Leader of both the Joint Opposition (JO) and the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP) Dinesh Gunawardena yesterday (24), called upon all political forces in Sri Lanka to team up with them to defeat the ruling United National Party (UNP) and to end the rule of the Government at all levels.
“The JO and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) are also holding negotiations with each other so, that we may contest together. The discussions are yet at a formative stage and the announcements will be made after the nominations are finalized,” Gunawardena told a news conference at the MEP headquarters at Maharagama yesterday.
He said, that he had invited the Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) led by Arumugam Thondaman and the Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) led by Douglas Devananda to join the alliance they intend to form.
He also said that the Chairman of the Election Commission Mahinda Deshapriya had declared that the Local Government polls were to be held on 27 November which the Government had earlier postponed by two years, adding that now it is being put on hold again.
Polls for the three Provincial Councils – Sabaragamuwa, the North Central and Eastern Provinces, was due on 2 October but they were postponed and that was the reason why the JO handed over a motion of No- Confidence on Minister of Provincial Councils and Local Government, Faiszer Musthapha.
He also said that there were a large number of areas in which the LG polls could be held without any controversy and called on the Government to hold them without further delay.
He also said that the Government by postponing the LG polls, had not only deprived the democratic election of the office bearers to those bodies, but had put a grinding halt to all the operational functions in all those areas.
The LG polls is the election that matters to the villages because all the micro issues such as the provision of electricity and the repairs of roads are done by this authority and such operations have now come to a grinding halt, he said.
He also said that the non holding of the Provincial Councils elections with regard to the three Councils was also detrimental because the Governors of all three Provinces were running the Councils in their own manner and to the detriment of the people.
He stressed that it should have been Opposition Leader and Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Leader Rajavarothiam Sampanthan who should have pressed for the LG polls, but it was the JO that is doing his job.
This is a fundamental, mathematical flaw where the TNA with 16 members is the main Opposition while we, (the JO) with 54 members are left out, he said. He also expressed concerns regarding the 2018 National Budget which was presented in Parliament on 9 November.
Describing it has the ‘Beer Budget’, he said that social scientists and others were already complaining of the adverse impact that it would have in the short, medium and long-term and urged the Government to withdraw it.
Speaking on other aspects of the Budget, he also said that there were severe anomalies in it, adding that the Government was attempting to stifle the concept of free education and also impact the working class adversely by bringing in amendments to the Shop and Office Employees Act. He also said that the amendments proposed to certain pieces of legislation would also affect the farmers as well.
MEP Digamadulla District MP Sriyani Wijewickrema and MEP Gampaha District MP Sisira Jayakody also spoke.