By Norman Palihawadane
Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, yesterday, said that the SLFP MPS, including six ministers, who voted for the no-faith motion against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe last week, would cross over to the Opposition when Parliament met again.
Rajapaksa said they would give up their portfolios and join the Opposition on April 19, when Parliament is scheduled to meet next.
“Frantic efforts are being made to keep them within the government ranks. While the UNP backbenchers are demanding the sacking of 16 SLFP ministers who voted against Wickremesinghe, some SLFP leaders try to keep them in the government. But, they will definitely join forces with us.”
The Joint Opposition group has 52 seats in the 225-member parliament.
SLFP Ministers Susil Premajayantha, Dayasiri Jayasekara, Dilan Perera, John Seneviratne, Lakshman Wasantha Perera, Dr Sudarshani Fernandopulle, Tharanath Basnayake, Susantha Punchinilame, Anura Yapa, S B Dissanayake, Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena, Chandima Weerakkody, Anuradha Jayaratne, T. B. Ekanayake and Sumedha Jayasena voted for the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Wickremesinghe for his alleged involvement in treasury bond scams and failure to act promptly to contain ethnic violence in Ampara and Kandy.
With the additional 16 seats the Joint Opposition strength would be increased to 68, parliament sources said.
JO MP Bandula Gunawardena said that they were eagerly waiting to welcome their colleagues.