The UPFA yesterday announced that it had decided to field former President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the forthcoming general election. Addressing a packed media audience at Abhayaramaya yesterday, former minister Dinesh Gunawardena said that the district where the former President Rajapaksa would enter the fray would be announced shortly.
Gunawardena said that UPFA General Secretary Susil Premajayantha had issued a statement yesterday afternoon that the party had decided to nominate Rajapaksa to contest the upcoming polls.
The MEP leader said that the struggle they had launched from Nugegoda had reached fruition as the UPFA leadership had realised that the SLFP had to stay united to defeat the UNP. “We welcome the UPFA decision and thank President Maithripala Sirisena for his decision,” Gunawardena said, adding that they would now start the journey proper to defeat the corrupt UNP government.
Asked whether former President Rajapaksa would lead the UPFA campaign, Gunawardena said that it would be announced after handing over of nominations on July 13.
Responding to another query regarding whether President Rajapaksa would contest as the Prime Ministerial Candidate, Gunawardena said that President Maithripala Sirisena had clearly stated that it was a task best left to the UPFA parliamentary group. “We will not hurry at this moment to name a Prime Ministerial candidate and it will definitely happen after Rajapaksa’s landslide victory at the August 17 polls,” the former minister said.
Former Minister and Democratic Left Front Leader Vasudeva Nanayakkara said that they would start the inaugural rally for the victory of UPFA from Anuradhapura on July 09.
The Anuradhapura rally where former President Rajapaksa would attend with other leaders of the UPFA would be full of surprises, he said.
Former Minister Dullas Alahapperuma said that they would not launch a hate campaign and their campaign was even open to all those who had been misled and worked against Rajapaksa at the presidential election in January.
He said that the decision to give nominations to former President Rajapaksa had been taken at the party leaders’ meeting of the UPFA. It would be endorsed at the SLFP Central Committee meeting to be held shortly under the leadership of President Sirisena.
Alahapperuma said the UNP and other ‘retrograde forces’ criticised Ven. Muruththettuwe Ananda Thera for allowing his temple for the Rajapaksa’s campaign, but all must remember Ven. Thera had not done so for the UPFA or Rajapaksa faction but for the country.
Former Minister Wimal Weerawansa said that with former President Rajapaksa announcing his candidacy to contest the general election, anti-national forces including NGOs had panicked.
He said their sinister agenda would be defeated and Mahinda – Maithri combination would lead the country.
Former Foreign Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris said that it was a significant milestone for the country after six months of UNP maladministration.
He said the LTTE was reviving but the UNP government was silent on that.
Former Ministers Bandula Gunawardena, Gamini Lokuge, Mahindananda Alutgamage, Sarath Kumara Gunaratne, former MPs V. K. Indika and Arundika Fernando, Western Province Chief Minister Prasanna Ranatunga, Provincial Minister Upali Kodikara and former Western Province Governor Alawi Maulana also participated in the media conference.