Two deputy ministers quit; CWC suffers split


Three Provincial councillors and 14 Pradeshiya Sabha members of Digambaram’s National Workers Union (NWU) pledged their support to common opposition candidate while one Provincial councillor of the Upcountry People’s Front also declared his support

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Having pledged to back Opposition presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena at the January 8, 2015 poll, National Workers’ Union (NWU) leader and National Languages and Social Integration Deputy Minister Palani Digambaram quit the SLFP-led coalition yesterday.

The move was made amidst frantic efforts by the SLFP leadership to convince the young politician to remain in the government. Well informed sources said that Digambaram as well as several others, including Deputy Minister V. S. Radhakrishan were to join Maithripala Sirisena on stage during a public rally in Kandy on Tuesday.

Nuwara Eliya Disrtrict MP Digambaram received deputy ministerial portfolio from President Mahinda Rajapaksa on August 21, 2014. Digambaram contested the last parliamentary poll in April 2010 on the UNP ticket, though he subsequently joined the UPFA.

Later in the day, Botanical Gardens and Public Recreation Deputy Minister V. S. Radhakrishnan submitted his resignation. Radhakrishnan, one-time senior member of the CWC contested the Nuwara Eliya District on the UPFA ticket. The MP subsequently joined the Up Country People’s Front (UPF) and he recently accompanied UPF leader Mrs Shanthidevi Chandrasekeran,who met President Rajapaksa at Temple Trees, where both pledged their support to incumbent president’s re-election bid.

The seven members elected from the Nuwara Eliya District at the last poll comprised five UPFA (CWC contested on the UPFA ticket) and two UNP.

UPFA parliamentarian Perumal Rajathurai of CWC representing the Nuwara Eliya District was the first to pledge support to Maithripala Sirisena and immediately he received the appointment as the Nuwara Eliya District UNP organiser. He was followed by UPFA MP Navin Dissanayake from the same District quitting the government.

Yesterday’s developments resulted in CWC leader Arumugam Thondaman (Nuwara Eliya District MP) losing both CWC members elected to current parliament. The UPFA has lost three out of five elected from the same district in addition to losing Digambaram, widely considered as an emerging leader.

Others who have defected are Dr Rajitha Senaratne (Kalutara District), Wasantha Senanayake (Gampaha District), Duminda Dissanayake (Anuradhapura District), M.K.D.S. Gunewardane (Trinomalee District) and Rajiva Wijesinha (UPFA-National List).

Meanwhile, the other Nuwara Eliya District MP J. Sri Ranga couldn’t be contacted yesterday for comment regarding his position at the forthcoming presidential election. Although he was elected on the UNP ticket, Ranga has functioned as an independent member.

Well informed sources told The Island that Colombo District MP Prabha Ganeshan wouldn’t switch his allegiance to Maithripala Sirisena’s Camp. Ganeshan, too, contested the last parliamentary election on the UNP ticket. President Rajapaksa appointed Ganeshan as the Deputy Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technology on the same day Palani Digambaram received appointment as a deputy minister.

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