Opposition calls SLPP bluff, challenges ruling party to defeat budget



ECONOMYNEXT –Amid speculation of a widening rift within the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) over its political future, the main opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) has called the SLPP’s bluff, challenging it to defeat the upcoming budget if they want an election.

Former SJB MP Mujibur Rahuman said the SLPP can defeat the upcoming budget if they want a parliamentary election.

“If the Rajapaksas want to go for an election, they can defeat the budget. We don’t know if they’ll take that decision,” Rahuman said speaking to reporters. “What we see is that they talk big outside, but turn into kittens at the sight of President Ranil Wickremesinghe. Those are the Rajapksas that are visible to us,” he said.

SLPP legislator S M Chandrasena said his party will be the “main factor” at future presidential and parliamentary elections, speculation over its internal divisions notwithstanding. He told reporters at the party headquarters Friday November 10 morning that no one can bring the SLPP down.

“Many are slinging mud at the SLPP, claiming the Pohottuwa (party symbol) was what caused the economic crisis and other crises. We know that for years, particularly during the Yahapalana government, the country took 12 billion dollars in loans. With nothing to show for it, as far as we know,” the MP said.

“So our party cannot be brought down. Our party is the main factor in the election of the next president and also in the formation of the next government,” he added.

Meanwhile, according to National People’s Power (NPP) leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, the SLPP is in a predicament. Dissanayake said at an event in the US earlier this week that an early parliamentary poll would prove disastrous to the Rajapaksa-led party, so they would have to throw their weight behind President Wickremesinghe at the presidential poll, which would also spell a shift of power to Wickremesinghe’s associates and confidantes in his United National Party (UNP).

The only way for an early parliamentary poll would be for the president to dissolve parliament, which he is unlikely to do, with the upcoming budget also unlikely to be defeated, Dissanayake, who leads the Marxist-Leninist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) said.

Dissanayake currently leads at least one opinion poll on presidential election voting intent.