Lankan media cynical about Mangala's prospects
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Lankan media cynical about Mangala's prospects

Media reactions to the split in the ruling SLFP and formation of the SLFP by the sacked Samaraweera have been critical, reports PK Balachandran.

world Updated: Jun 21, 2007 16:13 IST
PK Balachandran
PK Balachandran
Hindustan Times

Media reactions to the split in the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the formation of the SLFP (Mahajana Wing) by the sacked Minister Mangala Samaraweera have been cynical. In the media's view, the SLFP (MW) doesn't look as if it will make a difference to the political scene.

But at the same time, it is acknowledged that President Mahinda Rajapaksa may be a worried man. The prospect of former President Chandrika Kumaratunga's coming back to active politics through the SLFP (MW) and leading a combined SLFP (MW)-Opposition assault on the government, does disturb him.

Samaraweera had appealed to her to come back from "political retirement" and "guide" the SLFP (MW) and the country. She is due to come back to Sri Lanka from the UK soon.

Motives suspect

Daily Mirror described Samaraweera's move as "disruptive" at a time, when the crying the need was political unity to face the "multifaceted crisis" facing Sri Lanka. The split in the ruling party would only "push the country towards greater instability" the paper warned in an editorial.

Questioning the motives of the defecting duo, former Ministers Mangala Samaraweera and Sripathy Sooriyarachchi, the paper said that the "crux of the matter appears to revolve around ministerial positions and personal vendettas."

The Island daily said in its editorial that the defection and the emergence of a new political outfit would only help the LTTE.

"Their (the defectors') game plan is clear: While the LTTE is targeting the government on the war front, the dissidents and the UNP (the opposition United National Party ) will engage it on the political front."

Noting that President Mahinda Rajapaksa is getting rattled these days, the paper advised him to stay cool, as any rash reaction would only help the detractors and the LTTE.

It asked him to concentrate on good governance, because the success or failure of SLFP (MW) would depend on his ability or inability to govern the country.

But as of now, The Island is not sanguine about the SLFP (MW)'s prospects. It would "lose its magic" after its ceremonial launching on Friday, it predicted.

Chandrika factor

The Tamil daily Thinakkural went along with Samaraweera on his description of the sordid state of affairs in Sri Lanka, but it did not relish the prospect of former President Kumaratunga's leading the SLFP (MW). Samaraweera had appealed to her to come out of political retirement and "guide" the new group and the country.

In her 11 year rule, which ended in December 2005, Kumaratunga did not achieve anything concrete, Thinakkural said. She only confused issues to the detriment of Sri Lankans, it said.

However, Thinkkural notes that Rajapaksa is less wary and apprehensive about Ranil Wickremesinghe, the Leader of the Opposition and his formal rival, than he is about Kumaratunga, a retired politician. Many of Rajapaksa's actions betray apprehensions about a Kumaratunga come back, the paper points out.

Political circles say that Rajapaksa feels that Kumaratunga may be having her loyalists in parliament and the Council of Ministers, even now. They also say that disgruntlement is widespread in the SLFP and the government. They point out that during Samaraweera's highly vituperative speech in parliament on Wednesday, none from the ruling party ventured to challenge him. The stony silence was pregnant with meaning, they felt.

However, several ministers told the media that the SLFP ( MW) posed no danger to the government. Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle said that there was no likelihood of Kumaratunga's coming back to active politics.

First Published: Jun 21, 2007 14:53 IST