The Socialist Alliance (SA) yesterday alleged that the forthcoming election to the Eastern Provincial Council could jeopardize the post-war national reconciliation process. The government couldn’t be unaware of the ground reality, Senior Minister Dew Gunasekera, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Sri Lanka [CPSL] told The Island yesterday. The SA comprises UPFA constituents, CPSL, Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) and the Democratic Left Front (DLF).
In a hard hitting letter, Ministers, Gunasekera, Prof. Tissa Vitharana (LSSP) and Vasudeva Nanayakkara (DLF) have told UPFA General Secretary, Petroleum Minister Susil Premjayanth that the SA has been compelled to go it alone as it has been deprived of an opportunity to field candidates on the UPFA ticket. They have reminded Minister Premjayanth that left parties were denied a chance to contest the May 2008 PC polls in the East as well on the UPFA ticket.
The SA will contest under the Lamp symbol which once belonged to the late Vijaya Kumaratunga’s party.
Speaking on behalf of the SA, Minister Gunasekera, who is also the Chairman of the Parliamentary Watchdog Committee, COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises), warned that nothing could be as unfortunate as the emergence of further divisions in the electorate. He emphasized that the SLFP-led UPFA, too, should take the blame for what he described as the deteriorating political situation in the Eastern Province.
The SA alleged that the UPFA’s election strategy would only contribute to the strengthening of separatist and fundamentalist sentiments not only in the multi-ethnic Eastern Province, but also in the entire country. It ran counter to the recommendations made by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), Minister Gunasekera said.
The government conducted the first election to the Eastern Province PC in May 2008 after it had been cleared of the LTTE.
Minister Gunasekera stressed that the government needed to examine the circumstances under which another UPFA constituent, the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) has decided to contest the PC polls on its own. Those at the helm of the ruling alliance seemed to be turning a blind eye to what was going on in the Eastern Province, Minister Gunasekera said, urging the government to review its strategies as regards minority political parties. The minister warned that the battle for preferential votes could cause further turmoil and plunge the Eastern Province into a crisis.
The SA stressed that it would do whatever possible to discourage separatist, fundamentalist and racist tendencies.
Asked whether he believed that the SLMC had jeopardized the UPFA chances of bagging the Eastern Province, Minister Gunasekera said that Minister Rauff Hakeem’s party had been offered 12 slots (six in Batticaloa and three each in Digamadulla and Trincomalee), though it had decided to contest on its own.
The UPFA could have easily fielded one candidate each from the CPSL, LSSP and DLF in the three Eastern Districts after the SLMC’s pull out, Minister Gunasekera said, noting that Minister Wimal Weerawansa’s National Freedom Front (NFF), too, had fielded a separate list for the Trincomalee district after the UPFA turned down an NFF plea for an opportunity to contest on the UPFA ticket. The NFF is a constituent of the UPFA.
by Shamindra Ferdinando