Though 16 SLFP Cabinet Ministers, State and Deputy Ministers resigned from their portfolios following the voting in favour of the ‘No Confidence Motion’ against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, they would not leave the ‘Yahapalana Government’ immediately, they said today.
Kandy District UPFA Parliamentarian, former Social Empowerment, Welfare and Upcountry Development Minister S.B. Dissanayaka told the media at the SLFP party office that the group decided to leave the ‘Unity Government’ on Wednesday night and inform their decision to President Maithripala Sirisena.
Mr. Dissnayaka said no one in the group intended to leave the government until the SLFP Central Committee (CC) decides their fate. The CC is to meet after the New Year after President Maithripala Sirisena returns from the overseas trip on April 22.
He said not only the 16 who voted for the NCM but all SLFP Ministers who abstained must also resign from their portfolios.
“I don’t think they have a moral right to remain in the government with their portfolios. We all 41 members of the SLFP must stick together as single unit that supports President Sirisena. They must resign from the cabinet and let the UNP to form its own government high-handedly because the Yahapalana Government’ is in tatters now,’ he emphasized.
Mr. Dissanayaka said the 16 SLFP members would support all people friendly and progressive actions of the government and vehemently oppose if and when a policy or project unfriendly comes from the government.
He added that the group of 16 would not join the joint opposition if the CC decides that they should leave the unity government.
“We act as an independent SLFP group in the opposition in Parliament under President Sirisena’s leadership. We never leave him and weaken him,” he stressed.
“We joined the government on the approval of the Central Committee of the SLFP and on the invitation of President Sirisena and therefore we must leave following the same procedure,” he said.
The SLFP joined the ‘Yahapalana Government’ with a mission. All SLFP members who joined the government wanted to fulfil the aspirations of the people. We wanted to put an end to nepotism, financial crimes, restore rule of law, strengthen democratic establishments, provide relief to the people and find answers to allegations levelled against Sri Lanka by the global community. Some of the objectives were achieved with the introduction of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution like pruning excessive powers of the Executive President, establishing Independent Commissions etc. But unfortunately, certain UNP Ministers had other ideas. They started to amass ill lucre using their power, sell state assets and engaging in various misdeeds. A foreigner was appointed to the post of Central Bank Governor disregarding the protests by President Sirisena. The damage and stigma caused from the Central Bank bond scam is history now. The Economic Management Committee was in charge of almost all the major development projects. More than 8 Acts did not go to Parliament for approval as PM’s office did not consent to them. We miserably failed to fulfil the pledges given to the people by President Sirisena and the SLFP. That is why we wanted to bring a NCM against the Prime Minister,” Mr. Dissanayaka stressed.
He added that however, the idea of bringing a NCM against Prime Minister first came from the UNP backbenchers and we had a few discussions with them on the matter. Many of the allegations levelled by UNPers were similar to that of ours. That is why we decided to vote for the NCM. Most of the allegations contained in the NCM were based on the recommendations of the report by the SLFP’s 11 member Parliamentary group led by Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva,’ he said.
The rebellion against Mr. Wickremesinghe intensified within the UNP after the LG polls. However, the country is the ultimate victim of this development. The country cannot go forward with these inter-party and intra-party rivalry, he added.
The question and answer session that ensued at this stag is as follows:
Daily Mirror: If you moved this No Faith Motion with such support from both parties, how it ended a total flop giving a major victory to Prime Minister Wickremesinghe?
Kurunegala District SLFP Parliamentarian Dayasiri Jayasekara: That is the question. There were 22 UNP backbenchers to support the motion.
Daily Mirror: But all assessments changed dramatically on the 4th of April favouring Mr. Wickremesinge.
Mr. Jayasekara: Yes, what the TNA told us on voting day was that they would abstain. We had a long discussion at the residence of UPFA General Secretary and Fisheries and Aquatic resources Development Minister Mahindananda Amaraweera in the morning on the 4th. We were of the view that all were going to vote for the motion and win it.
Daily Mirror: But suddenly all changed. How and why?
Mr. Jayasekara: That is what we also cannot understand. There have been unforeseen or peculiar development that changed the heart of members who were to vote against Mr. Wickremesinghe.
National List SLFP Parliamentarian Dilan Perera: Yes, the change of heart is quite peculiar. There may be things that led to it which we cannot reveal here.
Mr. Jayasekara: I think they will come to open before long.
Journalist: You think all SLFPers must leave the government.
Mr. Jayasekara: Yes indeed. It is not proper for them to keep one leg in the UNP and the other in the SLFP. We in the SLFP have a responsibility towards the people who voted us.
Journalist: Are you against those who are with the government?.
Mr. Jayasekara: If we are to protect the SLFP, we must leave the government.
Mr. Dilan Pererea: Not at all. They are SLFPers and our blood relations. We want to save them from this disaster.
Galle District SLFP Parliamentarian Chandima Weerakkody: We are responsible to our voters. They will curse us if we remained in the unity government any further. They think we are also in cahoots with all wrong doings of the UNP.
Daily Mirror: Do you admit if I say that the NCM was a disaster for the JO and you.
Mr. Perera, Yes, it was a flop because of various unseen developments.
Deputy Speaker Thilanga Sumathipala. Let the UNP form its own government. Let’s see how the UNP is going to introduce a new Constitution and all other Acts they want to enact.
Journalist: Are you still the Deputy Speaker.
Deputy Speaker Sumathipala: Technically yes. My position is decided by members of Parliament. However, I wrote to Speaker Karu Jayasuriya last night about my intentions to resign from the post of Deputy Speaker. The next session in Parliament after the New Year must elect a new Deputy Speaker.
Mr. Perera: The election of a Deputy Speaker will be interesting one. Obviously, the UNP has the support of 122 members in Parliament as we witnessed at the NCM vote. Let’s see how the government is going to elect a Deputy Speaker they want. (Sandun A Jayasekera)