UPFA splits for May Day: Two rallies
The United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) for the first time, since its formation 11 years ago, is to hold two different May Day rallies after last minute appeals to hold a united rally failed. UPFA General Secretary Susil Premajayantha said yesterday that former President Mahinda Rajapksa, a patron of the party had been invited for the rally on May 1, but he had not responded.
The UPFA has planned to hold its main May Day meeting at Hyde Park in Colombo. Mr. Premajayantha said the UPFA would not hold a long march but alliance supporters would gather near the old Gamini Hall premises in Maradana, the Viharamahadevi Park and Brooke Bond junction at Union Place and march to Hyde Park.
A UPFA faction supporting Mr. Rajapaksa will hold a separate May Day rally at the Athulathmudali grounds in Kirulapone.Democratic Left Front leader Vasudeva Nanayakara, a leading member of the UPFA’s Rajapaksa faction, said the former president would not attend the rally although he had been invited and several overtures made to him. But Mr. Rajapaksa would be sending a message to be read out at the rally, he said.
Among the resolutions to be adopted at this rally were the victimization of workers due to the stoppage of development work and the breach of promises made in the January 29 budget. The Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP) led by Dinesh Gunewardena and the National Freedom Front (NFF) led by Wimal Weerawansa and several trade unions will participate in this rally.
Earlier, President Maithripala Sirisena called on SLFP and the UPFA members to hold a united May Day rally in a show of solidarity. But his appeal has gone unheeded. Meanwhile, the United National Party (UNP) will hold its rally at Campbell Park in Borella with the participation of its main trade union, the Jathika Sevaka Sangamaya and several youth and women’s movements.
A spokesman said the UNP MAY Day parade and rally would be on a simple note with no state resources such as CTB buses being used to transport people for the rally. Private buses used would be on a voluntary basis. Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) spokesman Vijitha Herath said the party would hold its rally at the Burgher Recreation Club ( BRC) Grounds in Colombo. The march would start at the S. Mahinda Vidyalaya in Dehiwala around noon.
Mr. Herath said the party’s people power rally would focus on choosing the right candidate for the upcoming parliamentary elections. Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader R. Sampanthan said the alliance usually rotated its celebrations between the north and east. This year it would be held in Trincomalee.
The Democratic People’s Front leader by Mano Ganeshan said his party would hold its rally at Jampettah Street and the theme would be devolution of power and national unity.
The Nava Sama Samaja Party (NSSP) would hold its meeting at Gunasinghepura bus stand premises in the Pettah with the main resolution being for a pay increase of Rs. 15,000 for workers, its leader Wickramabahu Karunaratne said.