Nominating a Prime Ministerial candidate in view of an election is politically illogical and injudicious. There had been no such practice in the election history of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, President Maithripala Sirisena said in Galle.
The President was addressing Galle District SLFP Delegates' Conference at Halle De Galle in Galle on Saturday (April 25).
He said in the event a Prime Ministerial nominee is declared prior to an election, all political criticisms and allegations will be made against him.
"He will become the chief focus of all political attacks which would be disadvantageous to the candidate," the President said.
President Sirisena made these remarks in response to a proposal submitted at the conference by a delegate that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa be named as the SLFP's prime ministerial candidate at the next parliamentary election.
"At the previous Presidential election, the SLFP on the wrong assumption that the then Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe would be the rival candidate spent colossal amounts to attack him. Mahinda Rajapaksa commenced his Presidential election campaign in 2014 ahead of all other opponents. However, all took a negative turn when just few weeks ahead of the Presidential Race I challenged him as his rival candidate," the President said.
"The millions spent for such a silly political ploy was an utter waste," he said. "I contested for the previous election in a new different political alliance which included about 49 political parties and organizations at which the SLFP's candidate was defeated. The majority of people accepted my manifesto and voted me to power. Now I am obliged to fulfill the masses' aspirations of good governance, justice, rule of law in the country, freedom and democracy which I observe as my first priority," he said.
"However just after about three weeks since my emergence as the President, a group of top SLFP leaders requested me to accept the party leadership. However, I reminded them of the suspension of my party membership which they promised to rectify. As I love my party I willingly accepted their request," the President said.
"They later suggested meeting former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to which I consented. I told them that I would come to any place convenient to them. I met Rajapaksa at the official residence of Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa. At that meeting, the former also requested me to obtain the party leadership to which I agreed. Since then, I did everything possible to develop the party upholding unity," he said.
The President said to get advice and guidance to the party; he formed a Consultative and Instructing Committee with party stalwarts, including former Presidents Mahinda Rajapaksa and Chandrika Kumaratunga and former Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne for which he amended the party constitution.
"Hereafter all future party programmes and plans would be formulated and implemented on the advice and instructions of the committee. My only ambition is to make the SLFP victorious once again," he said.
"The challenges before the party are too complicated. We have to review the causes for our defeat and rectify such slip-ups. We cannot win only with party members' votes. We need the support of other friendly parties. We have to win the hearts of minorities. We have to learn and listen to their needs and aspirations. The party should have a strategy to attract the young people of the country to accomplish unity among party members is vital," President Sirisena said
"We should be able to solve our problems through concession, compromise and consultation. Division in party circles will lead to our downfall. We have experienced the bitterness of political defeat. We should ponder over the present day problems with utmost tranquility in mind. Emotional reaction towards very sensitive issues is highly destructive to the forward march of the party," he said.