JO’s harebrained demands | Daily News

JO’s harebrained demands

The Joint Opposition, these days, are laying down fantastic demands, if it is to join the mainstream SLFP, to contest the Local Government poll. In doing so, it certainly is punching above its weight. It began with the demand for the SLFP to quit the government, if the JO is to give any thought to the possibility of an alliance with it’s estranged colleagues.

The pohotttuwites argued that the SLFP had tainted itself by being in alliance with the UNP. Besides, the policies of the UNP was diametrically opposed to that of the SLFP, in that the Greens were bent on selling national assets ,and, that, they of the JO, too, would have to face public opprobrium, if it joined the SLFP, under the circumstances. The UNP was also in the process of enacting a new constitution, to grant federalism to the minority Tamils, and, pave the way for separation, or, so, the argument went.

What is most interesting is that this latter line of thinking was being ardently pursued by Prof. G. L. Peiris, who, together with the late Neelan Thriruchelvam, were the architects of a draft constitution, which was federal, in all but name, where the country was to be divided into separate regions. It is the self same G. L. Peiris, who led the Sri Lankan delegation to the world capitals for ‘peace talks,’ with members of the LTTE, that included top Tigers from the Tamil Diaspora, on whose behalf, Peiris and his fellow travelers, in the JO, claim the new constitution was being drafted.

The members of the JO, who are demanding that the SLFP ditch the UNP, for a possible realignment of forces, are obviously living in optimism. They fail to realise that the UNP commands the majority, in parliament, with 107 members, and, is, the dominant partner in the Yahapalanaya government.

This demand presupposes a scenario that the SLFP-JO combine will be able to muster another 20 members to make up the magical number of 113, in order to command a simple majority, to form a government (The SLFP /JO has 93 MPs).Or why make the SLFP leave the government, and, both parties remain the Opposition?

Could this ever be in the realms of possibility? Are those in the JO, who put forward this demand, taken leave of their senses, to even remotely entertain the idea that President Maithripala Sirisena, who is essentially a village product imbued with village mores ,and, upbringing, that includes an inbred sense of gratitude, would kick the ladder that helped him scale the heights of the Presidency? Have they overlooked the fact that the President, even if he is amenable to this suggestion, cannot dissolve the present parliament until it completes four and half years, and, that, fresh elections are out of the question? In any event, will the President go for a General Election, with Rajapaksa leading the way, after once queering his pitch for the premiership?

The JO, meanwhile, has gone a step further, and, demanded that the SLFP partners in the Yahapalanaya government, vote against the budget, at the final vote, as the latest condition for joining forces. At a meeting held at the Parliament Complex, on Tuesday, presided over by Rajapaksa, it was resolved to call on the SLFP to show it really meant business, and, cast it’s vote against the budget. Gamini Lokuge, one time UNP strongman, and, now, faithful Rajapaksa acolyte, held the view that it was pointless holding interminable discussions, unless a real commitment was made by the SLFP, to sever links with it’s alliance partner, and, the budget vote would be as good an opportunity, as any, to demonstrate this commitment.

What is the whole point in voting against the budget, which only needs a simple majority to pass muster? The status quo will remain the same. On the contrary, the UNP will be able to demonstrate, that, it has the advantage of the numbers, and, will have a point to prove. On the other hand, how will the SLFP ministers, in the government, vote against the budget which contain the expenditure Heads of their ministries? Will it be morally right for these SLFP ministers to vote against the budget, and, yet enjoy the largess offered by their own ministry budgets, without demur? Will not this be a charade and badly expose these SLFP ministers to their electors? Can one conceive of these SLFP ministers falling into the trap set by their JO colleagues?

It would have been different had Lokuge and his ilk, in the JO, went the whole hog, and, taken steps to DEFEAT the budget. That would have rendered not only the expenditure Heads of the President and Prime Minister inoperative but also cut off Mahinda Rajapaksa from the equation, since all former Presidents’ expenditure come under the vote of President Sirisena. This would, also, have shown Rajapaksa, in better light, for foregoing his share of the cake. 


 

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