The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) is interested in forming a nationalist, anti-neo liberal government that has learnt from past mistakes, SLFP General Secretary Dayasiri Jayasekara said.
Speaking to the media at the party headquarters in Colombo this morning, Jayasekara said talks with the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) has reached a decisive stage, though there are uncertainties about working together with known crooks.
During the 52-day coup, he said, people were surprised and confused seeing old thieves return to their positions of power.
If the same thing happens in a future [SLPP candidate] Gotabaya Rajapaksa government, the SLFP would have no qualms about standing up against it.
“The understanding between us is a positive one. When it comes to policy, there is no real difference between us, and Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s proposals on governance and ours align,” he said.
However, the SLFP’s goal is to protect its identity when forming a broader alliance.
“We’re also opposed to corruption. If we look at the reasons we lost in 2015, we want a government that has learned from those mistakes,” he said.
Commenting on the differences of opinion on the symbol for the proposed SLFP-SLPP alliance, Jayasekara acknowledged that there is indeed some contention, but argued that not using the Pohottuwa or lotus bud symbol of the SLPP would be to everyone’s advantage.
“It doesn’t have to be either the hand (SLFP symbol) or the lotus bud. Supporters won’t go and vote for the UNP just because the symbol is something other than the pohottuwa. However, if the party is the pohottuwa, there is a chance that grassroots SLFP supporters will reconsider their vote for the alliance given the history between the two parties,” said Jayasekara.
A date has not yet been decided on the next round of talks, but the SLFP is hopeful of a positive outcome, he further said.
“There are different schools of thought in the SLFP. Some say don’t team up with the SLPP. Some say we absolutely must. Others say let’s field our own candidate and protect our party identity. As General Secretary, my goal is to bring all of these points of view into one place,” he said.
“The best way to go about that is to come to an agreement on the symbol. It’s not just the few of us at the top that we have to think about. We have to protect our organisers, grassroots level party workers, too. The party whose views align the most with our own is the SLPP – and its leftist allies,” he added.
The general secretary went on to say that despite ongoing talks, his party is opposed to extremists.
“We have to ensure equal protection for all communities, and at the same time safeguard the interests and the respect of Sinhala Buddhists,” he said.