B. Muralidhar Reddy

COLOMBO: The former President of Sri Lanka, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, on Friday hit out at the policies of the Mahinda Rajapaksa Government as inimical to the interests of the country and said the newly-formed National Congress led by Ranil Wickremesinghe and Mangala Samaraweera was the need of the hour.

In a letter to Mr. Samaraweera, the rebel Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) leader who was ousted from the Government in February, Ms. Kumaratunga said, “The stated objectives of the Alliance seem to reflect the essential need of the hour. I have believed for a long time that the country’s problems can be solved effectively, only through a Grand Alliance of all honest, patriotic forces.”

On Thursday, United National Party chief Ranil Wickremesinghe and the rebel faction of the SLFP came under the banner of National Congress with a pledge to work on a common programme and share power in the future. As per the arrangement, in the event of the combine capturing power, Mr. Wickremesinghe would be the Prime Minister and Mr. Samaraweera is to be designated as Deputy Prime Minister.

The pact also provides for sharing of ministerial portfolios between the two parties.

In her first elaborate public statement through the letter on the Rajapaksa regime, Ms. Kumaratunga complained that the SLFP had changed several important policies which were followed since 1993 and lead the country to “great, new heights”.

“This is a style, wholly alien to the SLFP.”

She recalled that her Government in 1994 succeeded to a great extent in bringing into the Government or to support the Government, all parties representing the minority groups, and all major parties, except the UNP and the JVP. “I made continued efforts to bring the UNP too, to work with us. So, I am very glad to see that the UNP and an important section of the SLFP, have agreed to work together in a formally constituted Alliance.”

Ms. Kumaratunga said the “strange new policies” that were being implemented with regard to the economy, the Tamil question and rampant corruption would not resolve the prevailing problems in any of these spheres and might even worsen the situation to a point of no return.