Opposition joins the Government...:
'A bizarre coalition'
developments that saw the Government last week reneging on its promise
to limit the Cabinet to 30 - bloating it to a near mammoth 77 - has
blurred the line between the Government and the Opposition, giving rise
to a slew of questions about the direction in which the body politics of
this country is heading. While the secretive nature of the decision to
expand the Cabinet has many asking what happened to pledges of good
governance, the fact that the Cabinet was expanded to provide portfolios
to SLFP members, many of them vociferous detractors of the Government,
has many dubbing the development a ‘coalition most bizarre’ and wonder,
“What happens next”.
Nimal Siripala de Silva
Political analysts are at cross-roads as to what direction the
country is moving in following the Government's decision to give
ministerial portfolios SLFPers which has also given rise to questions
about, the legitimacy of a SLFP Leader functioning as Leader of the
Critics had a field-day pointing out the absurdity of the current
political order in the country, when the Government cannot be
distinguished from the Opposition. The concept of National Government as
flaunted by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is stoutly contested by
Dinesh, Vasu and Wimal troika. They call the National Government of
Ranil Wickremesinghe a loose arrangement to thwart the rising discontent
among SLFP seniors.
Some sections of the SLFP condemn the decision by their own
colleagues to accept portfolios at the cost of the party's future. The
TNA and SLMC continue to remain in the political cauldron with its
reservations on Government moves. The JVP alleges that the people's
aspirations have been shattered by this coalition government as it goes
against the people's mandate. True to style, a full-fledged National
Government should be representatives of at least important political
A cross section of the politicians interviewed by the Sunday Observer
expressed divergent views on the National Government concept.
Cabinet Spokesman and Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne said this
it was the first time in the history of the SLFP that a decision was
taken at the last Central Committee Meeting and Group Meeting to form a
national government and that has taken place now. Other parties need not
worry. They too could join the Government. Otherwise, they can stay in
TNA parliamentary Group
During our election campaign, we categorically stated that after
President Maithripala Sirisena's victory at the January 8 election, he
will not only change the presidency but also change the political
culture in the country. That new political culture is emerging now.
JVP Parliamentarian Vijitha Herath: This is a coalition government,
not a national government. Both the Government and main Opposition UPFA
MPs have jointly shared ministerial portfolios. People's aspiration have
been shattered by this coalition government. Actually, this goes against
the people's mandate. People voted to abolish the Executive Presidency
and bring democratic reform. What happened under the coalition
government is that the questionable characters of previous UPFA
Government sneaked into the National Unity Government under 'Yaha
Palanaya' to get portfolios. This is an attempt made to safeguard
wrongdoers of the previous regime and the people will never approve this
This is the collapse of good governance and we will never call this a
national government. This is an unusual coalition. This kind of
coalitions was never formed during this country's entire political
We have heard about the seven -party coalition. But this is a bizarre
coalition. Because one section of the SLFP is with the Government while
the others are in the Opposition.
A group of SLFP MPs are with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa,
another faction is with President Maithripala Sirisena while still
others are in the Opposition. Now the SLFP is split in three. Under
these circumstances, Opposition Leader Nimal Siripala de Silva has no
right whatsoever to hold that portfolio. There can't be a 'set up
Opposition' or a 'set up Government'. Nimal Siripala de Silva has no
legal and moral right to hold that office. It is the responsibility of
the Speaker to look into this situation and appoint a suitable person as
Opposition Leader who has the confidence of all Opposition political
JVP parliamentarian Wijitha
SLMC Secretary General and State Health Minister M.T. Hasen Ali
described the national government as a welcome move. In fact, we had
already constituted a national government in the Eastern Provincial
Council with the UNP, UPFA, SLMC and TNA. So a similar thing has taken
place within the Central Government.
It is only a national government which can find a lasting solution
for the complicated situation prevailing in the country.
Now the mindset of all communities and parties are changing. We can
witness lot of changes in the political arena. We have a government
without an opposition. I think, we are heading towards achieving a
lasting solution for all the problems that had been prevailing over
decades in this country. We have similar elements everywhere who
criticise the formation of this national government concept. Most of
them are minority parties. The next election will decide their fate.
They are shouting because of the power they wielded from the previous
election about five years before.
That political situation does not prevail in the country and the
people have also changed. If they go before the people with this
mindset, they will not be reelected.
Definitely there will be more crossovers from main Opposition UPFA to
Deputy Minister of Irrigation Lalith Dissanayake said President
Maithripala Sirisena as the Chairman of the SLFP requested all SLFP MPs
to extend support to the Hundred Day Program. All SLFP Parliamentarians
decided to extend their support to the Government's interim budget and
Hundred Day Program. The President also requested the main Opposition
UPFA to join the Government and assist the people without resorting to
the traditional role of an Opposition.
That is why we decided to join the national government and get
portfolios. A certain amount of work has to be fulfilled by the
Government within the stipulated time frame
of Hundred Days such as pruning certain powers of the Executive
Presidency and introducing electoral reform. We have not given up our
party and joined hands with the Government or another political party.
There are many trying to be SLFPers more than the SLFPers themselves.
We are the true owners of the SLFP. When the JVP unleashed terror and
killed our members, we contested the 1989 election. We were the real
beasts of burden until Mahinda Rajapaksa lost the Presidential Election.
I even sacrificed my portfolio to
Tissa Attanayake. That is how we have worked for the party. We are
not anybody's cat's paw. We are true SLFPers. Our party chairman
requested us to join hands with the Government.
At present there is a good response for the Hundred Day Program.
People have endorsed the decision taken by us. At present the people are
clamouring to restore good governance, change the electoral system and
prune the executive powers of the President. We all should move towards
achieving that goal.
TNA Parliamentarian Suresh Premachandran said that he doesn't
understand the what a national government means as it is now. It is
obvious the UNPand the SLFP along with a few minority parties have
formed a government.
But various other political parties represented in parliament are
also outside this National Government.
If the Government passes the 19th Amendment, that would be most
welcome. If they also can solve the Tamil national problem, that would
be great. We see major parties getting together to sort out issues as a
positive development. We call upon them to provide a lasting solution to
Sri Lanka's national problem. As far as the Opposition Leader is
concerned, it should be given to the Opposition political party which
has the true majority in Parliament.
Earlier this was held by Ranil Wickremesinghe. Now a new government
has been formed with SLFP and UNP members.
The SLFP is no more in the Opposition. Opposition Leader Nimal
Siripala de Silva can't say the SLFP represents the Government and the
As a democratic country, the TNA deserves to get the post of
Opposition Leader .If the TNA cannot be given this, what is the meaning
What is wrong if TNA Parliamentary Group Leader R.Sampanthan becomes
the Opposition Leader?
UNP Media Spokesman and Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam
said that the UNP along with few other political parties accomplished
the major task of brining President Maithripala Sirisena to power.
President during his election campaign categorically stated that he
would form a national government after the election. The President gave
his consent for the SLFP to join the government and also offered
portfolios to SLFP parliamentarians. The Government would go for a
General Election shortly and the UNP would contest separately.
Even if the UNP secures a majority of seats at the election, its
intention is to form a national government in collaboration with the
SLFP and other political parties in Parliament.
UPFA parliamentarian T.B. Ekanayake said Prime Minister Ranil
Wickremesinghe has stated that his intention was to convert parliament
into a government.
However, the people have not given a mandate to do so. Steps to be
taken in this regard should be discussed within the SLFP and the UPFA.
One section of the Government says that Parliament will be be
dissolved in April 23 while others say it would be postponed.
If everyone is joining the government, there is no need for an
Opposition. But the question is 'Who has given such approval to resort
to such a move'?
It should be clarified whether this is a decision taken by the
President or the National Executive Council. A majority of voters are
needed to prune executive powers of the President, bring electoral
reform and constitutional reform.
The UNP alone has no ability to effect these changes and they have to
muster the support of the SLFP and other political parties. The UPFA
Parliamentary Group Meeting should be summoned immediately to discuss
National Freedom Front Leader MP Wimal Weerawansa categorically
rejected the claim of a national government concept and said this is a
complicated coalition government. If this is a national government, it
should have a national requirement to fulfill.
When the war was waged and during the tsunami catastrophe, there was
a national requirement.
What is the national requirement which prevails today? After
President Maithripala Sirisena won the Presidential Election with the
help of the UNP, TNA and SLMC votes, the SLFP was hijacked by giving
some portfolios to some SLFP members. The people are waiting to give
them the response they deserve at the next General Election.
Today the SLFP has also become a partner of this coalition
Government. The SLFP has no right to further retain Nimal Siripala de
Silva as the Opposition Leader.
Those who genuinely represent the Opposition should be provided the
opportunity to select a suitable Opposition Leader.
JHU National Organiser and Western Provincial Councilor Nishantha Sri
Warnasinghe said that the JHU saw the national government as a welcome
The President has categorically mentioned in his manifesto that he
would form a national government and an all party Cabinet after the
election. During the past few months, there was a UNP Government, not a
However, the President could transform this into a national
government by offering certain portfolios to the SLFP as well.
The President in his election manifesto has spelt out the objective
of forming a national government. It would pave the way to prune the
powers of the Executive President, set up independent commissions and
change the electoral system. To fulfill these objectives, there should
be a consensus among the two major parties.
Pix: Courtesy: Internet