The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has handed over a motion to the Speaker requesting him not to recognize MP Mahinda Rajapaksa as Leader of the Opposition.
On Tuesday (18), Speaker Karu Jayasuriya officially recognized Rajapaksa as the Leader of the Opposition and Mahinda Amaraweera as the new Chief Opposition Whip.
However, TNA leader R. Sampanthan, addressing the House the following day, declared that there are two Opposition Leaders in the parliament as the Speaker has not removed him from the post.
TNA parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran, in a submission to the Speaker on the post of Leader of the Opposition, states that there is no dispute that the Leader of the political party in Opposition with the most number of seats in parliament ought to be recognized as the Leader of the Opposition.
“However the question that now confronts us is whether the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) is a party in Opposition,” he said.
He states that the UPFA cannot be considered as a party in Opposition since the Leader of the UPFA is the Head of Government and the Head of the Cabinet of Ministers.
In addition he also holds portfolios of Defence, Mahaweli Development and Environment. Presently Maithripala Sirisena holds the Ministries of Law and Order and Media also, the motion said.
“In this context where the chairman of the UPFA is not only the Head of government but also a minister in the Cabinet with at least five ministries under him, the UPFA cannot be considered to be a party in the Opposition.”
He said that three members of the UPFA crossed over to the government ranks recently and that previously another three members did the same. Sumanthiran says that it is probable that more UPFA MPP will be accommodated as State Ministers and Deputy Ministers and that there can also be more cross-overs of UPFA MPP to the government in the coming days.
“In the totality of the circumstances stated above, it is submitted that UPFA can in no way be described as a party in Opposition and consequently no member of the UPFA, in such capacity, can be appointed as the Leader of the Opposition,” the motion said.
In any event Mahinda Rajapaksa and several other MPP have ceases to be members of parliament by operation of Article 99 (13) (a) of the Constitution, it said.
“It is public knowledge that they resigned from Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and obtained membership of Sri Lanka Podujana Party (SLPP).”
“In terms of the Constitution of SLFP and UPFA a person would automatically cease to be a member of the UPFA when he or she ceases to be a member of the SLFP,” it said.
The motion further states that the composition of parliament is a very serious and a fundamental matter.
“Therefore this question needs to be resolved early and until such time Hon. Mahinda Rajapaksa or any other MP who is found to have vacated his seat in parliament should not be recognized as the Leader of the Opposition.”
“For all of the above reasons I request you not to recognize Hon Mahinda Rajapaksa as Leader of the Opposition,” Sumanthiran said.