Sirisena sounds warning to Govt

By Gagani Weerakoon and Methmalie Dissanayake | Published: 2:00 AM Nov 26 2021
News Sirisena sounds warning to Govt

By Gagani Weerakoon and Methmalie Dissanayake

Former President Maithripala Sirisena,in what appears to be a warning, told the Government,in Parliament yesterday (25), not to be overconfident of the 2/3 majority as it is wielded by the 14 SLFP MPs in the House.

In response to Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage’s recent claims on extravagant expenses of former President, Sirisena warned Aluthgamage and other ruling party members, who criticise coalition allies, not to throw stones while living ina glass house. 

He recalled the Sri Lankan political history where former governments collapsed owing to coalition allies withdrawing support.   

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, the same thing happened during the tenure of former President Chandrika 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 thereafter.”

Sirisena criticised Aluthgamage, saying a minister of the government carrying out ‘mudslinging’ campaign against another government member is unacceptable.

“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. 

Speaking after Sirisena, State Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara launched a scathing attack on Aluthgamage. 

“If Aluthagamge said those remarks on one occasion, we can let it pass. But he is repeating the same conduct. We cannot simply let it go when he insults the former president and the leader of the SLFP MPs group. Aluthgamage is like a dancing peacock. He thinks that what he does is great, but it only uncovers his disgraceful behaviour,” the State Minister stressed. 

He said that the former president had spent Rs. 3.5 billion. This money was spent for seven projects on rural area development; eradicating CKDu etc. he only used three vehicles during the Presidency. Former President Sirisena never used 200 vehicles like Aluthagamage said, Jayasekara asserted. 

The situation was triggered, when Aluthagamge responded to Jayasekara later in the day and said that he is ready if the former president wants to confront him. 

“Jayaskera had criticized me earlier when I was out of chambers.  He said that if one digs into my conduct, they would find it horribly stinks. Who accepted cheques from Arjun Aloysius? We can also dig into others' conduct. I only said the incumbent President had set an example by saving a total of Rs 1.7 billion,” Aluthagamage said. 

The former president also said that I was responsible for the criticisms levelled at the government. I am the Minister of Agriculture and I defend the green economy policy. That is my duty, he said. 

Sirisena who responded, again said, 

“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 a glass house, 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 there would be.”

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 criticising 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 fire to effigies of government leaders today and Aluthgamage’s conduct led to people doing 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. 

By Gagani Weerakoon and Methmalie Dissanayake | Published: 2:00 AM Nov 26 2021

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