ECONOMYNEXT – The no-confidence motion moved against Sri Lanka’s energy minister by the Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) on Tuesday (20) backfired on the opposition, ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) MP Dilan Perera said.
“This motion, which was an attempt to fish in what was presumed to be troubled waters – in the belief that there were factions forming in the government – ended up boomeranging on the opposition itself,” Perera told reporters Wednesday (21).
The government comfortably and convincingly defeated the motion Tuesday evening, with 61 MPs voting in favour of and 152 against.
“Opposition members, within the House itself, ended up pointing fingers at each other. As [United National Party MP] Ranil Wickremesinghe said, it was the opposition’s inability that was exposed by this move,” he added.
Perera was referring to a remark by Wickremesinghe in parliament yesterday that though he would vote in favour of the no-faith motion against Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila, he believed the opposition should instead be voting against all cabinet ministers.
Main opposition SJB MP S M Marikkar moved the no-confidence motion against Gammanipla Monday (19) morning over the latter’s role in the recent, highly controversial fuel price hike.
An amendment proposed by Wickremesinghe that the motion include the entire cabinet was rejected by Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena Tuesday morning, prompting the former to the motion had resulted in bringing government MPs together.
“Now all the minsters have united. The government is collectively ready to show its strength,” he said.
The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP)-led National People’s Power (NPP), too, voted in favour of the motion but against its better judgement. NPP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake told parliament that the motion was politically unsound. NPP MP Dr Harini Amarasuriya told EconomyNext on Tuesday that the move had given increasingly disillusioned government MPs a rallying cry.
At Wednesday’s SLPP media briefing, MP Perera said that it was the opposition that lost whatever confidence it had commanded.
“So who failed?” he said.
Not opting to lick its wounds, the SJB took to the streets.
Speaking at a protest in Divulapitiya on Wednesday, SJB and opposition leader Sajith Premadasa accused two thirds of Sri Lanka’s parliament voting in favour of the fuel price hike.
“Yesterday, two thirds of parliament – all of them government MPs – said it’s fine to increase fuel prices,” he said.
SJB MP Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka echoed his leader’s sentiment.
“The government raised their hand yesterday to defeat the pulse of the people. The people will make their judgement known when the time comes,” he said.
Asked why some opposition MPs were absent during the vote, Fonseka said only MP Harin Fernando, who he said is unwell, was not present.
“Everyone else was there,” he said.
Fonseka further said all parties in the opposition who voted with the SJB will stand with the party in any election to defeat the government, including the next presidential polls.
“Except maybe Ranil Wickremesinghe,” he added.
SJB MP Hesha Withana told a press conference the same day all “patriotic political forces” in the country will rally behind Premadasa’s leadership. Withana scoffed at a reporter’s suggestion of a Wickremesinghe candidacy, quoting in response a line from the popular Sinhala song ‘heena thibunata kotiiyak’ (‘to have ten million dreams without a cent in hand’).
Meanwhile, Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) leader Kumar Gunaratnam said his party plans to hold talks with the JVP, the Tamil National Alliance, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) which is still part of the ruling coalition, the Lanka Samasamaja Party and the communist party in the coming days.
Gunaratnam told reporters Wednesday that the Rajapaksa administration has adopted a foreign policy that is “dragging Sri Lanka to a conflict between regional powers”, with a deep economic crisis to boot.
The Rajapaksa administration is following a foreign policy that is dragging Sri Lanka to a conflict between regional powers. A pro China policy has been adopted in a way that will add to the tensions between India and China.
“Against this political and socioeconomic backdrop, politics in Sri Lanka has reached a decisive juncture. The status quo has to change,” he said. (Colombo/Jul21/2021)