25 June, 2022


The SLFP’s Identity Crisis

By Malinda Seneviratne

Malinda Seneviratne

Malinda Seneviratne

The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) is suffering from an identity crisis. The signs are all over the place. The SLFP has more Members of Parliament than any other party and yet finds itself in the Opposition. The man who secured the support of a majority of voters is the leader of the SLFP and yet neither he nor the party seems to be calling any shots as of now. We have an unprecedented situation where a mandate has been effectively transferred to someone who didn’t trust himself to go before the people.

Maithripala Sirisena, as of now, does not seem to care about the SLFP. Right now, it makes sense for Ranil Wickremesinghe, Leader of the United National Party (UNP) and Prime Minister, to wish that the SLFP would implode. In this, as of now, President Sirisena appears to be playing the role of ‘accessory after the fact of implosion’.

First of all, the SLFP MPs themselves appear lost. They’ve pledged support to the man they campaigned against. Their political futures are tied to that of the President. They have enough political experience to understand that the SLFP will not get the 5.8 million that former president Mahinda Rajapaksa got on January 8, 2015. A considerable number of those who voted for Rajapaksa are themselves ‘lost’. They party they supported and the man they voted for both seem to be outside the political equation as of now. The party had backed ‘the other candidate’. The party is shunning ‘their’ candidate. ‘Their candidate’ is a member of the SLFP but is not treated as though he is. Indeed, he is operating as though he does not belong to the SLFP and vice versa.

Maithri SWRDThe President has been quiet and moreover seems to have absented himself in the affairs of the state and more disturbingly from the process of political reforms including changes in the Election Law that he promised to institute. He is in fact acting as though he is not concerned about the outcome of the General Election that Ranil insists will be held as promised (never mind those other policy-related promises being shoved into some dull corner of this mansion called Yahapaalanaya).

Now if Ranil Wickremesinghe and his Cabinet take concrete steps to investigate allegations of wrongdoing by Mahinda Rajapaksa, the issue would be sorted one way or another. If, for example, Mahinda is jailed, it might either take the thorny ‘MR Factor’ out of SLFP election-related deliberations or might generate a surge of sympathy for him and corresponding anger at the President which would force his (Sirisena’s) hand with respect to decisively breaking his strange marriage with Ranil and the UNP. As long as nothing is done, Ranil probably knows, it will only help exacerbate divisions within the SLFP.

Mahinda himself appears to be in two minds about his political future, or rather what he should do right now. He has almost fully recovered his ‘face’ of 2009. In a situation where Sirisena and the SLFP are confused or in thumb-twiddling mode, Mahinda all of a sudden enjoys ‘demand’. Neither ‘face’ nor ‘demand’ together or separately add up to ‘viability’, politically speaking. As of now the likes of Wimal Weerawansa and Udaya Gammanpila are betting on riding this ‘demand’ to a ‘negotiated settlement’ with the SLFP/UPFA assuring them of nominations. That would be consolation for Wimal, Udaya and their diminishing numbers of backers. It does not help Mahinda.

If Mahinda makes any moves to re-take the SLFP it would most likely upset President Sirisena to the point that it will be resisted. The fact that such an eventuality is being thought of as a ‘possible’ itself indicates how seriously confused the SLFP is at this point. Mahinda or the Mahinda Factor has enough traction, however, to split the party. It won’t be 50-50 of course, but the SLFP can ill afford disunity at this point. Even an un-split but still confused SLFP will be no match for Ranil that much is clear.

All this indicates that the SLFP seriously needs to re-invent itself. Right now even the undelivered promises will work in Ranil’s favor even though it is he who is acting the Executive and ‘doing’ the non-delivery. That’s how much the SLFP sucks politically.

Given all this, Mahinda Rajapaksa, if he wants to make a comeback, must exercise patience. He can assert his political retirement and let Maithripala Sirisena effectively cripple the SLFP so that the rank and file, lacking options, will have to crawl to Medamulana and beg him to come out of retirement. Since Ranil and the UNP appear to be intent on re-enacting the 2001-2004 drama, Mahinda could very well count on a re-surge of the 2004 kind.

It all comes down to Maithripala Sirisena. If he doesn’t want the party, the party must decide if it wants him. If the President’s wallflower preference delivers electoral victory to the UNP, the decision will be made for both Sirisena and the SLFP MPs.

*Malinda Seneviratne is the Chief Editor of ‘The Nation’ and his articles can be found at www.malindawords.blogspot.com

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Latest comments

  • 7

    Ohhh Malinda Seneviratne – Medamulana Mahinda Rajapaksa Shill and whitewasher under Contact

    RE: The SLFP’s Identity Crisis

    This is Nor an SLFP identity Crisis.

    It is simply that Medamulana MaRa tried to hijack the SLFT for his Family Dynasty.

    White Vans, Family Projects, Crooks, Robbers and criminals are an Innovation of Medamulana Mahinda rajapaksa, plus they think the Sinhala Buddhists are STILL STUPID, are STILL MODAYAS, that they can ride them for ever.

    They were wrong.
    [Edited out]

    • 4

      The UNP was quite successful at crippling every other party – the Hela Urumaya, the LSSP and the rest of the Old Left. As for the SLFP, it was crippled the moment Maithripala Sirisena crossed over.

    • 4

      I think MR thugs hae turned SLFP a crisis by his megalomania nature.

      Today being behind the scence, he is the motivator to caricature Nugegoda like rallies.

      This man Mahinda has done more harm than good to this nation. War victory was a colelctive task.

    • 4

      If I am not reborn

      During the days of Mahinda Rajapakse

      a) He attacked Anura Bandaranayake to a manner people never expected

      b) He attacked CBK not giving her right to press freedom – but of course threatening her in a manner as street rascal woudl do.

      c) He even paid no respect late Bandararanayake – even demoilish his statue from teh place where it had been

      Today all what he has made turned to the erosion of the party.

      If CBK did nt join OPPOSITION to save the nation from MR – no change would have become the reality.

      As if people were caught by a dragon, they could leave under psychosis, no freedom of talk, no women rights, no child rights, nothing… but show off culture THAT RAJAPkshes are doing its best.. fake media events in favour of their political survivial.

      These men deserve only lONT TERM JAIL sessions.

      • 4

        Samuel Jayaweera

        Malinda Seneviratne types,

        “The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) is suffering from an identity crisis.”

        Bring back Pancha Maha Bala Vegaya (as demanded by Mahanayaka of Malwatte, Tibbatuwawe Sri Siddhartha Sumangala Thera on 14 August 2012), BBS and large dose of racism.

        Campaign should again be based on Sinhala only language policy, declaring this island as Aryan Sinhala/Buddhist kingdom, if possible engineer riots against the minorities, organise more rallies lead by Weerawansa, Dayan, Dinesh,………. protest against Halal food and products, ban singing Tamil national anthem, promise to send back Tamils and Muslims to whence their ancestors came, more land grab and colonisation, increase the number of armed forces, use scare tactics, imminent arrival of IPKF Mark Two, existencial of LTTE and associated threat, foreign conspiracy, Diaspora, ……………. Hindu Modi, Tamilnadu, …. etc,

        It might work. However it might work for the SLFP not for the island.

    • 2

      Malinda Seneviratne –

      Take a vacation from Shilling for next 3 days or spo and watch Word Cup Cricket.

      It is much more fun than Shilling and whitewashing for Medamulana MaRa & Company.

    • 1

      It s all because poor people s mandate allowed unethical unmoral candidate like Rajapakshe to ruin the nation. Good that his term put the end to Civil war, but that they abused to ruin the poor people. That is the bad side of democrazy.

  • 17

    Hey Malinda, reading your prose gives me a headache, always. Your style is monotonous and unclear. What’s up with the truncated sentences, ha? Are you trying to sound cryptic and wise like ancient seers? Also your thinking seems to be getting even more muddled with the defeat of your hero Mahinda.

    Unlike you, the ordinary people understand better what’s going on because they love their country and are honest enough to take up Maitri and Ranil’s dare to think outside the box. They realize in order to rescue the country from the brink of total ruin you have to shun adversarial party politics at least for awhile until a solid foundation is put in place for good governance based on the rule of law. The common opposition platform was based on this lowest-common-denominator consensus for restoring democracy. They also realize undoing the irreparable harm done by the tyrant Mahinda to democracy and justice in this country would take much more than 100 days.

    The 100-day program is only to set up the framework for the completion of the task in the months ahead. In order to achieve this the President and the Prime Minister are functioning as part of a national government as they promised in their election manifesto. And they are being supported by a majority in parliament to make this possible in the interests of good governance. Otherwise, the M.Ps know, they will be rejected by the people at the forthcoming elections. There is no confusion in the minds of those who put their self-interests in the back burner and give priority to the interests of the people. And Maitri has said even after the elections a national government will be formed for at least two years to complete the task of restructuring the country’s polity, economy and culture as mandated by the people.

    But you’re not capable of understanding this. Or you pretend not to understand. Because you are still trapped inside the mental box of your partisan thinking. You’re reluctant to accept the political changes taking place in the country. For you the political fortunes of SLFP and Mahinda seem to be more important than the plight of the country and the people who have suffered the horrors of Rajapaksa’s despotism.

    But then Malinda, the truth is not always palatable. Don’t be sullen. Grow up and learn to face the real world.

    • 0

      “Hey Malinda, reading your prose gives me a headache, always.”
      I bet you love to read every word written by Malinda.

      • 7


        ooooooooooooooooooooooooo Greek!!!!

    • 5

      Malinda Seneviratne –

      RE: The SLFP’s Identity Crisis

      Call it a Mootal முட்டாள் Crisis, Fools Crisis, call it Crooks, Robbers and Criminals Crisis and a Crisis for the MaRa Shills and Cronies, bot others.

  • 2

    I don’t think any street smart, intelligent being would think that Sira cares about the SLFP.

    If he did, he wouldn’t have done what he did to the most successful Leader from the SLFP’s long history, who has done the most to the rural sector of the country, which continuously supported. the SLFP.

    To add insult to injury, Sira handed the Government to the arch enemy the UNP Christian Faction leader Ranil , who sidelined even its Buddhist leaders since 2001- 2004 period.

    But the UNP Buddhist leaders are like house trained dogs now,

    They have even forgotten to bark and wait patiently until the master gives orders.

    Sira openly has stated that he will be finished in 6 years, probably after the family is elevated to the Elite level ,at least in money.

    Then they will be a natural fit for the UNP.

    Whisky Madam on the other hand, would want to keep the SLFP afloat as long as she can keep it under control for any chance of Junior Kumaratunga getting the big Gig solely depend on a strong SLFP.

    But her intense hatred towards Rajapaksa must be tearing her apart.

    Rajapaksa should forget about the SLFP and join Weere, Gammanpila, Lanza, Ranatunga and other young Turks who were in Nugegoda to form a Sinhala United Party.SUA.

    Let us put it this way.. Tamils are about to get the registration for Tamil National Party. TNA..

    Muslims are already in Muslim Congress Party.

    What is the meaning of having a Srilanka Freedom Paty SLFP when these Tamil and Muslim parties are working to gother , to separate the country in to Ethnic specific Provinces and push the Sinhalese to the South.with the help of the UNP.

    United National Party on the other hand fits to a tee for the Elite, and the Anglicans as they are now totally united with the Tamils and the Muslims to do the proverbial to the Sinhala inhabitants , the great majority of whom are the rural poor.

    • 3

      Racist Bigot

  • 8

    The SLFP old guard who boycotted the Nugegoda are really anti-MR stalwarts. These guys were used as mere messengers and coolies when MR and family ran the show. These anti-MR stalwarts are bristling with anger for the past sins perpetrated on them, and are patiently waiting for the opportunity to drive the last nail in MR’s coffin.

    The have-beens Wimal, Vasu, Udaya etc are obviously clutching at that proverbial straw. Without MR they have no relevance. Hence the rented buses and rented crowds at Nugegoda, waving those faded MR placards which we saw during the Presidential campaign.

    Sirisena will surely not wish to break up the SLFP as there are too many stake-holders in the party with vested interests and separate agendas.

    I suspect that Sirisena, in his own style will contrive to make sure that MR will in the future remain a mere picture on the wall of the SLFP headquarters.

  • 6

    The only time SLFP had to undergo an identity crisis was when MR hijacked the party and transformed it to a family affair and somehow you never noticed it.You shamelessly poin to the “non delivery” of the promises,Here’s an exercise you might want to indulge yourself in.Dust off the cobwebs from the last edition of the MaRa chinthanaya(2010) that you embraced with such affection and list down how many of those promises he fulfilled.Once you have completed that painstaking exercise write to us (CT readers) about your beloved hero’s performance with regards to the “non delivery”.

  • 6

    This because SLFPers had mocked him when he was running for the Presidency – The UNP strongly backed him for the presidency and the UNP voters gave their strengthen feel and faith in Maithripala when he was elected as President.

    Still I think he will choose a victory for the UNPers in the general election because they have been in opposition so long. Now it’s the time for the UNP to prove what they can do to improve the country and life quality for people…

  • 0

    Malinda, Nice article. Don’t worry those who don’t like media freedom will be making all sorts of shill insults.

    Don’t forget democracy means you can support whoever you want, get used to demoracy.

    My bet is Ranil will be PM and head of state and government. With foreign support? I don’t know.

    Unless CT is blocked we can come back and see – April 24th, then?

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