A section of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) backed the move to bring the no confidence motion in the hope of unseating Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. The Prime Minister survived the motion with the support of his party men and the main opposition Tamil National Alliance (TNA). Be that as it may, the SLFP is now in disarray due to consequences of the motion.
- SLFP now embroiled in political turmoil
- Anura Yapa, Dayasiri, SB want to leave Govt.
- 16 members who voted for NCM in dilemma
- SLFP, as a party was on the wane politically - Dayasiri
- SLFP should stick to Govt. to fulfil January 8, 2015 mandate
President Maithripala Sirisena spelled out that a team of SLFPers, adamant on leaving the unity government, worked hand in hand with the Joint Opposition and a faction of the United National Party (UNP) to work out the no faith motion.
“I only asked them to muster the required number if possible and get back to me,” he said.
True to his word, actually 16 SLFP Ministers voted for the motion, but another 25 members of the party were absent during voting. The UNP team finally backtracked from their previous position and voted against the motion enabling Mr. Wickremesinghe to tide over the crisis.
The Prime Minister survived the motion with the support of his party men and the main opposition Tamil National Alliance (TNA). Be that as it may, the SLFP is now in disarray due to consequences of the motion
But, the SLFP is now embroiled in political turmoil, widening the already existing chasm within the party. One group of the SLFP has functioned in Parliament under the banner of the Joint Opposition right from the beginning. Now, the faction, serving in the government is also afflicted with division since 16 members who voted for the no confidence motion, try to sit in the opposition whereas the others argue otherwise.
The SLFP Central Committee, authorized to take vital party decisions such as whether to stay with the government, converged on Monday night at the residence of President Sirisena to discuss the current predicament and the way forward.
First, the committee discussed logistics for May Day celebrations to be conducted on May 7 instead of May 1, this year because of the annual Vesak festival falling in between.
Anura Yapa, Dayasiri, SB want to leave Govt.
Afterwards, Disaster Management Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa opened his mouth. He said the party took a policy decision to vote against the no faith motion, and he, along with 15 others, acted accordingly.
He said it was not appropriate for him and others to stay with a government that they sought to unseat.
“We should leave this government forthwith,” he said.
Social Empowerment, Welfare and Kandyan Development Minister S.B. Dissanayake endorsed his views and stressed that it was time to quit the government.
After him, Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara got on his feet and started airing out his views. He detailed the political developments that took place after the defeat of the local authorities election on February 10, 2018.
“After the elections, we took up the position that we can no longer serve under the current PM. Instead, we asked for the appointment of someone from the UNP as PM by unseating Ranil Wickremesinghe. It did not work. Then, we said we would work for the appointment of Transport Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva. In the aftermath of such developments, we voted for this motion. Now we have to leave,” he said.
Mr. Jayasekara said the SLFP, as a party, was on the wane politically under the current circumstances and action should be taken without delay for its resuscitation.
Though it is a unity government, he said the UNP acted in its own without consulting the SLFP.
“The unity government does not mean the endorsement of what the UNP does. There were three budgets. We were consulted on two occasions in preparation of them. But, our views were incorporated. For one budget, we were not consulted at all. The PM even sought the enactment of certain legislations without consulting us. We cannot proceed like this,” he said.
Former Minister Athauda Seneviratne, who is politically close to former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga [CBK], frowned on Mr. Jayasekara’s viewpoints. Trying to argue that the SLFP should stay with the government at this juncture, he made a scathing attack on the Joint Opposition calling it ‘a thieving lot with racial ideas’.
CBK draws flak from President
Ms. Kumaratunga, who appeared at the Central Committee meeting after a prolonged absence, was critical of the move by some members to break ranks with the government. She said the SLFP should stick to the government in line with the mandate given at the Presidential Elections conducted on January 8, 2015.
She said the people voted for a certain movement at that election, but not for an individual. After her remarks, she left the meeting place.
In her absence, she drew fiery criticism from the President. Firing a salvo at her, the President said the person whose leadership for such a movement got the candidature.
CBK appeared at the CC meeting after a prolonged absence, was critical of the move by some members to break ranks with the govt. She said SLFP should stick to the govt in line with the mandate given at 2015 Presidential Elections
“Otherwise, they could have fielded someone from the UNP and won. They could not do so. Why?” he asked.
Despite many deliberations, the SLFP could not reconcile their differences. It, in fact, became a daunting task for the party. The only decision taken was to boycott the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday till the two factions reached a common understanding.
In all probability, the SLFP is headed for a major split in the government ranks. It is due to the fact that those wanting leave the government refuse to budge an inch from their position.