By Shamindra Ferdinando
Top Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) spokesperson Mujibur Rahuman says those Ministers who challenged the sale of the Yugadanavi Plant should be either sacked by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa or they should quit the Cabinet, without further delay, if they genuinely believe the government entered into an agreement at the expense of national security.
The Colombo District lawmaker insists Ministers Vasudeva Nanayakkara (General Secretary, Democratic Left Front), Wimal Weerawansa (Leader, National Freedom Front) and Udaya Gammanpila (Leader, Pivithuru Hela Urumaya) can’t have it both ways.
Responding to The Island queries, MP Rahuman pointed out that having made submissions to the Supreme Court as regards what they called, a corrupt energy deal, they voted for the Budget and continue to serve the cabinet. MP Rahuman said that all eight members of the DLF, NFF and PHU voted for the final vote on the 2022 Budget.
MP Rahuman questioned the rationale in them remaining in the Cabinet after having alleged that Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa manipulated the Cabinet process to pave the way for the sale and purchase agreement for New Fortress Energy Sri Lanka Power Holding LLC to acquire 40 percent of issued share capital of West Coast Power (Private) Limited.
Lawmaker Rahuman said that following the explosive statement made by JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, last Friday, after having tabled a copy of the agreement, Minister Weerawansa made a desperate bid to play down the importance of the JVP Leader’s disclosure in Parliament. The former UNP MP said that the Opposition repeatedly asked the government to table the agreement. In spite of promising to do so, the government conveniently failed to table the agreement, MP Rahuman said, pointing out that MP Weerawansa claimed that his former colleague could have received a copy from a member of the Cabinet.
The JVP leader is on record as having said that several members of the Cabinet asked for copies of the agreement from him.
The Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, Ven. Elle Gunawansa, the SJB and the JVP moved Court against the Yugadanavi agreement.
MP Rahuman said that in addition to the DLF, NFF and PHU, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), with 14 members, the Communist Party, and a couple of other MPs, declared their opposition to the Yugadanavi deal. But all of them voted for the Budget, MP Rahuman said, alleging that those who opposed the US energy deal continue to defend the same government while faulting anti-Sri Lanka agreement, the SJB spokesperson said.
The main Opposition party challenged them to take a stand if they are genuinely opposed to the deal. MP Rahuman said that the Yugadanavi fiasco caused, rapid deterioration of the government against the backdrop of serious corruption charges regarding the importation of Chinese carbonic fertiliser and liquid urea fertilizer from India.
Meanwhile, lawmaker Anura Kumara Dissanayake told The Island that the Presidential Media Division (PMD) had organised a briefing for journalists recently to justify the Yugadanavi deal. He asked whether the PMD knewthat the Chief Government Valuer P. P. D. S. Muthukumarana had given an opinion so soon in response to the Director General, Department of Public Enterprises request dated 9 and 13 July, 2021. Muthukumarana responded on July 14, 2021.
MP Dissanayake said that whatever the members of the Cabinet said for and against the Yugadanavi deal, the public couldn’t be deceived. A two-thirds majority for Budget 2021 didn’t mean a thing, MP Dissanayake said, asserting that disclosure of corrupt transactions pertaining to fertiliser imports from China and India and the Yugadanavi deal had caused a debilitating setback to the SLPP, the JVPer said.