by Saman Indrajith
UPFA MP Dallus Alahapperuma says the stories being floated in some quarters that moves are underway to strip former President Mahinda Rajapaksa of his civic rights should not be taken lightly. That could be a trial balloon, he told The Island last night.
Alahapperuma was responsing to a story that a group of senior UNP ministers had decided to meet President Maithripala Sirisena and request him to appoint a special Presidential Commission to investigate attempts to create a schism in the Malwatte Chapter of the Siyam Nikaya under the Rajapaksa government, party sources said yesterday.
The commission would be empowered to investigate all persons involved in the alleged attempt to create a rift in the Malwatte Chapter and to make recommendations to the President.
Anyone found guilty of such an offence could be stripped of his civic rights, Leader of the House and Highways and Higher Education Minister Lakshman Kiriella told a meeting attended by senior UNP ministers yesterday, party sources said.
Minister Kiriella told the meeting that he had information that former President Rajapaksa had attempted to divide the Malwatte Chapter and he would personally testify before a special presidential commission.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, addressing a ceremony at Kadigamuwa in Rambukkana on July 31, said the government had information of attempts to create divisions in the Malwatte Chapter and a presidential commission would investigate them.
The Prime Minister said one of the main objectives of the new government was to prevent efforts to cause division within Maha Sangha.
Alahapperuma said former President was an ardent Buddhist and never would he do anything detrimental to the Maha Sangha. Consumed with hatred, the UNP would resort to anything to neutralise the Rajapaksa factor in politics, Alahapperuma said.
The UNP had stooped so low as to strip the world’s first Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike’s civic rights for political reasons and it was likely to make a similar attempt in dealing with Mahinda Rajapaksa, who remained popular, said MP Alahapperuma. The recently concluded extremely successful Pada Yathra had given a scare to the UNP and sent a clear message to the world that the people were still with Mahinda Rajapaksa. Out of its frustration the UNP might resort to anything to protect its interests, but the JO backed by the people was ready to face any eventuality, Alahapperuma said. He dared the government to hold local government elections without postponing them on some flimsy pretext to avoid an electoral setback.