A heated situation erupted in Parliament when Illankai Tamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK) MP Shanakiyan Rasamanickam yesterday (17), alleged that Leader of the House Dinesh Gunawardena stopped him chairing Parliamentary Sitting and invited SLPP MP Shantha Bandara to preside, when he was invited to the chair by the staff.
Raising a Privilege Matter in the House, Rasmanickam said, when he was invited to chair the Sitting, Gunawardena sent messages to the Secretary General of Parliament asking Bandara to be invited instead of him.
“This is a matter of my privilege. Before you (Shantha Bandara) came to the Chair, a staff member at Serjeant-at-Arms’ Department called me and told me that the Speaker needs to leave his chair and requested me to preside over the Sitting. Following that request, I took the chair.
At that time I saw Gunawardena sending several messages to the Secretary General and then sent a message asking you (Shantha Bandara) to take the chair instead of me. I saw it very clearly. When I inquired, the Secretary General told me ‘Don’t ask me’. I am a member of the Speaker’s panel. I hope Parliament is an independent institution. This is not an SLPP Parliament. All MPs have equal rights.”
If you do not want me to preside over because I speak against the Government and Ranil Wickremesinghe’s ‘deals’, what is the point of this Parliament? I expect an answer from Gunawardena, he said.
However, Gunawardena refused to make a clarification with regard to Rasamanickam’s query.
“Rasamanickam is saying various things. I am not ready to answer his questions. He has to ask that from the Speaker. He needs to learn,” Gunawardena said.
Bandara who is presiding over the Sitting said that both he and Rasamanickam had received the invitation at the same time and he was given the opportunity as his name was mentioned first as a Senior Member of the Committee of Chairpersons
BY Gagani Weerakoon and Methmalie Dissanayake