By Saman Indrajith
The government parliamentary group, which met, yesterday, was divided between Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Sajith Premadasa, who resigned as the UNP Deputy leader following his defeat at Saturday’s presidential election.
One group objected to Prime Minister’s decision to dissolve Parliament and go for a snap parliamentary election.
Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine Minister Dr Rajitha Senaratne, speaking for Prime Minister Wickremesinghe’s camp, raised three points. He said that the government had no moral right to continue as people had given a clear mandate. The government should respect the mandate the SLPP had received and let that party form a new government.
The government should not resign instead get the consent of Opposition groups to pass a motion in Parliament with a two-thirds majority to dissolve Parliament. He also said that going for an early election would help people to make a decision.
Sajith Premadasa group opposed the proposal and demanded that the ministers resign and let the SLPP form a caretaker government instead. All ministers should resign, they said.
Minister Dr Senaratne pointed out that the way some ministers had resigned was appalling and indicated that there was a clear division in the government.
Minister Gamini Jayawickrama Perera said that six ministers had already resigned and the government should extend an invitation to the SLPP to name six of their senior members to fill those vacancies so that it would be a proper caretaker government.
However, the Premadasa group members rejected the proposal for early elections, pointing out that some new MPs would lose their pensions if they dissolved the government now.
Premadasa group members said Saturday’s defeat was due to Prime Minister Wickremesinghe’s poor performance and accused him of having been supportive of Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
Dr Senaratne pointed out that Prime Minister Wickremesinghe had undertaken to campaign in the North and the East and the people in those provinces had backed Sajith overwhelmingly. But those who had campaigned in the South had failed, Senaratne said.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said that he too thought it was a wise decision to go for an early general election so that the people would get a chance to elect a new government.
Sources said Prime Minister Wickremesinghe contacted Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa over the phone and informed him of the situation and asked whether the latter would be able to get the support of his MPs to pass a motion to dissolve parliament by two third of votes. Opposition Leader Rajapaksa responded that there was no clear plan on the matter. He said that the SLPP group would meet in the parliamentary complex today and make a decision on the matter.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said that once the Opposition Leader informed him of the decision, the next step would be asking Speaker Karu Jayasuriya to summon a meeting of leaders of parties in parliament. The party leaders’ meeting would be held on Wednesday in the parliamentary complex where they would decide a date to summon a special parliament meeting for a motion to be passed.
The Premadasa group opposed the move.
Sources said that the meeting commenced around 2.30 pm and continued till around 4.40 pm at the Committee Room 1 in the parliament complex.