As a surprise move just hours ahead of the possible announcement of the presidential election, Health Minister and SLFP General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena has been offered the position of Prime Minister, a highly placed government source told Asian Mirror, under the strict conditions of anonymity. However, the minister, who is one of the most senior-most members of the cabinet, has still not responded to the offer positively. The offer has been made by one of the top-most echelons of the government, this evening.
The position has been offered amidst rumours that Minister Sirisena is preparing for a crossover, probably to be the common candidate of the opposition. However, no official party has confirmed such a move.
There were multiple requests from various sections of the ruling party to appoint Maithripala Sirisena as the Prime Minister before the next presidential election – as a radical move to strengthen the party. They were of the view that D.M. Jayarathne, the present Prime Minister, was well over the age of retirement.
Sirisena attended the funeral of senior journalist Karunadasa Sooriyarachchi, representing the government, and read a message from President Mahinda Rajapaksa. After the event, several reported who were present there asked the Minister whether he was a contemplating a crossover to become the common candidate of the opposition. The Minister responded to their questions with a bout of giggles and said, ‘yes, there are rumours’
Portfolios deserted by ministers come under the purview of the President
Chief Government Whip Water Supply and Drainage Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said this morning in Parliament that once minister resigns from his or her post, the portfolio automatically goes under the purview of the President according to the provisions of the Constitution that had been prepared by the UNP. If any MP has a question with regard to such a ministry, the Prime Minister or the Leader of the House would respond to that question on behalf of the President.
He said that crossing over of MPs and switching alliances were usual scene during budget debates. Minister Gunwardena said so after Chief Opposition Whip John Amaratunga observed that for the first time in Lankan parliamentary history an expenditure head of a ministry was taken up during a committee stage debate without subject minister or his deputy.
MP Amaratunga said the situation occurred owing to the resignation of Patali Champika Ranawaka from the Technology and Research portfolio.
There had been no deputy minister appointed to the Ministry of Technology and Research, Amaratunga said. (Special Reporter/HC) Budget 2015, President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Parlaiment Sri Lanka