NCM and its fallout | Daily News
NCM and its fallout

NCM and its fallout

In yesterday's editorial we commented that the No-Confidence Motion brought against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was a blessing in disguise for the UNP. Judging by the turn of events, post NCM, this could well be the case.

With sixteen ministers and state ministers from the SLFP faction of the unity government voting in favour of the NCM, the doors have been open for the UNP, which is the dominant partner, to clean up the Augean stables.

Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne is adamant that these ministers and MPs leave the government so that their positions could be filled from the UNP. The minister, of course, is justified in his demand. Having voted against their own Prime Minister (whether they like it or not) they have no moral right to hold onto their ministerial portfolios anymore. Besides, these ministers are known critics of the government, while enjoying all perks and privileges of ministerial office. They have been criticizing Cabinet decisions and policy decisions continuously. These criticisms, from within, no doubt, played a not insignificant part in the outcome of the LG polls.

They have also being playing footsie with the Rajapaksa camp. Susil Premajayantha, in particular, had been a vociferous critic of the government, and, the Prime Minister from the very inception, while Dayasiri Jayasekera who presided over Cabinet news briefings as co-Cabinet Spokesman was next seen at SLFP media conferences tearing the government apart. These ministers, who had been running with the hare and hunting with the hound, can no longer have the best of both worlds. They ought to quit, if they have even a semblance of honour.

But, it appears they are determined to stay put. Speaking to journalists at the parliamentary complex, following the defeat of the NCM, they had the brass to say that although they voted to oust the PM they would still remain ministers, since it was the prerogative of the President to either retain or remove them. Dayasiri Jayasekera said; “Until the President decides we would remain as ministers. This is a unity government where both parties are in the government”.

By implication, Jayasekera, therefore, has conceded that they were still in the unity government although they voted in favour of the NCM. He obviously has overlooked the fact that a UNITY GOVERNMENT means just that. There cannot be factions in a unity government. Now that they have breached this UNITY by declaring their “no confidence” against the leader of the dominant partner in the unity government, their continuation in the Cabinet is untenable.

His colleague, Susil Premajayantha, who recently said that the SLFP ministers who supported the NCM against the PM would relinquish their ministerial portfolios, is now singing a different tune. According to him, the bond issue took place during the period of the government's 100 day programme when they were not ministers. He said; “That scam happened during the 100 day programme. We were not in the government at that time. We joined the government on August 17, 2015. It was because President Maithripala Sirisena decided to form a consensual government that we joined”.

Surely the minister cannot expect any sane person to accept this defense. Premajayantha had served in the Cabinet from August 17, 2015, as he himself admits. The first instance where the alleged bond issue took place was in February 2015. This was followed by the second one in April. Talk about the alleged scam was very much in the news, with MPs such as Bandula Gunawardena making exposure after exposure, during the general election campaign, though it failed to impact on the public. Premajayantha, too, was very much a key player in this ‘great exposure’, but did not hesitate to accept a ministerial portfolio, after the elections.

Thereafter, the bond issue went onto become a hot topic with the Premajayanthas and the Gunawardenas going to town about the extent of losses suffered by the state and those responsible, mentioning even the name of the Prime Minister. A Presidential Commission was appointed and witnesses made to testify, with ministers and the PM summoned before the Commission. During all that time (two and half years) Premajayantha did not have any qualms in serving as a Cabinet minister. Therefore, not been a minister when the ‘scam’ occurred is no defense to continuing as a minister having full knowledge of the alleged scam. There is no justification for Premajayantha to still remain a minister, after all that has transpired (regarding the bond issue)

Be that as it may, Premier Wickremesinghe has vowed to continue with the unity government with what is left of the SLFP, in order to fulfill the January 8 mandate. Such an eventuality will see the composition of the Cabinet stay at 45 ministers. There are 25 SLFP Ministers and state minister who absented themselves during the vote. If they decide to continue, at least some of them will have to be accommodated in the Cabinet, a prospect that would not be to the liking of the UNP MPs.

A new Cabinet is to be sworn-in on Monday. The public can look forward to interesting times ahead, in the country's political firmament.


 

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