Ex-finance minister Basil Rajapaksa Arrives in Colombo from USA to a Warm welcome; party members and MPs line up to greet SLPP National organizer with some bowing down before him;leaves Katunayake Airport in Convoy with Police Jeep and Motor Cycle Escort

By Buddhika Samaraweera

Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) Founder and National Organiser Basil Rajapaksa yesterday (20) returned to the island to a warm welcome by several SLPP MPs and members at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) in Katunayake.

SLPP MPs, including Johnston Fernando, Gamini Lokuge, Pavithra Wanniarachchi, Rohitha Abeygunawardena, Sanath Nishantha Perera, Piyal Nishantha de Silva, and Thenuka Vidanagamage, as well as more than 50 SLPP supporters had gathered at the BIA in Katunayake to welcome Rajapaksa, who arrived in Sri Lanka at around 8.30 a.m. yesterday on the Emirates Airlines flight EK 650.

Rajapaksa resigned as an MP in June 2022 and subsequently left for the US, as according to him, he had accomplished his two primary objectives – to face corruption and fraud-related cases filed against him; and to return incumbent MP Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was defeated at the 2015 Presidential Election, to a high post in the country.

Rajapaksa, who had returned to the country with his wife, Pushpa Rajapaksa, was seen staying at the airport premises longer than required yesterday. Those who had gathered at the BIA to welcome him, including the aforesaid MPs and SLPP supporters, were seen standing in line and greeting him, some of whom were observed bowing down to greet him and engaging in friendly conversation. Shortly afterwards, several vehicles, including the vehicle carrying the Rajapaksa couple, left the BIA premises under the protection of a police motorcycle and a jeep.

Speaking to the media at that time, Perera said that SLPP Founder and National Organiser Rajapaksa’s return to the country was “a great strength” for the party, which he said was able to win all three elections in a very short period of time, namely the Local Government election, the Presidential election, and the Parliamentary election. Stating that Rajapaksa’s duty as the SLPP National Organiser is to promote the party and its future affairs, Perera said: “It is he who knows his plan. He just arrived in the country, didn’t he? So we were not able to inquire about his plan.”
When queried about the fact that the MPs representing the SLPP have now split into several groups, he said: “There are a very limited number of MPs who have declared that they have left us officially. Such an official declaration will even result in them losing their Parliamentary seats. An MP has the ability to act independently, but they will need the Rajapaksas (a reference to the family of former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and incumbent MP Mahinda Rajapaksa) and the SLPP to go to the village and contest elections again.”

Furthermore, speaking to the media yesterday, Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Colombo District MP Mujibur Rahman said that it was not SLPP MPs or supporters who should have been at the airport to welcome Rajapaksa, but Police and Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officials instead, adding that Rajapaksa should be arrested for destroying the country’s economy and pushing the people into a serious crisis during the latter’s tenure as Minister of Finance.

“As soon as he lands at the BIA, the Police and CID officers should arrest him for committing such crimes against the people. We know that it will not happen as long as Ranil Wickremesinghe is President. We know about the understanding between them. That is a different story, but the brains of those who went to the BIA with garlands to welcome Rajapaksa, who took the leadership of the programme to destroy the future of the country, the people and the youth should be examined.” he stated.

Claiming that some SLPP senior members are currently asking for ten Cabinet ministerial posts, Rahman said that Rajapaksa may have returned to the country to facilitate the appointment of said number of Ministers, or to unite the SLPP, which is currently divided into different parts. He also said that with Rajapaksa’s arrival, the divisions in the SLPP will deepen, and new crises will inevitably arise in the Government.

Meanwhile, while addressing a media briefing yesterday, SJB MP J.C. Alawathuwala also insisted that legal action should be taken against Rajapaksa, who, he said, was the reason for Sri Lanka becoming a bankrupt nation, followed by former Secretary to the President Dr. P.B. Jayasundara, former Secretary to the Finance Ministry S.R. Attygalle, and former Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) Governor Ajith Nivard Cabral. He also said that the SJB will continue to ask President Wickremesinghe to enforce the law against Rajapaksa and others.

“We clearly ask the President to enforce the law against these people who have caused this damage to this country. We see that Rajapaksa is exerting some pressure on the President to raise the Cabinet of Ministers. This is done in a background where 38 State Ministers have been appointed in addition to the Cabinet Ministers. Wickremesinghe became the President by the vote of SLPP MPs. Therefore, Rajapaksa’s plan is to use it to provide ministerial posts to his party members. However, we request Wickremesinghe to enforce the law against Rajapaksa; that is the hope of the people of the country.” he added.

Announcing his decision to resign from the SLPP National List Parliamentary seat, Rajapaksa said in June 2022 that he took no responsibility for the present economic crisis, but placed the blame squarely on all, including the media and those who voted the then-Government into power.

Courtesy:The Morning