The SLPP, officially led by Prof. G.L. Peiris so far operated as a proxy party for Rajapaksa. Although the party won the last Local Government election, its de facto leader, Mahinda Rajapaksa, did not even obtain membership of the SLPP.
“I will take the party leadership now,” Rajapaksa said while speaking to a group of journalists at his official residence in Colombo.
However, Rajapaksa did not elaborate as to when exactly he will officially take over the party’s top post.
Meanwhile, Prof. Peiris, addressing a press conference in Colombo recently, said he would make an official request to Rajapaksa to take up the leadership of the party.
The transition, Colombo Telegraph learns, is expected to happen at the special convention of the party next month.
What stood in Rajapaksa’s way of becoming the leader of the SLPP was the concern that it would unseat him as a member of Parliament. Peiris recently said the party had obtained legal advice on the matter and Rajapaksa did not run the risk of losing his MP seat, if he became a member of the SLPP.
“The SLFP has now sunk to a voter-base of 4-5%. It is unlikely that the party will initiate action against Rajapaksa. The SLFP has limited bargaining power in the deal. If MR becomes the leader of the SLPP and if the SLFP still keeps him as a party leader, it will only be an embarrassment to President Sirisena, the Chairman of the SLFP,” an informed SLFP source told Colombo Telegraph.