A day after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s warning to the Opposition not to push the government on Easter Sunday terror attacks in 2019 as it enjoyed the parliamentary majority needed to enact laws to punish the culprits,
Former President Maithripala Sirisena warned the government in Parliament yesterday (25) that the 2/3 majority of the latter in Parliament is wielded by the 14 MPs representing the SLFP.
In response to Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage’s claims, He recalled the Sri Lankan political history about how former governments collapsed due to withdrawals of some members.
Since 1948, all the governments needed the support of other parties. Lalith Athulathmudali and Gamini Dissanayake resigned from the then UNP government and that party never recovered after that. Same thing happened during the tenure of Former President Chandruika Kumaratunga. In 2014, I resigned from the government due to fair concerns and contested the Presidential Election as the common candidate. It was the end of that government, he pointed out.
Therefore, it is better to act in a wise and responsible manner regarding the government’s 2/3 majority in Parliament. It should be remembered that the 2/3 majority is wielded by the 14 MPs representing the SLFP. So, it should be very clear what will happen if someone wants to fight. This is a coalition government. People need to learn from history, he warned.
This verbal confrontation occurred when Sirisena responded to Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthagamage’s recent claims regarding expenditures made by Sirisena during his Presidency.
“First, Aluthgamage said that I amalgamated three houses to build my official residence. I challenged him to prove it and said I will resign from the parliament seat, if the accusation is correct. He did not say anything about it after.”
Sirisena criticized Aluthgamage, alleging that it cannot accept a minister of the government carrying out ‘mudslinging’ against another government’s member.
“I am saddened to see this happen again and again. During the Committee Stage debate on the President’s Expenditure, Head Aluthgamage again accused me of using 200 vehicles during my presidency. This is a blatant lie. He tried to paint me as a president who wasted money while saying that the current president saves money. This is just wrong.”
He also requested leaders of the government not to let the same thing happen in the future again.
“Aluthgamage made very impulsive and sensitive speech. He even said that he is ready for any fight. Well, we do not want to fight. We only pity those who want to fight. But if we want to attack someone, we will not do it in Aluthgamage’s way. We have other methods to do things that others cannot even imagine.”
There is no problem in Aluthagamage praising the current President. The Leader of the House said that same thing. That is fine. But the problem is that he does that by comparing expenditures during my presidency. I do not want to throw stones while living in glass houses, he said.
“I also set up examples compared to the presidents who ruled the country before me. I did not use helicopters like they did. I did not travel like they did. So if they want to fight, then there will be a huge problem. We are ready to fight, but we do not know what kind of casualties would happen.”
Speaking further, Sirisena said that it is okay to build the image of the current President. But people should not attack us while doing so. We are also in the same government with your leader (the president). So there is no problem. I do not want to ‘play boxing’ with anyone. But it does not mean that I am incapable of playing, he added.
He then went on criticizing Aluthgamage severely claiming that the latter is the sole reason for the people’s hate towards the government at the moment.
“He lied to the President, the government, the Cabinet and the people, especially farmers. This is why the people hate this government today. People set scarecrows of government’s leaders on fire today and Aluthgamage’s conduct led to people to do so. You (Aluthgamage) always say that you have some evidence and records against us. Why are you hiding them then? I have decades-long experience in politics. So I know the reason behind such statements,” he stressed.