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Minister Rajapaksa said that he had always suspected Minister Sirisena’s intentions unlike others who had their faith in him.
The minister was responding to a query at an informal meeting with the media at his office.
Although MPs had switched their allegiance to other political parties, the Opposition accepting a member of a rival party as their leader was unheard of, the Economic Development Minister said.
Responding to a query he said he had evidence of Maithripala Sirisena’s treachery though he couldn’t take it up with the President. The Health Minister was one who had worked closely with the President, therefore the incumbent leader didn’t expect a challenge from him. Minister Rajapaksa asserted that the former General Secretary could have explored the possibility of contesting the forthcoming poll as the SLFP’s nominees.
Comparing presidential polls in Nov 2005 and January 2010, Minister Rajapaksa said that UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe had fared much better than Gen. Sarath Fonseka at the last poll. The coalition backing Maithripala Sirisena was much weaker than the Opposition groupings that had challenged President Rajapaksa on earlier occasions, he asserted.
Asked whether the SLMC, too, would switch allegiance to Maithripala Sirisena, a smiling Rajapaksa said he thought the SLMC would remain with the government.
The SLMC contested the last parliamentary poll on the UNP ticket in April 2014 but pledged its support to President Rajapaksa later.
Responding to another query, the minister said that Maithripala Sirisena’s camp was obviously ahead of President Rajapaksa’s campaign where propagating lies, media circus and use of social media were concerned. The minister asserted that the Opposition strategy could be advantageous to the President as the electorate couldn’t be influenced through such gimmicks.
The minister alleged that powerful foreign elements were behind Maithripala Sirisena’s project. Although twice President Kumaratunga, UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and Maithripala Sirisena were on stage, they were only puppets on strings, the minister said.
Commenting on the Sihala Urumaya/JHU, Minister Rajapaksa said that the party had lost its relevance after the government had eradicated the LTTE terrorism. The JHU had no option but to either fade away or take up some other cause, the minister said, adding that the majority of JHU members had sided with the government following its honeymoon with Sirisena.