A majority of the United National Party (UNP) Working Committee members believe that the Democratic National front (DNF),
which is being spearheaded by Minister Rajitha Senaratne with the blessings of UNP Leader, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe would result in the UNP’s power being dissolved.
However, 13 UNP parliamentarians have decided to support Wickremesinghe’s move.
A heated debate took place at the UNP Working Committee meeting on Thursday (1) over the draft Constitution of the proposed DNF.
In the midst of the objections raised by a majority of UNP Working Committee members, Wickremesinghe had asked those in favour of the formation of a political alliance to raise their hands. All the members have said they were agreeable to forming an alliance.
A majority of the members have then said their issue was with the contents of the draft Constitution of the DNF.
However, 13 UNP MPs have raised their hands and extended their support to the draft Constitution.
The 13 parliamentarians are Ravi Karunanayake, Navin Dissanayake, Lakshman Kiriella, John Seneviratne, Sagala Ratnayake, Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, Vajira Abeywardena, Sarath Fonseka, Tilak Marapana, Sirinal de Mel, K.K. Piyadasa, D.M. Swaminathan and Kavinda Jayawardena.
Apart from them, members appointed to the Working Committee by Wickremesinghe, Nissanka Nanayakkara, Lasantha Gunawardena, Mahinda Haradas, Jeyaraj Chandrasekera, Shamal Senarath, Sunethra Ranasinghe, Nilame Tennakoon and Sunil de Silva have also voted in support of the draft Constitution.
The UNP Leader had then concluded the meeting asking members who have objections and concerns about the draft Constitution of the proposed DNF to hand them over to the party Chairman in writing.
Wickremesinghe has also not given a favourable response to a request by Minister Sujeewa Senasinghe to convene another Working Committee meeting within the next few days to reach a consensus on the contentious contents of the DNF’s draft Constitution.
Minister Navin Dissanayake has then said that the proposed alliance will be formed on the 5th regardless of the objections raised by party members.
Out of the 68 Working Committee members, 49 had attended Thursday’s meeting and only 21 members had voted in favour of DNF’s draft Constitution.
Seeking approval without showing the Constitution
After convening the Working Committee meeting, party leader Wickremesinghe had informed the members that the meeting was called to receive approval for the formation of the proposed DNF on Monday (5).
Minister Senasinghe had said that the members of the Committee had not seen a draft of the DNF’s Constitution and had seen several documents claiming to be the Constitution that was published on several social media outlets. He had said that the members needed to know the contents of the Constitution and had requested the Prime Minister to make available several copies of the draft Constitution before the Committee grants approval.
Wickremesinghe had then tried to read the contents of the draft Constitution without handing around copies of the draft. Senasinghe had objected once again.
“Don’t behave in this manner sir. You come after us when there’s a no confidence motion against you and now you don’t give us a copy of the Constitution of an alliance that the party is going to sign in to. A parliamentarian receives a copy of a bill several weeks before it is presented to parliament. That is done to get the views and opinions of the parliamentarians. This now is a conspiracy and we don’t want to be part of it,” Senasinghe had claimed.
Minister Ajith P. Perera had also agreed with Senasinghe and about 45 minutes after objections were raised over the failure to circulate copies of the DNF’s draft Constitution, Wickremesinghe had gotten copies to be distributed among Working Committee members.
Blame on Jayamapthy
After studying the draft Constitution, Senasinghe had said, “Sir, I’m a lawyer, please tell me who drafted a Constitution of this nature that betrays our party?”
Wickremesinghe had responded saying the document was drafted by MP Jayampathy Wickremaratne.
Then 20 MPs including Sajith Premadasa, Kabir Hashim, Mangala Samaraweera, Malik Samarawickrema, Ranjith Madduma Bandara, Ajith P. Perera, Sujeewa Senasinghe, Chandrani Bandara, Eran Wickremaratne, Nalin Bandara, Dilip Vedarachchi, A. Wijetunge, Harsha de Silva, Daya Gamage, Gamini Jayawickrema Perera, Vasantha Senanayake, Ravindra Samaraweera, Thalatha Atukorale, Imthiaz Bakeer Markar and Ruwan Wijewardena have said the draft Constitution undermined the powers vested with the UNP MPs and Working Committee.
They have said it was important to announce the candidate before forming an alliance of this nature.
Five other MPs, Gayantha Karunathileka, Niroshan Perera, Edward Gunasekera, Sydney Jayaratne, Thusitha Wijemanne have endorsed the statements made about the candidate.
Apart from MPs Sarath Fonseka and party secretary Akila Viraj Kariyawasam the others who voted in favour of the draft Constitution have remained silent without speaking in favour of the proposed alliance document.