Colombo, Feb 9: Sri Lanka's former president Mahinda Rajapaksa's political allies want him to lead the party in the parliamentary elections. "We want him back to lead us in the parliamentary election," Vasudeva Nanayakkara, the former minister of national integration, told reporters today.
"He is the only leader of national acceptance we have," Nanayakkara said.
President Maithripala Sirisena dethroned Rajapaksa after a bitter presidential poll on January 9. Rajapaksa, 69, has shunned politics since his defeat despite demands from supporters to make a comeback. He conceded the leadership of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party to Sirisena but still remains as the leader of the former ruling coalition United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA).
"He has the backing of 5.8 million voters," said Wimal Weerawansa, the leader of National Freedom Front and a staunch Rajapaksa ally.
He has the backing of 5.8 million voters: Weerawansa
"The hero is much alive. He is resting in his country home," said Udaya Gammanpila, another Rajapaksa ally. The new government is to call elections for parliament after April 23.
Rajapaksa's allies believe that his popularity among the Sinhala majority would be enough to see him return as the Prime Minister. He won more Sinhala votes in the election than Sirisena who won overwhelming support from the Tamil and Muslim minorities.
If returned to power, Rajapaksa would be the first former President to make a comeback. He had allowed himself to run a third time by lifting the two term bar which clamped predecessors.