Dayasiri going, going, gone

* Blames Ranil for defection

By Saman Indrajith

UNP Kurunegala District MP Dayasiri Jayasekera yesterday resigned from his parliamentary seat after making a 40-minute special statement in Parliament, where he said that he would lead the UPFA campaign at the North-Western Provincial Council to victory and become its Chief Minister.

As Jayasekera accused the UNP leadership of inaction and being shiftless, Leader of the Opposition Ranil Wickremesinghe remained in his seat listening to accusations.

A large number of government members were present in the House listening to Jayasekera and thumping their desks approving of what he said.

When the House commenced sitting at 1.00 p.m. and during the question time. MP Jayasekera was not present in the Chamber though there were two questions from him on the Order Paper. Chief Opposition Whip John Amaratunga raised those questions on behalf of Jayasekera. After the second day debate on the Electricity (Amendment) Bill commenced, MP Jayasekera arrived in the Chamber and took his seat. Around 2.12 p.m. Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa said that a microphone would be given to MP Jayasekera, who had requested time for a special statement.

While MP Jayasekera was speaking he was disturbed by UNP MPs but he proceeded and pledged that he would become a part of the process of uniting Sri Lanka within the next ten years under the guidance of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Jayasekera said that the incumbent leadership of the UNP was incompetent and the party supporters had suffered for more than 20 years under the current leadership without victory. Whenever MPs raised the issue of the party crisis, they were targeted for hostile action. The current party leadership had extended the term for another six years to stay in power by introducing certain draconian clauses to the party constitution. "We have struggled against the dictatorial leadership from within. Those who have led that struggle have become victims of witch hunts. Some of them have lost their membership, designations and positions. The members have got together and brought in a proposal to remove clauses giving dictatorial powers to the party leader. The leadership increased the number of members to 23 in the Working Committee overnight and defeated their proposal. People are disgusted and disappointed with such conduct and continuous losses. They attacked the party headquarters, Sirikotha."

Now the UNP was talking of winning power in 2022. Party supporters were asked to wait that long to topple the government. The incumbent leadership had removed hundreds of party organisers and local level politicians in the same way as Joseph Stalin purged the Communist Party in Russia. A large number of UNP strongmen had crossed over to the government, he noted.

Jayasekera said: "The UNP leadership is not patriotic. In 2008, when the government troops were waging a successful war against the LTTE, the leadership got some retired colonels to come and brief the party MPs to give the impression that the army was losing the war. We were told that rains would come and the trucks and tanks of military would get stuck in the mud and the advance would come to a standstill so that the LTTE would fire mortars to kill them all. Then the economy would collapse and the government would be defeated as a result. We spoke against this. If any evidence is needed, ask Minister Johnston Fernando, who fought against that anti-national campaign of the party leader.

"S. B. Dissanayake was thrown behind bars for championing the cause of the party. But the party leadership did nothing to secure his release. The leadership thought the more SB remained in prison, the better it would be for the party. We had to bring in a leader for the presidential election. Thus, we brought in General Sarath Fonseka. When he was incarcerated the leadership did likewise. According to the leadership, the General should have remained behind bars so that the party would gain.

"The UNP leadership could not capitalise on issues such as the removal of Shirani Bandaranayake from the post of Chief Justice and the power tariff hike. The trade union wing of the party has collapsed, grassroots organisations cannot be revived. The UNP vote base has suffered severe erosion.

"The party has come down to do what I call voice-cut politics. Whenever a mike is given, we attack the government, but party fails electorally. People today do not blame the government for the ills and for miseries they are faced with, they blame the Opposition.

"The UNP is doomed to lose. Surely it would lose the forthcoming Provincial elections and I vow to steer the government party in the North-Western province to victory.

"The SLFP is where I started politics. My rejoining the SLFP is going back to my ancestral home. I could have crossed over and become a minister easily. But I did not do so. I resign from my seat and go before the people. I know they would elect me the Chief Minister and someday I may come back to Parliament."

Soon after MP Jayasekera ended his speech, Chief Opposition Whip John Amaratunga got up and demanded from the chair that the time spent by Jayasekera should be deducted from the time allocated to the government. MP Jayasekera did not speak on behalf of the Opposition but for the government, therefore the time should be deducted from the government side, he said, adding that MP Harin Fernando should be given time to speak.

Speaker Rajapaksa admitted that it was a reasonable request and permitted Fernando to speak.

At that moment, Housing Minister Wimal Weerawansa, raising a point of order, said that Jayasekera had mentioned the Opposition Leader’s name in the his speech therefore time should be given to Opposition leader to reply.

Opposition Leader got up and said that he would give his reply during the debate. Then, Jayasekera got up to leave the chamber. The government MPs sitting in the Opposition side came forward and shook hands and hugged MP Jayasekera.

Soon after leaving the Chamber Jayasekera arrived at Committee Room 1 in the parliamentary complex to address a special press conference, where he said that 48 local government politicians of the UNP in Kurunegala would switch alliances and join the government with him.

When compared to Ranil Wickremesinghe, none could call President Mahinda Rajapaksa a dictator, he said.

Jayasekera said that he and Matara District UNP MP Buddhika Pathirana had become victims of sexual harassment. They had been overlooked as their sexual orientation was different. He said that the government would not be changed for another ten years and some other MPs would follow him to join the government soon. There were lots of distressed MPs, he said.

Bingiriya Organiser Naleen Bandara had polled the next highest number of preferential votes and the latter would fill the vacancy created by him but Bandara, too, was not happy with the incumbent leadership of the UNP, Jayasekera said.

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