by Shamindra Ferdinando
One of the rebel SLFP North Central Provincial Councillors, Susil Gunaratne, has switched his allegiance to President Maithripala Sirisena within hours of signing an affidavit requesting the immediate removal of Chief Minister S. M. Peshala Jayaratne Bandara, a staunch Sirisena loyalist.
The rebel group comprising 17 members loyal to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa demanded CM be replaced with S.M. Ranjith, who had recently given up transport, sports, youth affairs, cooperative, trade and Food and industrial development portfolios in protest against President Maithripala Sirisena dismissing Minister K.H. Nandasena.
President Maithripala Sirisena has rewarded Susil Gunaratne with portfolios previously held by Ranjith soon after directing Governor P. B. Dissanayake not to accept affidavits furnished by the rebel group.
Former External Affairs Minister and top Joint Opposition spokesman Prof. G.L. Peiris yesterday quoted Governor Dissanayake as having told the rebel group that he was directed not to accept affidavits.
Addressing the media at Punchi Borella, Prof. Peiris emphasized that only one person could have given that order. Prof. Peiris strongly condemned what he called ridiculous attempt to deprive the majority of their right to name the CM.
The NCPC comprises 33 members with 22 elected on the UPFA ticket.
Alleging that an appalling bid was being made to win over dissidents by offering them perks and privileges, Prof. Peiris questioned the circumstances under which Susil Gunaratne accepted portfolios.
The cabinet of a Provincial Council consists of five persons, including the Chief Minister.
Prof. Peiris lashed out at those trying to save incumbent NCPC administration through devious means.
The SLFP was making a foolish attempt to remain in control knowing well the NCPC would be automatically dissolved in three months to pave the way for the election, Prof. Peiris pointed out. The former minister said that the JO would go it alone at simultaneous PC polls in North Central, Eastern and Sabaragamuwa provinces.
Prof. Peiris alleged that those who had been struggling to hold onto to power would do anything to counter mounting challenge.
He however acknowledged that they were surprised by Susil Gunaratne’s move.
Commenting on what he called despicable move to deprive UPFA Galle District MP Geetha Kumarasinghe of her seat, Prof. Peiris expressed concern over the role played by the Attorney General in the yahapalana plot.
Prof. Peiris pointed out that Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, Secretary General of Parliament W.E.D. Dasanayake as well as UPFA General Secretary Mahinda Amaraweera had been in undue haste to have Piyasena Gamage appointed in place of Mrs Kumarasinghe following the Court of Appeal disqualifying her on the basis of she being a dual citizen at the time of receiving nomination to contest the Aug 2015 general elections.
Prof. Peiris alleged that Dasanayake had informed the National Election Commission (NEC) of Mrs Kumarasinghe losing her seat.
Prof. Peiris said that as the Speaker had claimed that the Secretary General had informed the National Election Commission (NEC) on the basis of advice received from the AG, the actress turned politician could have lost her seat if not for the Supreme Court which suspended the process pending hearing of the petition.
The JO official said that the Speaker and the Secretary General made their move in spite of delegation of members of parliament informing them that Mrs Kumarasinghe would appeal against the Court of Appeal ruling in accordance with constitutional provisions. As an MP she could appeal within 42 days, Prof. Peiris said, adding that the abortive move against the MP exposed those working for a political agenda. The Speaker shouldn’t engage in politics at the expense of members of parliament, Prof. Peiris said urging the AG not to be influenced by political factors.
Those elected on the UPFA ticket shouldn’t be harassed for being loyal to war winning President, Prof. Peiris said. The yahapalana government should make an effort to bring relief to those struggling to make ends meet instead of going after political opponents, he said.