With 19A in place, sky’s the limit for next Cabinet - JVP

Amendment crafted to help MS form a national govt. after August 17


By Shamindra Ferdinando

JVP heavyweight K. D. Lal Kantha yesterday alleged that the 19 Amendment to the Constitution had been designed to pave the way for a national government at the conclusion of the August 17 parliamentary polls.

Colombo District JVP candidate Lal Kantha pointed out that there had never been a previous instance of the Constitution facilitating shaping of a National Government at the expense of what he called democratically elected Opposition.

The JVPer was responding to a query by The Island in the wake of former President and UPFA prime ministerial nominee Mahinda Rajapaksa declaring that the Opposition coalition wouldn’t accept a national government. Expressing confidence in securing the largest block of seats at the forthcoming poll, Rajapaksa underscored the absurdity in those opposed to a national government during the war seeking such an arrangement six years after the conclusion of the conflict.

Lal Kantha asserted that the electorate wasn’t really aware that specific provisions in the 19 Amendment had been designed to help President Maithripala Sirisena achieve his project. Before the passage of the 19 Amendment, the party with the largest block of seats had the privilege of securing the backing of required number of Opposition members to form government, the JVPer said. However, the 19 Amendment had constitutionally empowered the President to go for a National Government, Lal Kantha said. Responding to a query, the JVPer said that the specific provision relating to the establishment of the next cabinet was nothing but an extremely powerful inducement to those awaiting an opportunity to switch allegiance to the winning party following the next election.

Referring to a statement attributed to Nimal Punchihewa, Secretary to Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) that nothing could be done about crossovers in yesterday’s issue of The Island, Lal Kantha alleged that 19 Amendment had failed to address the contentious issue of crossovers. Instead of stopping the despicable practice, the 19 Amendment constitutionally empowered the victors at the next general election to engineer crossovers.

In fact, 19 Amendment restricted the number of cabinet ministers as well as deputy ministers in the next government to 30 and 40, respectively, in case one party secured the required number of seats to form an administration while providing constitutional cover for unlimited number of ministers and deputies in case the next party opted for a National Government, the JVP front liner said. Lak Kantha said that as19 Amendment had empowered the next parliament to determine the number of ministers and deputies, the country could expect the next administration to go for the largest ever cabinet. "Sky’s the limit," Lal Kantha said, the electorate seemed totally unaware of the machinations of those spearheading the strategy.

Those successful UPFA candidates at the August 17 general election, would join Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government on the invitation of President Maithripala Sirisena, the JVPer claimed. Like they declared a few months back, they would assert they couldn’t be faulted for accepting President Maithripala Sirisena’s invitation extended to them in his capacity as the leader of the SLFP, Lal Kantha said. The four-party Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the JVP and Mahinda Rajapaksa loyalists would remain in the Opposition, Lal Kantha said, urging the electorate to be mindful when exercising franchise.

The previous government engineered large scale crossovers since 2005 presidential election but the next round carried out by the Maithripala Sirisena-Wickremesinghe combination would be at a new level Lal Kantha.

He predicted a stampede to join the next administration.

Parliament meets on September 1 after the conclusion of the August 17 poll.

The JVPer insisted that both the UNP and the SLFP opposed tangible measures to block crossovers on the pretext of strengthening the hands of those in power as they always kept that option as viable means to secure the required number of members.

Asked whether the JVP, too, would join the government on the invitation of President Maithripala Sirisena, Lal Kantha said that they wouldn’t betray those who exercised franchise in support of the party.

Lal Kantha said that President Maithripala Sirisena would adopt a strategy very much similar to that allowed him to run 100-day project in spite of having a minority government at his command.

Although, the ground situation had been discussed at a series of meetings addressed by him in various parts of the country, the electorate largely remained unaware of the impending controversy for want of adequate media coverage, Lal Kantha said.

Responding to a query by The Island, President Maithripala Sirisena’s former Constitutional Affairs advisor Dr Jayampathy Wickremaratne said that the provisions regarding the National Government were applicable exclusively for the next general election.

Dr Wickremaratne gave up presidential post after securing a UNP National List slot.

In his capacity as presidential advisor, Dr Wickremaratne told The Island that the President could even choose an elected member representing the party not having the largest block of seats at the next general election as the next Prime Minister. The academician was responding to a query raised at a media conference held at the Information Department several weeks back.


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