The Sunday Leader

Opposition Leader Will Most Probably Be An SLFP MP – Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena

By Waruni Karunarathne

SLFP national list nominee Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena who is in the pro-Sirisena group told The Sunday Leader that the current state of confusion is only due to a small faction of the SLFP who propagated the Mahinda Wind (Mahinda Sulanga) at the election – yet that will not affect the party’s stance in parliament.

Following are excerpts of the interview:

Q: What are the major concerns of the SLFP that has delayed the process of forming a national government with the UNP?

A: When two parties get together especially to form a national government, there are so many issues that need to be sorted out and consensus reached before forming the government. Especially with reference to allocating ministerial portfolios to both the parties without any injustice is a matter that needs to be discussed. Secondly, the ministries should not be expanded beyond their subject area and earlier we had agreed not to expand the ministries beyond those specific subject areas. When doing that some may face injustices and we need to discuss, to prevent such injustices.   The UNP has come to power after 20 long years and there are people who have remained loyal to the party throughout. Therefore, when giving portfolios, decisions have to be made without undermining them and those SLFPers who are joining to form a government with the UNP. The subject areas need to be allocated in a manner in which we share a collective responsibility of the activities performed in each ministry.


Q: Don’t you think that important decisions such as ministerial portfolios should have been made before signing the MoU with the UNP to form a national government? What is the reason that you missed out those important discussions?

A: The MoU was signed based on a few important basic factors to have an understanding to work together. Mainly, in the MoU, we agreed to work with them for two years in the national government. Secondly, we agreed upon the stance of both the parties on national security, economy etc. Those are the main reason upon which we signed the MoU.


Q: However, people are of the view that both parties should have reached a consensus relating to important political matters before signing a MoU rather than focusing on matters that are similar to the content of an election manifesto. In that regard, do you think that the two major political parties in the country have acted irresponsibly at an important juncture like this?

 A: I do not think it is necessary to sign a MoU regarding the allocation of the ministerial portfolios. Such matters should be resolved after discussions. If we included matters of that nature in the MoU, we might not have been able to even reach consensus to form a national government. In this manner, the issue is being resolved more amicably. In fact it has been resolved. So the best way is to resolve such issues through discussions. If we included that in the MoU at the beginning then the whole process would have been sabotaged.


Q: Some SLFP stalwarts have expressed pessimistic views on forming a national government. Given that there are various opinions within the party, do you still think it is wise to go for a national government?

A: The national government is in fact a good idea. However, some people have been promoting it negatively which in fact resulted in unsuitable people getting elected to parliament at the recent election. We expected respectable people in parliament but various wrathful propaganda campaigns against the national government blocked the opportunity of getting better people elected to parliament. Therefore further criticising this process will only damage the party and will not benefit the party in any manner. Besides, most of those within the SLFP who initially voiced against the concept of the national government have now come to agreement to join a national government.  If they initially agreed to this, such issues would not have been occurred within the party.


Q:  We still see two factions in the SLFP. What is your response to that?  

A: Two factions in sense are a result of misdirecting the propaganda campaigns during the election especially related the national government concept. Some of them made an attempt to propagate the Mahinda Wind (Mahinda Sulanga) and bring forward personal ideologies. It did not do any good to anybody. Former President Rajapaksa also did not reap any benefit out of that – he only ended up being just a MP representing the Kurunegala district. The only outcome was that a small number of people entered parliament by using this campaign.  They received some of the grass root level votes of MR and managed to enter parliament with the blessing of this campaign. That was a onetime trick. Other than that there is no essence in that campaign. If they take it further, it will only lead them to destruction.


Q: How do you view the one set of SLFPers claiming to sit in the opposition?

A: Those who claimed to sit in the opposition have to sit in the opposition as they claimed on the stage during the election. They said that they were against the national government and would not join a national government etc. Then they cannot reverse what they said. They have no choice now other than to sit in the opposition.


Q:  In the context where one set of SLFPers sits with the government and the other set in the opposition, can a SLFP member then be made the opposition leader?

A: The opposition leader will most probably will be a SLFP member. The President has given approval for that.


Q:  If one set of the SLFP in the government and another in the opposition, don’t you think it will create confusion in the eyes of the public and even from the party’s perspective?      

A: No, there will not be any confusion. We do it with an understanding. The Central Committee of the party and the party leadership has taken a decision that if there are people opposing this move, they can sit in the opposition. Then those people can play the role of the opposition. The national government will continue for two years and they will sit in the opposition for those two years.


Q: You were defeated at the recent election and later appointed to parliament through the national list, what measures will you take to build your party and to overcome the rift within the party?

A: We did not lose but we were defeated due to the ‘Mahinda Sulanga’. We are not a set of people who did politics to be defeated in our districts. We worked with and for the people in our electorates. But a faction of the SLFP had a propaganda saying that we would go to UNP after winning the election and said that we would not support MR to be the prime minister. During this election, there was an unfortunate situation as the personal ideologies was brought forward rather than working as a party. It blocked the opportunity of respectable people coming to parliament. With the change that occurred after January, we expected people to use their votes wisely this time but this group misled the people which is a crime committed against the nation. Through that campaign, they stole the grass root level votes of Mahinda Rajapaksa. However, it will not affect our stance in parliament. We have maintained the same position. Therefore as a party, it will not affect us. After two years, if necessary we can withdraw from the government and work as a party and continue politics.

2 Comments for “Opposition Leader Will Most Probably Be An SLFP MP – Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena”

  1. Hadeniya

    How is it possible for the SLFP to be both in the government and the opposition? Is this a world’s first?

  2. Edwin Gomez

    Oh no, this sounds like Deja Vu all over again.

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