Shock waves vibrate through Government

Published : 11:00 am  February 12, 2015 | No comments so far |  | 


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All in all, it was believed that the support of 120 MPs could be mustered altogether for this motion during a vote, aimed to ousting Minister Amaratunga over the allegation that he instigated the assault on Wattala Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman, Thyagaratne Alwis.  This is a number large enough to pass this motion during a vote in the House and therefore it sent shock waves through the government.


In the event of the  motion being passed, Mr. Amaratunga   ceases to be a minister, and then it will be a major blow to the kind of cohabitation governance being practiced under the 100-day programme of President Maithripala Sirisena.
President Sirisena heads the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) which sits in Parliament as the main opposition whereas the United National Party (UNP) of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe leads the government.
Having realized the gravity of the political challenge associated with this no confidence motion, the UNP hurriedly announced that    it would press for the dissolution of Parliament in the event of   the defeat of this motion.  Clear signs emerged within political circles that the UNP would apply pressure on the President to dissolve Parliament forthwith for a snap general election in case the opposition wins its no confidence motion. In such an eventuality, the 100-day programme will come a cropper even before the achievement of any fruitful target. Also, it was not to the liking of the President to make way for the development of political animosities across the divide in the House, according to sources close to him.
Likewise, a section of   SLFP members was not in favour of an early election, as they wanted to complete their five years in Parliament by April, primarily to be entitled to pension benefits. Also, some of them are uncertain about their re-election at a snap election because their popularity has reduced in their respective electorates.
The President, after weighing the pros and cons of the prevailing   political undercurrents, instructed Opposition Leader Nimal Siripala de Silva not to proceed with the no -confidence motion as otherwise it would rock the boat at this crossroad. So, the motion is now shelved. Yet, it will be placed on the Order Book of Parliament.
Now, the SLFP seniors are trying to pacify themselves as the President shot down their initiative against the government.    True, the SLFP mooted such an idea of a no-confidence motion against the Minister to mollify its rank and file, distraught due to the perception that the government has done little to contain post-election violence  against them.  Mr. Amaratunga is the minister in charge of the police. So, he is under criticism.

SLFP headed for change

Despite the defeat of    former President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the January 8th Presidential Election,  the SLFP is slated to get a new lease of life and fresh hopes under a novel   political   climate  on February 14.  The party will hold its convention on this day to elect a new set of office bearers barring the chairman post held by the incumbent President. It is learnt that Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne, the trusted confidant of President Sirisena, will be appointed to a key position in the party with the aim of rejuvenating the party for an early electoral victory to be conducted, most probably by the middle of this year.   A national government is to be formed even after this election with a Prime Minister handpicked from the party securing the largest number of seats, and a deputy prime     minister from the party trailing behind next.  The SLFP aspires to play the pivotal role in this national government.
Be that as it may, an early election does not bode well for the SLFP   currently reeling under the January 8th electoral loss.
Therefore, some of the members try to seek the postponement of the planned declaration of the parliamentary election. They come out with various points to validate such a postponement.
Likewise, the SLFP seniors such as Chief Opposition Whip John Seneviratne are now seeking to unite President Sirisena with past leaders Mahinda Rajapaksa and Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga to spearhead the party’s election campaign at a future election.  In this context, the party seniors have decided to make representations to these leaders. Yet, Ms. Kumaratunga is averse to be on the same political platform with Mr. Rajapaksa.  Though the party agrees in toto for   such a unity among its past and present leaders, Ms. Kumaratunga and Mr. Rajapaksa are not ready to see eye-to-eye on this issue.





MR rejects alliance

Alongside, a few alliance partners of the UPFA have mooted the idea of forming a common political movement under the leadership of Mr. Rajapaksa to participate in the next election. These parties, the long standing allies of the UPFA, requested Mr. Rajapaksa who is having a respite from politics, and spending his time mostly at his Medamulana residence in the Hambantota district.  He is reported to have rejected the request to form a political front as an alternative force purely on the basis that it will lead to a split in his SLFP.
“I do not want to commit the sinful act of dividing the SLFP at this moment,” he responded to these party leaders.

But, efforts are underway in various political quarters to woo him to become the prime minister candidate of the UPFA at the next election. A section within the SLFP is also in favour of such an idea. Already,  the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP), National Freedom Front (NFF), Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) and Democratic Left Front (DLF) have decided to conduct a series of public rallies to  garner populist public support to prevail upon Mr. Rajapaksa to make a comeback. They will conduct their first rally in Nugegoda on February 18 under the theme ‘Are you ready for Mahindagamanaya?’ to solicit the public support.
Mahindagamanaya is the terminology   used to refer to the arrival of Arahat Mahinda during the ancient era of King Devanampiyatissa and the advent of Buddhism afterwards.
Yet, it is uncertain at the moment whether this aspiration of such political parties will see the light of day.

MS ready for first state visit.  

President Maithripala Sirisena is slated to visit  India on February 15 on a state visit, and to discuss a slew of bilateral issues. This is the first state visit undertaken by him after ascendency to presidency. The government leaders, including the President and the Prime Minister, had a meeting on Tuesday evening to discuss the visit and the matters to be discussed with the Indian leaders. He will have one-to-one talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Pranab Mukherjee for 45 minutes.
Tuesday’s meeting was meant to discuss the composition of the delegation to visit India.  The President insisted on a small delegation to accompany him. His predecessor, the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, was criticized at that time for undertaking an overseas visit   with large delegations.
“I want to have a small team to accompany me,” he told the meeting.
The Prime Minister also mentioned that former President the late J.R. Jayewardene also used to have small delegations on his foreign visits.
At this moment, Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne opted out of this delegation to make it smaller if necessary. However, the President insisted that Dr. Senaratne should be included in his entourage.  Eventually, the delegation was decided upon. It includes Dr. Senaratne, Power and Energy Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka, Resettlement Minister D.M. Swaminathan and Foreign Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera.
The President’s main engagement will be on February 16 in New Delhi.


China charms new government

Amidst criticism against China –funded projects and the perception that the new government would take an ant-Chinese stance, the Chinese government dispatched its special envoy Liu Jianchao to engage with the new leaders of Sri Lanka.
It is learnt that China’s prime concern was Chinese investments projects implemented in various stages at the moment throughout the country.  Some government leaders even vowed to scrap the Port City project, a huge Chinese investment.  China-funded projects have come under heavy criticism here over the allegations that their costs have been overestimated, making for some corrupt leaders and officials of the previous government to swindle money.
Mr. Jianchao, after his meetings with the Sri Lankan leaders, noted all these projects were executed in conformity with the procedures, rules and regulations stipulated by the government of Sri Lanka.
Also, he said all the projects, initiated in Sri Lanka, would be furthered under the new government after a review in a manner that would not hamper the time tested and time honoured relationship between the two countries.

Three MPs arrive in Parliament in a Black Maria  

After the new government was formed,  three MPs were remanded in connection with their involvement in various cases. They are UPFA MP Premalal Jayasekara, UNP MP Palitha Thewarapperuma and former UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake. Yet, they got the chance to attend the parliamentary sessions during the past few days. They arrived in the parliamentary premises in a Black Maria, escorted by prison guards.

Upon arrival in the parliamentary complex, they were received by their colleagues across the political divide and inquired about their nitty-gritties in jailed life.   Mr. Attanayake lamented with his colleagues on the corridor of Parliament that his prison cell was stinking due to the unhygienic condition of nearby toilets.  Also, he raised concerns about mentally retarded prisoners staying close to his cell.
“I cannot bear  the foul smell. Also, I feared whether some mentally retarded prisoners would harm me physically,” he told his colleagues.
By the time, Mr. Jayasekara, who is in remand prison due to his alleged involvement in the pre-election shooting incident that killed one UNP supporter in the Kahawatte area, walked up to Mr. Attanayake.

“Shall we head home to our prison cells now?” he asked Mr. Attanayake.
John Seneviratne, Namal Rajapaksa appear for Choka Malli
Chief Opposition Whip John Seneviratne and UPFA MP Namal Rajapaksa, the son of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, appeared for MP Premalal Jayasekara as attorneys when the case against him was taken up before the Pelmadulla Magistrate. Mr. Jayasekara, known as Choka Malli, is from the Ratnapura district. Mr. Seneviratne has in fact been asked by the party to give legal assistance to Mr. Jayasekara