The Sunday Leader

SLFP Must Decide Its Next Move Soon – Nimal Lanza

by Ashanthi Warunasuriya

The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) is having talks to decide its future with the unity government, Deputy Housing Minister Nimal Lanza said. He said that as of now 41 members of the SLFP are in talks regarding their future in the unity government. However Nimal Lanza said the SLFP members will respect any decision taken by the party leadership.

Q. What has happened to the Unity Government?

A. As SLFP members we joined the national government for two years. Now this term is coming to an end. Hence the SLFP members definitely have to figure out what we are going to do at the end of this period. Therefore various discussions in this regard are currently taking place.


Q. What is the common focus of these discussions?

A. In fact the people are not happy today. People have been expressing their displeasure on various areas such as development and the country’s economy. Even we agree that on the part of the people these regrets are reasonable and justified. That is why I say this past two year journey is not satisfactory for us.


Q. Among what is being discussed, a very prominent statement was that 19 of the SLFP members will break away from the government. Are you among this group too?

A. We have not said that we will leave the government. At the meeting with the President, Minister John Seneviratne and I expressed our views that the people are not happy at the manner in which the government has acted during the past two years. Hence the Central Committee should definitely take a decision regarding the future of this consensus government. What we said that day was to take our views into consideration. However at that point we did not indicate if we were going to stay on with the government or leave them.


Q. Then what is this talk of the SLFP being in the government only until December?

A.  The President made a request and asked us not to make a decision in this regard right away. Hence, he said at our last meeting that since the two years agreed upon with the UNP ends in December and that we should wait until then at least before we make any decision.


Q. Even last Thursday this issue was discussed and what was the outcome of that meeting?

A. No that meeting was not with the President but the ministers meet up periodically. On that day around 13 of the ministers met and discussed the request made by the President. In fact we discussed and agreed that if we are to comply with the President’s request, we should inform him of our concerns and we should move forward and come to a conclusive decision based on his response.


Q. Why did you’ll decide to join this government?

A. When the people gave them their mandate, we too thought we should assist them as it was the desire of the people. However, we have now come to the conclusion that the people’s desires and expectations are not being met by this government.


Q. But, there is speculation that your group is engaging in a conspiracy against the government together with the President?

A.  All 41 of us are on the same platform and if we decide to leave the government all of us will do so. If not all of us will decide to stay in the government and move forward. According to our collective discussions however, is to allow the UNP to carry on this government for the next three years. We will not pressure the international powers to appoint our Prime Minister as it is not fair. What we now want is the opportunity to support the government in endeavours that are beneficial to the country and oppose those that are harmful or detrimental to the country. However, with regard to the current discussions that are ongoing, there is no definite conclusion as yet.


Q. Is the speculation that your group is planning on joining the Joint Opposition untrue?

A. We have not discussed any plans on such a merger as yet.


Q. Are you certain that there is no deal with anyone?

A. For those of us who understand politics, we know that we cannot get to govern until 2020. There are no deals here. What we want is to embark on a journey that develops the country and brings prosperity, but if that is not happening, we need to put pressure on the government. If there are deals being made, then we will stay with the government because we will benefit out of it. That is why I state that I have no personal gains or losses in staying with the government or leaving it. I came into politics because of the people and have taken all decisions based on the welfare of the people.


Q. The UNP alleges that the unity government is splitting up because it is difficult to work with the SLFP representatives. Is this true?

A. That is the opinion of the UNP. I am not a Cabinet representative. Hence, I cannot express my opinions regarding the decisions and actions of the Cabinet. However, I can say that within this unity government this issue is a nagging problem.


Q. In your work, have you had to encounter such differences of opinions?

A. No. In fact Minister Vajira has always given me the fullest support to carry out my duties.


Q. With everything that has happened, don’t you feel that the split within the SLFP is now apparent?

A. No, we are not talking about a split. What we say is that everyone should come together and make a conclusive decision. However, we have yet not taken that decision. But at the same time, if we are to remain within the government, then we cannot function in the direction the government is heading towards.


Q. Wasn’t there a plan to unite Maithripala Sirisena and Mahinda Rajapaksa?

A. Even after the Presidential election when we gave the party leadership to Maithripala Sirisena, we thought this issue will be resolved without any problem. However, the issue only aggravated. The people voted this government in twice and as such I personally do not like to pull the government by the leg and try to destabilise it as this is what the people wanted. Hence I have always supported the government and will continue to support it.

Dengue, SAITM, milk cow issues and various other issues are problems created by the government itself. These can be resolved but they are not doing so. That is why we say that some of the programmes of the government are not destined to succeed.


Q. As you say, at the end of two years a decision will be taken. When is the two year period ending?

A. On September 3, the order book was brought to parliament and the unity government was discussed on September 15 and on September 16 the government was sworn in. However, the President at the Central Committee meeting said December 2 as that was the day that the party secretaries signed the agreement. Hence, we are currently discussing as to when this two year period would end. All 41 of us are discussing this matter as a group.


Q. If there is such a big issue, why are these secret meetings?

A. No one is talking secretly. This is a decision that we need to take as a group. We can’t surely meet at a place such as the Manning Market and discuss this issue. Hence, we have to either meet as a group or discuss this at a minister’s residence or in parliament. These expressions of opinions and ideas happen everywhere. We joined this government for two years, now that the two years is ending, we need to take a decision.


Q. The UNP has the majority, hence how can you retain power by leaving?

A.  Yes, there is no dispute regarding that. That is why we believe that if this country is to progress, one party should rule. Otherwise it is a big injustice to the country. This is what has happened today. I am not implying that the bad should go to the UNP and the SLFP should take the credit for the good deeds. But, my view is that if we are to remain in the government, then we have to take responsibility for every decision taken, be it good or bad. The main reason for these issues is that both parties want to take individual decisions.

Our party members claimed that a UNP MP had condemned our party members at a meeting with the Prime Minister, and refused to  go for any of the PM’s future meetings. But my stance is that we should go. However, having taken a collective decision not to go, some of the senior ministers are quietly attending the PM’s meetings. We vehemently oppose such disloyal actions. These are examples of what we want to discuss with the President.


Q. However, at the end it is the party supporters that have been duped?

A. There are two sides to this. Predominantly, yes it is the party supporters that have been let down. On the other hand Mahinda Rajapaksa handed over the party Presidency to Maithripala Sirisena. Then as the party leader, he makes a decision to join the government, and we are only in support of that decision. But, that does not mean we have crossed over to the UNP. Neither have we left the SLFP. However, although we expected the party supporters to remain with us, today they are disappointed with the government. In fact 90% of those who supported the establishment of the unity government have now switched sides. No one is happy at the way the government is conducting itself. If you stop a bus and ask the passengers who is happy with the government’s current journey, if ten passengers say they are, I will leave my post and go home. It is the people who voted for us. We did not have any special support from the media or anyone else. Hence, personally I am grateful to the people for having supported us and I must remain loyal to them and respect the people’s wishes.

6 Comments for “SLFP Must Decide Its Next Move Soon – Nimal Lanza”

  1. Gobba

    Just concentrate on your Drug business for the time being Mr. Lansa !!!

  2. Abey

    Well, drug pushing crooks are deciding what is best for the country. Great news. I guess we need to thank the president and of course the idiotic srilankans who voted these crooks in. Of course the crooks in the UNP too. Not to mention the PM who tried his best to cover up the bond scam. In the past I have always voted for RW but I never will.

  3. It’s a terrible tragedy to get openion from drug traficar like Nimal.Lanza. where are we heading?

  4. People elected MS as the President after they got fed up with MR and certainly most of his cronies in the SLFP. I am not saying all the SLFP members are crooks, but certainly most of them are. We all know MR and his gangs are trying to persuade those in the unity government to leave unity government to achieve their own goal. Coming to UNP they also have crooks. But the real situation is that our country is in this situation due to MR’s action during his power for 10 years. MR and his cronies should take full responsibility to the current situation. Today we all can live happily without fear. Journalists should know how they were treated by the previous regime. But today the same journalists are crying for MR. Money talks.

  5. Dadaddaaggyaggydaaggyddddsd

    Mahinda rajapakshe requilish his post as party leader and Sirisena was never elected to the the post.
    Sirisena has destroyed the SLFP & let down its supporters.

    What right Nimal Lanza has to speak on SLFP’s next move other than plan the next move where the drug shipments should land.

    • Abey

      Dadada, or whatever, Then you are a MR fan, He may have looked after the SLFP for the benefit of his family & the gang and in doing so he screwed the country. Took away basic freedoms and if he had got elected he would be another MADURO of Venizuella. At least MS gave our democracy back and he cant do much more as he has to keep all SLFP crooks like Lanza happy. And I assume you voted for people like him

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