By Skandha Gunasekara
The much-anticipated NoConfidence motion against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, the third such NoConfidence motion against a premier in Parliament history, was handed over to Speaker Karu Jayasuriya yesterday by former President and Kurunegala District MP Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The former President, along with a group of Joint Opposition MPs, submitted the motion – containing14 allegations against the Premier – tothe Speaker around 2:30p.m. last afternoon.
The motion was signed by 51 Joint Opposition MPs and four SLFP MPs, including three Government Ministers.
State Minister of Lands T.B. Ekanayake, Deputy Minister of Public Management and Administration Susantha Punchi Nilame, Deputy Minister of Ports and Shipping Nishantha Muthuhettigama and MP Cader Masthan were the SLFPers who had signed the motion.
The Joint Opposition signatories are MPs Dinesh Gunawardena, Chamal Rajapaksa, Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Wimal Weerawansa, Udaya Gammanpila, Dullas Alahapperuma, Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, Salinda Dissanayake, Ranjith de Zoysa, Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Shehan Semasinghe, Janaka Wakkumbura, Kanaka Herath, Tharaka Balasuriya, Indika Anuruddha, Wimalaweera Dissanayake, Bandula Gunawardena, Chandrasiri Gajadheera, DV Chanaka, Namal Rajapaksa, Rohitha Abeygunawardena, Sisira Jayakody, PiyalNishantha de Silva, Premalal Jayasekera, Vidura Wickremanayake, C.B. Ratnayake, Ramesh Pathirana, Jayantha Samaraweera, Gamini Lokuge, Prasanna Ranathunga, Pavithra Wannniarachchi, Johnston Fernando, S.C. Muthukumarana, Lohan Ratwatte, Thenuka Widanagama, Dilum Amunugama, Keheliya Rambukwella, KanchanaWijesekera, Dulip Wijesekera, Prasanna Ranaweera, Sanath Nishantha, Arundika Fernando, Kumara Welgama, PiyankaraJayaratne, Janaka Bandara Thennakoon, SM Chandrasena, Padma Udayashantha, Mohan P. De Silva, Niroshan Premaratne, Nimal Lanza and Vijitha Berugoda.
However, former President Rajapaksa and UPFA MPs Siripala Gamlath and Roshan Ranasinghe have not signed the NoConfidence motion.
In addition, Parliament sources revealed that a small group of MPs, a clique aligned with Basil Rajapaksa including Nimal Lanza, Prasanna Ranatunga, Ramesh Pathirana and Kumara Welgama – who had opposed the motion and objected to signing it on Monday – had been convinced by the remainder of the JO MPs to sign the motion. Nevertheless, none of them were present when the motion was handed over to the Speaker.
Accordingly, the motion accuses the Premier of bringing the Finance Ministry under his purview to carry out the Central Bank bond scam, recommending appointing Arjun Mahendran as the Governor of the Central Bank, being directly involved in the bond scam, appointing the Pitapana committee consisting of his associates to exonerate those in the bond scam, misleading Parliament by making false statements regarding the Bond Commission 17 March 2015, violating financial regulations, failure to curb the rising cost of living and failing to contain the recent communal riots as the Minister of Law and Order.
Addressing a press briefing within the Parliament complex soon after submitting the NoConfidence motion, the Joint Opposition claimed that 22 UNPs would support the motion.
“During our discussions with the UNP, three of their MPs pointed out that if they sign the motion, they would face disciplinary action from within their party further, complicating the motion being successfully passed. Therefore we decided that they would refrain from signing the motion,” Joint Opposition MP Udaya Gammanpila said, adding that the 22 UNPers pledged to voice their approval of the No Confidence during the debate and to cast their vote in favour.
Meanwhile, Joint Opposition Parliamentary group leader MP Dinesh Gunawardana said that the JO had urged the Speaker to take up the motion in Parliament at the earliest.
“We pointed out to the Speaker that a NoConfidence motion against a Prime Minister was far more significant than other such motions and requested that it be taken up for debate as soon as possible.”
According to Parliamentary sources, this was the 47th instance of a No Confidence motion and the third No Confidence motion against a prime minister in the history of Parliament – thefirst being brought against former Prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike in 1957 and Sirimavo Bandaranaike in 1975. The motion against S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike received one vote in favour and 45 against while the vote on Sirimavo Bandaranaike’s motion saw 43 votes favouring the motion while 100 voted in opposition.