Ruling party sources said that talks among constituent parties of the UPFA, on nominations for the upcoming parliamentary elections would be difficult, particularly in view of the breakaway faction of the JVP, the National Freedom Front, the Jathika Hela Urumaya, UNP dissidents and several newcomers to parliamentary politics seeking the UPFA ticket.
At the last parliamentary elections in April, 2004, the JHU went it alone and subsequently joined President Mahinda Rajapaksa s government.
Sources said that there was fierce competition to secure nominations to contest 16 electoral districts outside the Northern and Eastern provinces.
Sources said that those who were not confident of public support even if given nominations wanted National List slots. On the other hand, the UNP and JVP would be able to accommodate many newcomers as over 30 members, who entered parliament on being elected or through the National List are with the UPFA today.
Responding to The Island queries, sources said that the situation had been further complicated by a decision taken by Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake to reduce the number of elected representatives from the Colombo District by one and increase the number of elected MPs from the Anuradhapura District by one. At the last parliamentary election, Colombo and Anuradhapura elected 20 and eight MPs, respectively.
Sources said the Communist Party and the LSSP would jointly field candidates in a bid to win what ministerial sources called the left vote. Among the candidates expected to join the fray is veteran politician Vasudeva Nanayakkara, a member of the Colombo Municipal Council and advisor to the President. Sources said Nanayakkara was likely to contest from the Ratnapura District.
Sources revealed that the CP-LSSP alliance would back MEP leader Dinesh Gunawardene, particularly in the Avissawella electorate.
Sources said that Western Provincial Councillors, Thilanga Sumathipala and Duminda Silva were likely to receive nominations to contest the Colombo District thereby intensifying the battle for parliamentary slots.
Sources said that the recently formed Sri Lanka National Congress, too, was likely to seek three slots in two electoral districts, with its leader Justice and Law Reforms Minister Milinda Moragoda contesting Colombo. Sources said Moragoda was likely to ask for two slots in Colombo and one in Puttalam.
Sources said that except for Hemakumara Nanayakkara, who quit active politics, all UPFA members of the sixth Parliament as well as those who had switched their allegiance to the President after being elected on the UNP ticket would be accommodated. Sources said the contest in some districts, particularly Katutara and Gampaha, would be fierce with former JVP heavyweight Nandana Gunatilleke and UNP dissidents, Dr. Rajitha Senaratne and Mahinda Samarasinghe entering the fray.
Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremenayake, who had represented the Kalutara District previously, entered the sixth parliament on the UPFA National List. As Wickremanayake hadn t been accommodated in the original National List, one of the appointed MPs quit paving the way for him. Sources speculated that the Prime Minister s son, Vidura, may want to contest the coming election, though he failed at the April 2004 general election. The Prime Minister would be accommodated on the National List, the sources said.
Except JHU parliamentary group leader Ven. Athureliye Ratana, MP, other monks would not contest this time, though the lay members of the JHU would join the fray. Environment and Natural Resources Minister Champika Ranawaka is expected to contest the Colombo district. Sources said that a final decision on JHU candidates would be taken today (Feb 8). NFF leader Wimal Weerawansa, too, will contest from Colombo.
Sources said that contrary to reports, the breakaway LTTE faction, the TMVP would contest on the UPFA ticket. The CWC, too, would remain with the government, sources said emphasising that all political parties which supported the President at his successful re-election bid would be on one side.