SLFP Sacks Rambukwella as Party Organiser for Kundasale
The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) has sacked Keheliya Rambukwella, MP (Kandy District) from his position as party’s organizer for the Kundasale seat in the Kandy District. He was a prominent minister in the former Mahinda Rajapaksa administration holding the portfolio of Mass Media and Information and acted as the chief spokesman for the government.
Kundasale with about 95,000 registered voters (9.5% of the Kandy District vote of 1.0m.) is one of the 13 Parliamentary constituencies in the Kandy District. The constituency has a Sinhalese majority.
Mr. Rambukwella who is a hotelier by profession and has also dabbled in film production, has a colorful if volatile
poltical history. His poltical mentor was Gamini Dissanayaka, a senior UNP minister in the J R Jayewardene administration (1977-89) and best remembered as the man who executed the massive Mahaweli development project. Rambukwella joined Dissanayaka when the latter split with the UNP president R. Premadasa in 1990 and formed, in alliance with another senior UNP politico Lalith Athulathmudali, the Democratic United National Front (DUNF). Following President Premadasa’s assassination in May 1993 Rambukwella joined the UNP following his mentor Dissanayaka. Rambukwellla contested the parliamentary elections of October 2000 from the Kandy District n the UNP ticket and won a seat polling 154,403 preference votes district-wide. He retained the seat in December 2001 election polling 143,235 votes, again in April 2004 (110,720). He crossed over to the SLFP in 2006 and secured a cabinet portfolio under President Rajapaksa. In April 2010 he was again returned to parliament securing 133,060 preference votes.
In the run up to the parliamentary elections in August of 2015 he made an abortive bid to seek nomination from the UNP. He contested the election as a member of Rajapaksa’s United People Freedom Alliance (UPFA-SLFP) and won a seat polling 65,687. However, in that election the UPFA polled only 26,637 (39.1%) as against UNP’s 37,355 (54.8%) of the vote in Kundasale that Rambukwella was responsible for as the party organizer.
In February 2012 he received a lot of media publicity for falling off a third floor hotel room balcony in Melbourne and injuring himself.
Central Provincial Council Health Minister Sunil Kithsiri Amaratunga has replaced Rambukwella as the SLFP organizer of the Kundasale seat.