By Chandani Kirinde
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Government faces a crucial day in Parliament today with the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) likely to lose its majority in the House with both its constituent parties as well as dissident groups within it slated to function as independent MPs.
The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) which has 14 MPs announced yesterday it is leaving the Government and will function as an independent group while the 16 MPs of the 10-party alliance of which former minister Wimal Weerawansa and Udaya Gammanpila are members too will function as a separate group.
The SLPP won 145 seats in the 225 Legislature in the August 2020 parliamentary election but with cross overs by MPs from several other parties, it mustered a 2/3 majority in the House.
While the Government has already lost its 2/3 with the defection of the 10-party alliance and the SLFP, another dissident group within the SLPP are planning to sit independently in Parliament from today. This could see the Government seats fall below 113 depriving it of a simple majority in the House.
Dissident MP Udaya Gammanpila said yesterday that the SLPP Government will lose its majority in Parliament today making it the end of the beginning of this government.
With no let-up in public protests and disintegration of support within his party, the President Rajapaksa met with the SLPP parliamentary group last evening which was attended by 138 MPs .
The President has said he is willing to hand over the Government to any party that commands the support of the majority of members in the House.
Meanwhile the invitation extended by the President to all parties to be a part of a new government was rejected by the main opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), the 10-party alliance as well as the JVP-led National People’s Power Party (NPP) yesterday.
The President in a statement appealed to all parties in parliament to come together to accept ministerial portfolios in order to find solutions to this national crisis as he looked for a way out of the impasse as public opposition to him intensified.