Science and Technology Minister and JHU General Secretary Patali Champika Ranawaka today said he and Western Provincial Council Minister Udaya Gammanpila would resign from their ministerial positions and remain as JHU representatives of the UPFA.
At a special news conference in Colombo, former Minister Ranawaka said the party Central Committee had on Monday unanimously decided that the JHU members should resign from government portfolios.
Earlier on Monday JHU Chairman Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thera resigned from the Chairmanship of the Divulapitiya Divisional Development Committee which comes under the purview of the Economic Development Ministry.
Though the members had given up their government portfolios, the JHU would continue to function as a part of the United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA).
“Whatever decisions we take in the future will be based on JHU principles and policies and will not be directed by UPFA directives,” he said.
The former minister said the JHU was compelled to take this decision because the UPFA Government and the incumbent President had failed to fulfill the promises given to the people.
“The Mahinda Rajapaksa manifestoes at the 2005 and the 2010 presidential elections had pledged to prune the powers of the executive presidency, but this had not happened so far. The failures during the first term of the presidency could be justified because of the war situation in the country but there was adequate opportunity to fulfill the promises at least during the second term,” he said.
The former minister said the JHU pledged its allegiance to the President based on several conditions including the reduction in the powers of the executive presidency and that the party had recently submitted a set of proposals under 35 points with the objective of building a better country.
The proposals included a president who was answerable to parliament, an independent judiciary and a cabinet comprising 20 to 25 ministers were among the JHU proposals submitted to the Government.
“The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) response to the JHU proposals is not satisfactory. The powers of the executive presidency must be reduced if we are to support the Government,” the former minister said.
He said the Government’s development projects and plans were not durable and accused some bureaucrats of influencing the decisions taken by the government in a negative manner.
The former minister said the party had not taken any hasty decision to join the opposition or to support a common candidate but said the JHU was prepared to discuss its proposals with any political party that wished to do so.
“We invite others to come and join us,” he said.
While extending good wishes to President Mahinda Rajapaksa on his birthday, JHU Leader Ven. Omalpe Sobitha Thera said the crucial decision of the JHU was a birthday present to the President.
“The JHU as a sincere friend of the President brought him a birthday present. We hope the President will be enlightened with the foresight,” the Thera said.
He said only a best friend will praise the good deeds and point out the wrongdoings of a person.
“King Mahasen is being worshipped even today as a deity because he accepted the opinion of the people. We like to remind President Rajapaksa that we are not his rivals or are challenging him. We are only showing him the right path as friends,” he said.
Party Chairman Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thera said they might have to face difficulties in the wake of the decision taken yesterday but pointed out that they had nothing to fear.
“As Buddhist monks, we have overcome the fear of death. We have nothing to fear now. We are trying to save the President from the possible danger he might fall into. No matter how good a person is there is always the chance of becoming power hungry when appointed as executive president,” he said.
Meanwhile, JHU Assistant General Secretary Udaya Gammanpila said it was unlikely that the President will prune the powers of the executive presidency in the future.
“The President didn’t reduce the powers of the executive presidency though he said he would in his manifestos. Therefore a sensible person should not believe that it would happen the next time,” he said.