A crisis created by JRJ in 1977 | Daily News

A crisis created by JRJ in 1977

Confused situation with both the Legislature as well as the Executive of the state involved in a political impasse would be resolved according to the President within the next seven days. This assurance by the Head of State has brought some relief to the masses.

Some allege that the crisis was created by President Maithripala Sirisena on October 26, 2018 when he decided to appoint Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister, but if one examines the contemporary political history, it reveals what we have highlighted in the beginning, that he only used provisions in an already constructed device set on September 22, 1977 by JRJ. A Bill was adopted by the then National State Assembly on that day as the Second Constitutional Amendment. Executive power was transferred to the President and JR Jayewardene became the first Executive President of Sri Lanka on Independence Day, February 4, 1978.

Statesman Abraham Lincoln in his world famous Gettysburg Address stated , ‘democracy is by the people, for the people and of the people’ simply validate not only how the power should be used for the rights, welfare and dignity of the people, but in a deadlock, like in the current political mayhem, as the nation continues to be engrossed in a crisis constitutional or otherwise of unprecedented proportion that we have no choice but to seek the People’s help in sorting out matters as best suites them through a general poll.

But the voter must resolve not to vote for candidates who are corrupt, rowdy, and resort to violence inside the hallowed Chamber, some wielding knives; others using chili powder against opponents as the whole world witnessed a couple of weeks ago. Those involved are not fit to represent the sovereignty of the people. We, the voter must use our ballet to make a difference.

The Court of Appeal issued an interim injunction order restraining Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and his Cabinet from functioning until the hearing of the Writ of Quo Warranto filed against them holding office is concluded. The court fixed dates from December 12 to proceed with the hearing of the petition while notice was also issued on the 49-member Cabinet including Prime Minister Rajapaksa to appear before the court on that date. Accordingly, the court granted leave to proceed with the Quo Warranto petition and issued notice on the respondents to appear before the court and give testimonies.

The court concludes:

“An Interim Order is granted against the first respondent functioning as the prime minister...also issuing interim order against the other respondents functioning in their offices.”

A similar situation arose in 2004 when President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga asked her party to form a government in April 2004 following parliamentary elections. A hung parliament or a minority government was the outcome, but she seemed assured of a stable government by the Jathika Hela Urumaya who won nine seats.

If the Parliament is not going to be dissolved, the next government formed under a UNF or UPFA led coalition will have to hang on to a third party’s whim. Yet the UNP with less than 100 members of their own appears keen to form a government with the help of opposition’s TNA and JVP. The UPFA now united with SLPP, too needs a few more coalition partners added on to reach the 113 required to govern with a reasonable degree of comfort. This is not a reality as yet and chances of forming a government are almost non-existent. With their consistent popularity the Rajapaksa led SLPP who even managed to push UNF and SLFP into third place in certain areas at the February Local Government polls are now backing the President to the hilt.

Since there can also be no assurance that SLMC'S seven seats will remain with the UNP, it does leave for a state in which any potential government can be beaten in a no confidence motion by the shifting of the combination and the grouping for the present instability to continue.

What's almost certain now is that both the UNF and UPFA will not be able to form a government. UNF leaders still maintain that they can form a government with the help of 14 or so MPs from the Tamil National Alliance, though the JVP had clearly indicated their unwillingness to support them in forming a government. But this surely is not a representation of reality, and they all know it. The UNF got only 32.4 per cent of the All Island cumulative vote - and the SLPP and UPFA got 44.2 and 13.7 respectively a combined lead that can't easily be defeated at a general election.

UNP’s internal strife

There is a deep penetrative strike at the politically delicate UNF. The UNF has an internal division of two groups. One is the privileged pro-Ranil Wickremesinghe faction encircling hardcore men and Royalist friends of him.

The second camp is the more moderate faction backing Sajith Premadasa. This ginger group was not pleased with the leader's conduct of affairs including the running of Party. The group included UNF members who were suspected of plotting a possible crossover to the Rajapaksa government sometime back.

The Speaker’s biased approach

The constitution clearly says the PM continues to hold office throughout the period during which the Cabinet of ministers continues to function. With the withdrawal of support by Maithri led UPFA, the National status of the government ceased making the jumbo Cabinet illegal.

The Speaker is the uppermost authority in parliament and is anticipated to be absolutely independent and unbiased at all times. Standing orders [A set of rules] is used to manage parliamentary meetings. The Speaker Karu Jayasuriya overlooked the cardinal tenet of impartiality.

The Speaker, though has the power to suspend standing orders if there is an overwhelming support from the MPs present to proceed strictly on urgent matters, did so to please a particular party, to bring in a motion where a five-day notice has to be given: the motion of no confidence was not read and no member knew its contents, let alone have any time for a reasonable debate, and then go for a count of votes quoting a Standing Order that allows him to use ‘Sound’.

Speaker was not in control of the House because of his lack of admiration for the rules of parliament—he didn’t even have an agenda for the two meetings on November 15 and 16.

Karu Jayasuriya repeated the same routine on the next day for the second time, despite the President’s appeal to bring in the motion according to the accepted set procedures and the Standing Orders.

The Judiciary will go down in history as brave man who upheld the rule of law and saved the nation from all types of threats if they return a decision that they genuinely consider is in harmony with the Constitution, rule of law, and democratic norms and sovereignty of the people.

CP de Silva cross-that toppled Sirimavo in 1964

“J R Jayewardene was the master manipulator of all the Parliamentary maneuvers that went to topple the government in 1964”-- Ceylon Observer: December 20, 1964.

This has a close parallel to present debacle. It happened 54 years ago, on 3rd December 1964, during the Throne Speech vote.

A betrayal by C P de Silva, SLFP’s second-in-command, and Minister of Agriculture, Land and Irrigation, and JR Jayewardene and Esmond Wickremesinghe, the uncle and father of Ranil, playing the roles of ‘master manipulator’ got CP and 15 government MPs, including Mahanama Samaraweera, father of Mangala to change loyalties, and defeat the government by just one vote.

Sirimavo was a Senator throughout her tenure. On hearing the bad news she rushed to the House and met some MPs who were tipped to cross over, and was successful in persuading just two of them to remain. Surely she could have won over a few others but she got involved too late causing her democratically elected government to lose by 74 to 73 votes.

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