According to internal government sources, Rajapaksa family members and senior SLPP leaders are exerting pressure on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to remove Industries Minister Wimal Weerawansa from the Cabinet immediately.
This is in the wake of a controversial statement by Minister Weerawansa in an interview with Sunday Lankadeepa where he suggested that the leadership of the SLPP should be handed over to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
The sources further said that the President is facing a serious crisis due to the pressure being exerted against that statement.
Emphasising that the SLPP’s position was that Minister Wimal Weerawansa must withdraw his comment on the SLPP leadership, the party's General Secretary Sagara Kariyawasam at a press conference yesterday (08) demanded an apology from Weerawansa for his statement made to a weekend newspaper.
The media arm of SLPP National Organiser Basil Rajapaksa has already launched a broad campaign against Minister Weerawansa's statement.
The media campaign is centered on how Minister Wimal Weerawansa is engaged in a conspiracy to oust Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa from politics, thereby trying to highlight the Prime Minister's image once again.
In an interview on 'Truth with Chamuditha', SLPP General Secretary Sagara Kariyawasam told journalist Chamuditha Samarawickrama that Minister Wimal Weerawansa is involved in a serious conspiracy while sitting in the government.
The sources further said that the President is facing a serious crisis due to the pressure being exerted against Minister Weerawansa's statement.
"Who is Wimal to oust Mahinda Rajapaksa from the SLPP leadership? Now we realise Wimal is embroiled in a conspiracy to forcibly remove him" - SLPP General Secretary Sagara Kariyawasam said in the press conference.
"I want to tell Wimal that he is not from the SLPP. We will take care of the party. You take care of your own party," he said.
He noted that the Prime Minister has already convened a meeting of the members of the ruling party and that Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa and National Organiser Basil Rajapaksa are extremely disappointed with the statements made by Minister Weerawansa.
"He knew that (the Govt.) wasn't going to handover the Easter Container Terminal to India. Knowing this, he carried out a media circus. He tried to be a hero. He doesn't have a solid vote base. Only 200,000 votes this time," Attorney-at-law Sagara Kariyawasam said, adding that the "6.9 million do not belong to him."
Commenting further, he said:
"There was no contribution from Wimal at the inception of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna. The party was formed by Mahinda and Basil. Wimal was against the formation of a party. If he decides to tread on a seperate political path, he will suffer the same fate as the snake charmer who danced without the snake." - SLPP General Secretary
"No one in the party can coexist with Wimal. Everyone has left him. Only Jayantha is left. If my national list slot is an issue for him, What about Muzammil then? That is a problem for me as well," he said.
"This is an attempt to betray the government's victory," the SLPP General Secretary said, implying that Minister Wimal Weerawansa is conspiring to betray the government.