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SLPP backbenchers called on Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa at Temple Trees yesterday (10), urging him to take strict action against Industries Minister Wimal Weerawansa.
 
It is reported that the 46 SLPP backbenchers are loyalists of SLPP national organiser Basil Rajapaksa.
 
At the meeting, Matale district MP Pramitha Bandara Tennekoon has stressed to the Prime Minister that certain statements made by Minister Wimal Weerawansa are causing serious damage to the government.

After showing recordings of Minister Weerawansa's statements on his mobile, SLPP MP Prof. Ranjith Bandara has said that Weerawansa is continuing to issue statements targeting Basil Rajapaksa.

Other backbenchers have also pointed out to the Prime Minister that Minister Weerawansa's statements could show a split within the government and that party supporters are deeply concerned about these actions.

Furthermore, MP Sanjeewa Edirimanne has requested the Prime Minister not to attend ceremonies or events with Minister Weerawansa.

"We called on the President and informed him about this.  He accepted what we said. The President is now aware of Wimal's intentions. But we said that he was the one who protects Minister Wimal. If it continues this way, it would blemish his reputation. Both the government and the party will be doomed," a backbench MP has said.
 
Some MPs have told the Prime Minister that the government will be in serious trouble in the future if Wimal Weerawansa and Udaya Gammanpila are not removed the same way the then government sacked Anura Bandaranaike, Mangala Samaraweera and Sripathi Sooriyarachchi from the ministerial portfolios in 2006.

When the Prime Minister has inquired as to why these issues weren't raised at the meeting of ruling party MPs, SLPP General Secretary Sagara Kariyawasam has said that those groups do not attend such meetings.
 

Warning on Shavendra?

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Following the discussion, it is reported that several MPs have met the Prime Minister personally to issue warnings regarding Army Commander General Shavendra Silva.

'Since something along the lines of what Fonseka did in 2010 is likely to happen in 2024, please remain vigilant. It is 'Gnana Maniyo' who provides assurances to the President on behalf of Shavendra.

Now Minister Wimal's group is also closely interacting with her. You should look into these," a backbench MP had implored the Premier.

 
Basil - Wimal clash

Meanwhile, the cold war between SLPP founder Basil Rajapaksa and Minister Wimal Weerawansa first surfaced when the government decided to handover a stake of the East Container Terminal (ECT) to an Indian company.

The proposal to allow foreign investment to develop the ECT was made with the intervention of Basil Rajapaksa. However, it was Minister Wimal Weerawansa who immediately mobilised pro-government nationalist groups to protest against the move to allow foreign investment in the development of the ECT. Accordingly, the government succumbed to the pressure by these groups and trade unions and scrapped the ECT deal.

However, the internal crisis in the government was exacerbated over issues pertaining to its potential candidate for the 2024 presidential election after the President had declared that he had no intention of contesting the next presidential election.
 
'Basil is the next presidential candidate' - Anura

Meanwhile, JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake said that Basil Rajapaksa will represent the government as its next presidential candidate. Dissanayake expressed these views while speaking at a rally recently.
 
Dissanayake said that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has already informed party leaders of the ruling coalition that he will not contest the next presidential election.

Therefore, the President has asked them to find a suitable candidate who can get the support of minority parties for the presidential election, he said.