Contrary to reports, claims and speculation, a political pact between former President Chandrika Kumaratunga and UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe was unlikely, political sources said. Reports on the possibility of Kumaratunga entering Parliament, to fill in the vacancy created through the assassination of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, have fuelled speculation that a political marriage of convenience was in the offing, the sources said.
Kumaratunga may enter Parliament through the National List but a pact with Wickremesinghe was implausible, the sources said.
However, it would not be easy to undermine President Mahinda Rajapakse`s government, the sources said.
Rajapakse wants ex-Matara District MP Dallas Allapperuma to fill Kadirgamar`s vacancy.
Party sources said that the Rajapakse camp was confident of facing a possible threat.
Acknowledging the impossibility of the CBK-Wickremesinghe pact now, a veteran politician yesterday revealed that they almost succeeded in forming a Government of National Reconciliation in August 2001. But Wickremesinghe scuttled the proposal, he said. According to him SLFP and UNP delegations discussed the issue on August 25 and 27, 1991 and agreed that Kumaratunga should invite Wickremesinghe to be the Prime Minister.
The SLFP delegation had included Mahinda Rajapakse, Lakshman Kadirgamar, Mangala Samaraweera, Nimal Siripala de Silva, Anuruddha Ratwatte and D.M.Jayaratne.
Karu Jayasuriya, Tyronne Fernando, Charitha Ratwatte and K.N.Choksy had represented the UNP.
The two parties were to divide 30 Cabinet portfolios equally. This was to be a three-year arrangement with the focus on the national issue (peace process) and the economy. SLMC leader MHM Ashraff and TULF MP Neelan Tiruchelvam are believed to have backed the move.
But Ranil had discarded the proposal by demanding the impossible. `He wanted absolute power in a country with an executive presidential system and did not give much thought to the proposal as his aim was to be the President in 2005.`
Wickremesinghe is believed to have refused to acknowledge reality until just before the presidential polls nominations when he urged Kumaratunga to `seek a platform of consensus.`
The sources further said that Wickremesinghe could have avoided defeat if he agreed to work with Kumaratunga. The Island learns that Kumaratunga sent a message to Wickremesinghe shortly after taking over the ministries of Defence, Police and Media in November 2003 that she did not want another election. She had also spoken against a fresh alliance with the JVP. She is believed to have said, `Please work with me during the next few years. You can be the President after that.` This message is believed to have been carried by the then Foreign Minister Tyronne Fernando. Despite Kumaratunga signalling that she was prepared to restore police and media portfolios and a part of defence, Wickremesinghe failed to grab the opportunity. A workable agreement at that time could have easily pre-empted the inevitable SLFP-JVP coalition that inflicted a heavy defeat at the April 2004 general elections, the sources said.
Meanwhile Wickremesinghe appears to have overcome the imminent challenge to his position with the majority of the parliamentary group backing his leadership.
Wickremesinghe`s defeat, at the closely contested presidential polls, triggered speculation that there would be a challenge to his leadership.