TNA: Disgruntled Wijeyadasa trying to scuttle efforts to introduce new Constitution

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Jaffna District Tamil National Alliance lawmaker M.A. Sumanthiran yesterday told The Island that former Justice Minister Dr Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, PC, was making a despicable bid to sabotage the ongoing constitution making process.

MP Sumanthiran said so in response to MP Rajapakse’s controversial request to Speaker Karu Jayasuriya to rescind a motion passed in Parliament to set up the constitutional assembly to prepare a new Constitution.

Having spearheaded the constitution making process on behalf of the UNP as well as the coalition the government since the inception of the new administration, MP Rajapakse had suddenly found the whole exercise to be in violation of the present Constitution, The President’s Counsel faulted the media for not immediately seeking an explanation from the former Justice Minister regarding his sudden change of heart, Sumanthiran said.

The TNA spokesperson said Rajapakse hadn’t seen anything wrong with the process until he was unceremoniously sacked by the government. Declining to comment on the circumstances under which Dr. Rajapakse had to leave the cabinet in August this year, Sumanthiran said that it was certainly not fair for him to sabotage the very process he himself played a significant role in order to spite the UNP.

MP Rajapakse’s warning to Speaker Jayasuriya that the latter would have to accept the blame for permitting Parliament to engage in an anti-constitutional act was nothing but a joke, the TNA Jaffna District MP said.

Rajapakse has warned that there will be countrywide chaos unless the Speaker intervened now. Commenting on MP Rajapakse’s assertion that the Constitutional Assembly was an illegal body and it would create a constitutional crisis in the country, Sumanthiran emphasised that the former Justice Minister couldn’t distance himself from the process. Having sponsored the original Resolution that paved the way for the ongoing process, Rajapakse had served both Steering Committee headed by Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe and the Constitutional Assembly.

Pointing out that Dr. Rajapakse had been placed fourth on 20-member list of Steering Committee members, MP Sumanthiran alleged that the disgruntled UNPer was causing irreparable damage to post-war reconciliation process.

He said Dr Rajapakse had participated at almost all Steering Committee meetings until he was sacked and then he launched his own disruptive project.

Rajapakse was one of those who had designed the entire operation leading to the appointment of six sub committees that dealt with fundamental rights, judiciary, law and order, public finance, public service and centre– periphery relations, the TNA MP said. Sumanthiran said that MP Rajapakse had played a pivotal role in preparing the Steering Committee’s interim report that dealt with six vital subjects, nature of the state, executive, parliamentary elections, principles of devolution, religion and state land.

MP Rajapakse wouldn’t find any support for his arguments as the entire country knew his role in the project which he now claimed violated the provision of the present Constitution.

The TNA spokesman dismissed MP Rajapakse claim that the situation in the country was not conducive to drafting a new constitution and incumbent Parliament not suitable for the task

Sumanthiran said the parliament shouldn’t tolerate MP Rajapakse’s efforts to reverse the very basis of formation of the unity government. Common candidate Maithripala Sirisena promised

Earlier, UNP National List MP Ven. Athureliye Rathana declared strong opposition to the new Constitution in case the government went ahead with it. He vowed to take to the streets with others if the government sought to bring in a new Constitution or constitutional amendments that required referendum in violation of President Maithripala Sirisena’s election manifesto.

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