June 10, Colombo: A former minister and parliamentarian of United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) Kumara Welgama says that the rally organized by the UPFA MPs in support of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa in Matara is expected to see around 75 parliamentarians of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) participating in it.
The rally in Matara is scheduled to be held on Friday, June 12 to urge the nomination of the former president as UPFA candidate for Prime Minister.
It will be the fifth in a series of rallies organized by the minor parties of the former ruling party United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) to bring back the former president as the prime ministerial candidate in the next general election.
The rallies were originally organized by the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna led by MP Dinesh Gunawardena, the National Freedom Front led by MP Wimal Weerawansa, the Democratic Left Front led by MP Vasudeva Nanayakkara and the Pivithuru Hela Urumaya of Western Provincial Councilor Udaya Gammanpila.
According to Welgama, the rally in Matara will have the largest number of SLFP MPs who turned up for a pro-Rajapaksa rally.
The last rally held in Kurunegala earlier last month saw the attendance of 55 SLFP MPs according to MP T.B. Ekanayake, who was removed from the SLFP's central committee for violating an order not to attend the Bring Back Mahinda rallies.
The SLFP Central Committee, which is headed by President Maithripala Sirisena, has earlier announced that party would take disciplinary action on party members attending rallies organized by other parties with no prior approval.
President Sirisena recently told the UPFA party leaders that he is opposed to giving nominations for Mahinda Rajapaksa from the UPFA. However, the Rajapaksa camp has suggested that he will contest from another party if he is not given nominations from the UPFA.