President urges party members and progressive forces to join hands to form a SLFP government in future
President Maithripala Sirisena said that the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) will contest the upcoming local government polls under the SLFP’s traditional ‘hand’ symbol. “We are firing the first salvo towards forming a SLFP Government at this convention,” President Sirisena said at the SLFP 65th Anniversary Convention in Kurunegala on September 4.
Hinting strongly at party dissidents of the Joint Opposition, President Sirisena said all members of the party must unite to strengthen the SLFP instead of threatening to create new political parties.
The President chaired the SLFP Convention in Maligapitiya Kurunegala yesterday that was held with much fanfare and drew large crowds. SLFP supporters converged upon Kurunegala from different parts of the island. Traditional drummers, dancers and musical interludes added colour to the proceedings.
He invited other political party’s supporting the SLFP and those who are willing to do so in the future to contest as a common front at future polls under the ‘Hand’ symbol. President Sirisena also invited SLFP parliamentarians in the Joint Opposition group to work within the party to form a SLFP led government in the future.
“I took over the leadership to form a SLFP led government,” the President added.
While observing that some were attacking him both openly and in secrecy, the President questioned whether they were conspiring against him as he is a man from humble background. He pointed out that he is the President who is mostly close to the general public as he came from a humble back ground when compared to the other six Executive Presidents in the country.
“Why are they challenging me? Why are they attacking me? Is it because I am an ordinary small man? Is it because I am the first President of Sri Lanka to have been born in a mudhut? Is it because I am the son of a poor farmer? Is it because I am not part of the traditional ruling class of this country?” he queried.
The President also stressed on the need to reorganize the party and form a clean political movement. He said the foundation for a clean political movement necessary for forming an SLFP led government in the future.
The President also cautioned about dividing the party and noted that all SLFP members must unite to strengthen the party, without eyeing to forming a new one. President Sirisena said he had made both written and verbal submissions to the former President not to hold elections as the party seniors and a majority of parliamentarians felt it was not appropriate and the party may lose.
President Sirisena said that however former President Rajapaksa had gone for elections without heeding such warnings.
The President questioned that if he had harboured any thoughts of dividing the party or contest polls at the time whether he would have made such submissions to the former President and the party leader.
The President also stressed that although some people spoke about international threats there was no such thing in the present as the current government had won the trust of the international community.
He said if such a threat arises, he will leave no room for the international community to interfere in the country’s domestic affairs.
“The SLFP will rise, it will fall, it will fall and it will rise again, but no matter how many times we fall, our 65 years of experience teaches us that the SLFP is the only party which rise again and again,” the President said.
He said SLFP leaders had faced challenges like no other party. “Our founder was brutally assassinated. The civic rights of Madam Sirimavo Bandaranaike were stripped. President Kumaratunga lost an eye in a terrorist attack, Mahinda Rajapaksa overcame terrorism and won the war,” the President enumerated during his convention speech.
The President also vowed to fend off external threats, hitting out against his critics who claim that he was betraying the country to foreign forces. “I will not permit any external forces to interfere in our country,” he pledged.
Also speaking at the Convention, SLFP General Secretary Duminda Dissanayake said the SLFP leadership had passed on to the most suitable and most deserving party members.
“65 years after the SLFP was founded, today the SLFP is a new party, a stronger party. That is why we say the party is in the right hands. Today S.W.R.D. Bandarnaike’s vision for this party is being realised,” Dissanayake asserted.
He said that the party convention had drawn record crowds this year, and urged those who said were allowing personal agendas to take precedence over the wellbeing of the party and its supporters to come and see what had happened in Kurunegala yesterday.
“Kurunegala is today a sea of heads. We urge those who don’t know the strength of this party, those who don’t value this party, those who place their personal agendas before the party, to come and see for themselves what has happened today. This party is finally in the right hands,” the SLFP General Secretary said.
Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, former Prime Minister D.M.Jayaratne, other SLFP leaders and SLFP members from the grassroots level attended.
The Convention was attended by thousands of party supporters representing every district of the country.
Representatives of 20 political parties attended the convention including the United National Party (UNP) and other mainstream political parties to well-wish to the event.