Reacting to the election of Government MP Ranjith Siyambalapitiya as Deputy Speaker of Parliament yesterday (5), the main Parliamentary Opposition, the Samagi Jana Balawegeya (SJB), as well as the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), claimed that the MPs formerly of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) Government camp and who now sit independently in Parliament are still secretly supporting President Gotabaya Rajapaksa whilst fooling the public.
SJB and Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa said in Parliament yesterday that the façade of opposition put up by these independent MPs had disappeared.
“During the voting process, the true nature of various people has been revealed to the whole nation. Now everybody sees through the fake message they have been trying to give out through their pretence. Today, Siyambalapitiya has also unfortunately become a protector of this Government. The protestors will take note of this. However, I can say that we are genuinely opposed to the President and the Government,” he said, following the secret ballot that reinstated Siyambalapitiya as the Deputy Speaker.
SJB MP Dr. Harsha de Silva claimed that only the 65 MPs who voted for the Opposition’s candidate, SJB MP Imthiaz Bakeer Markar, are standing with the protestors.
“Today’s deal between President Rajapaksa and the so-called independent group to have 148 MPs support their ‘common candidate’ is clear evidence that only the 65 Opposition MPs are standing with the people and their ‘Go Home Gota’ and ‘Go Home Rajapaksas’ struggle,” he posted on his official Twitter account.
Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi (ITAK) MP M.A. Sumanthiran PC also Tweeted that the SLFP and the ‘Government dissidents’ were “further exposed yesterday”, and claimed that they want the no-confidence motion against the President delayed.
“They want the no-confidence motion against the Government taken up first so that they can then get back their positions under President Gotabaya Rajapaksa again, having fooled the people by showing a ‘change’,” added Sumanthiran.
ITAK MP Shanakiyan Rasamanickam alleged that United National Party Leader MP Ranil Wickremesinghe was also covertly supporting the Government.
“This is a joke that is happening in Parliament. In the morning, we saw former Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe go and ask each person individually whether they support Siyambalapitiya. The SLFP and the SLPP also supported him. Today, only 65 MPs stood with Sri Lanka, while the other 148 were with the Rajapaksas. Whatever no-confidence motion (NCM) is brought in, these liars and thieves will not vote against the Rajapaksas,” he said in Parliament.
SJB MP Mujibur Rahuman warned in Parliament yesterday that the public would one day set fire to the building, as the public’s voice is not represented there.
“We convene in Parliament, but everybody should be ashamed, because we come to Parliament while iron barriers surround Parliament with the Police and Army, in fear of the public. There is no point in such a parliament. The public’s voice – which is why we convene like this – is not represented here. Because of what this Parliament is playing at, the public will one day set fire to Parliament. Nobody knows where the President is, he can’t go to his office. Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa can’t attend events. Ministers can’t go on the roads. There are no solutions to the people’s problems from this Parliament,” he said.
In the Parliament yesterday, Siyambalapitiya’s name for the Deputy Speaker was put forward by the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). The main Parliamentary Opposition SJB had initially indicated they would vote for Siyambalapitiya, but subsequently nominated SJB MP Imthiaz Bakeer Markar.
Premadasa explained the reasons for the sudden change in stance.
“We changed our stance of supporting Siyambalapitiya only when we found out that the SLPP would also be supporting him,” he said, referring to SLPP’s announcement last morning that it would support Siyambalapitiya.
Siyambalapitiya initially tendered his resignation late March, although it was not accepted by the President. He sent in his resignation letter again last month, which was accepted by the President on Wednesday (4). Siyambalapitiya won the vote, securing 148 votes.