nugegoda on Feb 18, 2015, Prof. Peiris said, declaring that they were able to challenge the government within weeks after the Mahinda Rajapaksa’s defeat.
Prof. Peiris pointed out that though the general belief was that a new government couldn’t be challenged in its first year, the JO took on the new administration within weeks after the presidential poll. Prof. Peiris said that the Nugegoda rally was followed by public meetings in Kandy, Kurunegala, Ratnapura, Anuradhapura, Galle and Matara where the operation gathered momentum.
The outcome of the August 2015 general election prompted the leadership to explore ways and means of addressing the grievances of the electorate, Prof. Peiris said.
“We handed over our application to the Election Commission on Oct 21, 2016, received the EC’s recognition on Oct 28, 2016 and the SLPP came into being on Nov 01, 2016,” Prof. Peiris said, pointing out how the new party sent shock waves through the established political parties at the Feb 10, 2018 Local Government polls.
There couldn’t be another instance of a new political party achieving 71 per cent of the vote at a countrywide election, Prof. Peiris said, recalling severe difficulties experienced by them before the application was submitted.
Alleging that the UPFA suffered defeat at the 2015 August general election as a result of internal manipulations, Prof. Peiris pointed out that in spite of treachery, the UPFA secured 95 seats – just 11 short of the UNP led coalition.