New political alignments in the offing after Ravi K. debacle

10 August 2017 01:38 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Although government politicians, both UNP and UPFA, asked Mr. Karunanayake to relinquish office rather than get axed through a parliamentary process, it is learnt he has refused to resign   

The no confidence motion against Foreign Affairs Minister Ravi Karunanayake that placed the government in a quandary, is now poised to set the stage for new political alignments in Parliament sooner or later. Yet, the complexion of possible political formation will be determined by the reaction of Minister Karunanayake who is implicated in a serious situation at the moment.   

  • It triggered a confused state of affairs in the national unity government.
  • Referring to Section 9 of the Act, the government took up the position that the proceedings of the Presidential Commission amounts to a judicial inquiry

The no faith motion, bearing the signatures of 32 MPs of the Joint Opposition or the Mahinda Rajapaksa faction of the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), has left the government in a spot.

It transpires that Arjun Aloysius, accused of the Central Bank bond scam, paid the rent of the penthouse leased by Minister Karunanayake  

It transpires that Arjun Aloysius, accused of the Central Bank bond scam, paid the rent of the penthouse leased by Minister Karunanayake. The allegation is so grave it made it impossible even for the UPFA in government and some UNP MPs, to defend him if a vote of no confidence against the minister is brought up in Parliament. In fact, some MPs of the United National Party (UNP) met with party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and said they were not ready to defend Minister Karunanayake in the event of the no confidence motion being debated and put to vote in Parliament.   

It triggered a confused state of affairs in the national unity government. If the motion is moved for debate in the House, it will create a split in the government. The UPFA MPs will vote for the motion while some UNPers will at least be absent during the vote giving the edge for the movers of the debate.   

This situation will amount to a political fragmentation which is bound to have ripple effects later posing a danger to the stability of the government in its future activities. To avoid that, the government has to block the no confidence motion being taken up in the House. The problem does not end with that, though. If the minister is retained, the government will be brought to further disrepute in the eyes of people.It will also be a difficult case for the legislators of the ruling side to justify before the electorate. All in all, the government is caught between the devil and the deep blue sea on the issue.   

Mindful of this predicament, government politicians, both from the UNP and the UPFA, asked Mr. Karunanayake to relinquish office rather than face the axe through a parliamentary process, humiliating the entire government. However, it is learnt from reliable political sources that Mr. Karunanayake has refused to resign from his position. That means the government has to avoid the no confidence motion.   

The Business Committee of Parliament met with Speaker Karu Jayasuriya to decide on it on Tuesday in the political whirlpools developing in government.   

The government , in its desperation to thwart the motion, found a legal point in the Commission of Inquiry Act. Referring to Section 9 of the Act, the government took up the position that the proceedings of the Presidential Commission amounts to a judicial inquiry. Therefore, it argued that the matters that transpired before the Presidential Commission cannot be debated at all in the House. The government is counting on this legal point to avoid a debate to extract itself from the current political turbulence.   

The Speaker is supposed to rule on it today after consulting the Attorney General on the legal status of the matter.Whether it is debated or not, it has created rifts within the government. With corruption charges hanging over his head, the SLFP and a UNP section will be averse to the presence of Minister Karunanayake in the government,   

The government hot on corruption sought a mandate to weed out corruption in all its manifestation. It accused the previous government of wrongdoing, but today, it is also afflicted with the issue of corruption.   

In fact, ministers representing the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), met with President Sirisena as the party leader on Tuesday night and discussed, among other matters the issue related to Mr. Karunanayake. They asked the President to sack the minister. They also decided to make representations to the Prime Minister with the same request.   

President keeps the ball rolling 

It is President Maithripala Sirisena who kept the ball rolling in this respect by appointing a Presidential Commission. It keeps rolling even now, but nobody knows when it will stop.   

Moves underway for new political alignments 

In the meantime, attempts are being made in political circles towards new political alignments. In one instance, the Joint Opposition, acting under the leadership of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, is working in luring SLFPers in the government. Already, a sizeable number have made up their minds to throw their weight behind the Joint Opposition whenever the signal is given.   

Alongside, it is learnt that President Maithripala Sirisena is also trying to win over some UNPers. Concurrently, some SLFPers contemplate joining hands with the Prime Minister. It is likely that the end result in new political alignments may spring many surprises.   

After the adjournment of Parliament during the last parliamentary week as a result of a commotion, the Joint Opposition staged a mock Parliament. In fact, an MP occupied the seat of the Speaker. The quorum bell was also rung.   

At Tuesday’s Business Committee meeting chaired by the Speaker, the government insisted on action against such members for what it called ‘errant conduct’ in the House.   

However, Joint Opposition’s parliamentary group leader Dinesh Gunawardane protested action being initiated against his members.     

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