Dissident SLPP MP Dayasiri Jayasekera yesterday urged Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to give them an opportunity to join the Committee on Parliamentary Business. Jayasekera said that Uttara Lanka Sabhawa, too, had been barred from those meetings.
“This is a big problem for us. We don’t know what is happening. We are not aware of the decisions made at these committees,” he said. Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa said the Business Committee had agreed to ensure the participation of all Opposition parties at its meeting
“I don’t understand why these parties are not allowed in after we agreed that they, too, should be there. We all agreed to let them in. Allow each party to send one representative. The government can increase their representation in proportion,” he said.
Meanwhile, leader of the house, Minister Susil Premajayantha, told Parliament that when a new Parliament is convened, a gazette on what parties are in Parliament, who are the MPs, etc., is published.
“As far as I know, the leaders of political parties that are in the above-mentioned gazette are recognized as party leaders. However, this has changed. There might be breakaways. When a section of government MPs sit in Opposition, they, too, want recognition as Opposition MPs. I think this is the basis of the requests by the SLFP and Uttara Lanka Sabawa. The Speaker can decide. There is no need for us to be involved,” he said.
The Speaker said that there are 33 MPs in the business committee and that there are usually only 16 MPs in this committee. However, the Opposition leader said the number of MPs is immaterial and that the Speaker must entertain the request made by MP Jayasekera.
Uttara Lanka Sabawa MP Mohamed Muzammil said that both the Leader of the House and the Opposition Leader have agreed to allow all Opposition parties to be represented in the business committee.
“The Speaker has promised twice to give a verdict on this. There are 13 MPs with us. There are five SLFP MPs. Our rights have been violated. Please make a decision today. You only have to give us two slots and two slots to the government,” he said.
Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said a party with three MPs has representation at the business committee.
“So, two parties with 18 MPs deserve representation. So the Speaker can make a decision,” he said.