President Chandrika Kumaratunga is believed to have directed that Minister Anura Bandaranaike be brought to Tuesday`s public rally at Wariyapola. Kumaratunga, after observing Bandaranaike`s absence had inquired about the possibility of airlifting Bandaranaike. The Island learns that inclement weather prevented the SLAF from carrying out the presidential directive.
`President Kumaratunga expected Anura to attend the rally. His absence surprised her,` a political source said. The source expressed the belief that Kumaratunga believed her brother was to address the rally.
Bandaranaike is believed to have avoided the meeting fearing a hostile crowd. `The talk of a live coverage and the possibility of a hostile JVP crowd discouraged him,` another source said. JVP speakers did not address the rally. Political sources said that the organisers did not want any unpleasant situation. The sources said that JVP speakers would not be available for meetings addressed by Kumaratunga and Bandaranaike.
A minister said that Kumaratunga`s speech at Wariyapola was well received by an enthusiastic crowd. `She endorsed Rajapakse`s candidature,` he said. Rajapakse pledged to preserve the SLFP`s identity and policies after Kumaratunga, in her speech, emphasised the need to protect their policies and vision.
Political sources said that Kumaratunga and Rajapakse, following their last Saturday`s meeting at Janadhipathi Mandiraya, shortly after her return from France, managed to clear some contentious issues.
Party sources said that Rajapakse`s camp expected the entire party to work towards the Prime Minister`s victory. It would be ridiculous to waste time over various issues, the sources said emphasising that everything would depend on Rajapakse`s victory