The opposition against Minister Rishad Bathiudeen and the support to keep him in power underscore the fact that Sri Lanka is a nation which is confused about what’s right and wrong.
The allegations that Bathiudeen offered political patronage to those involved in the Easter Sunday bombings is yet to be proven. But opposition forces in parliament demand the removal of the portfolios he holds as the minister of Industry and Commerce, Resettlement of Protracted Displaces Persons and Co-operative Development and Vocational Training.
A debate to fix a date to move the no-confidence motion was not decided at the time of writing this editorial. But the issue has not only given enough impetus to opposition forces in parliament to throttle the government, it has also caused ripples in the political scene in so many fronts.
To begin with, this government has made it known that they are accustomed to no-confident motions and they’d take it in their stride. There are allegations that individuals serving in Bathiudeen’s staff have been arrested regarding the recent Extremist militant activities; claims which the minister refutes stating that he never employed people of such calibre.
The United National Front Government banks on Bathiudeen’s Muslim votes and those of the Christians MPs in parliament and those of the Tamils representing the Tamil National Alliance (TNA). But the TNA has called for Bathiudeen’s resignation and it is speculated that the Christian votes within parliament would also go in favour of the no-confidence motion which is being moved by the United People Freedom Alliance (UPFA).
But Bathiudeen in branded as someone who has a soft corner for extremist forces; hence the minority forces who grouped together at the 2015 Presidential Elections to bring President Sirisena into power are likely to get divided in this issue.
If these allegations against Bathiudeen are proven it would be hard for the government to survive because the regime would be minus his support then.
Bathiudeen like Namal Kumara, the Director of the Anti-Corruption Force, shares a similarity. Both believe in forging alliances with those who wield power; Bathiudeen with the Wickremesinghe Government and Kumara with the President Sirisena.
"But Bathiudeen in branded as someone who has a soft corner for extremist forces; hence the minority forces who grouped together at the 2015 Presidential Elections to bring President Sirisena into power are likely to get divided in this issue."
But Bathiudeen is a bit smarter. He sided with the Rajapaksa regime for ten full years and then switched alliance to form the Yahapalana Government in 2015 at a time when citizens were screaming for a regime change. Early this year he was entrusted with duties of another ministry; Vocational Training and Skills Development. This man knows how to make progress in the political sphere.
If Kumara has been working towards the interest of just the President and his own survival, Bathiudeen spread his ambitious net far and wide. Bathiudeen has resettled scores of Muslim IDPs along the Wilpattu National Park.
But there is a side which Bathiudeen is blind to or doesn’t seem to care much about. His critics have pointed out that his alleged links with the Muslim extremists have made the outside world very concerned about Sri Lanka. This is a slur on this MP who also heads a key minority party; All Ceylon Makkal Congress. What comprehensive effort has he taken to clear his name from these allegations other than state a mere denial?
Has the UNF led regime ordered a probe into the allegations against Bathiudeen?
However Bathiudeen wants to wash his hands off the alleged claims made against him for having links with the Extremists.
The Argentine Seminar of the International Financial Action Force has plans to include Sri Lanka in a blacklist which includes countries that have failed to stop the flow of finances to terrorist organisations. Other trickle down effects of the activities of these Muslim extremists are China and India requesting from the government to provide security for their own projects here.
It is yet to be seen what fate awaits the no-faith motion against Bathiudeen.