National Freedom Front (NFF) leader and Joint Opposition (JO) heavyweight Wimal Weerawansa, MP, Sunday acknowledged that the JO was divided over his demand to quit the UNP-led constitutional making process.
MP Weerawansa alleged that the JO, too, had contributed to the political project inimical to the country’s interests as part of the 20-member Steering Committee spearheading the operation.
MP Weerawansa said so in response to query raised by The Island at a media briefing held by the NFF at its Pita Kotte party office. NFF Western Provincial Council member Lalantha Gunasekera flanked the NFF leader.
Asked whether the NFF had taken up the issue with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, MP Weerawansa revealed that the decision had been delayed as the JO leaders wanted it to be unanimous. The MP wanted the JO to quit the process after informing the public of the reasons for its decision.
The JO comprises 52 members of parliament elected on the UPFA ticket at August 2015 parliamentary polls. The UPFA secured 95 seats, including National List slots with the majority throwing their weight behind ex-SLFP leader Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The NFF leader declined to name those who had been opposed to the move or discuss a deadline for the JO to decide on the matter. Colombo District MP denied The Island assertion that the JO had been divided due to a few opposing call to quit the constitutional making process. MP Weerawansa said that leaders of three constituent parties of the JO had asserted that the JO should remain in the process. One of the three parties hadn’t been represented in parliament, MP Weerawansa said, adding that party leaders would meet next week.
Although MP Weerawansa declined to reveal names, well informed sources told The Island that MPs Dinesh Gunawardena (SLFP/UPFA), Udaya Gammanpila (Pivithuru Hela Urumaya/UPFA) and Prof. Tissa Vitharana (LSSP) had disagreed with the NFF.
Pending a final decision by the JO, the five-member NFF parliamentary group had quit the process therefore UNP could no longer claim that entire parliament would function as Constitutional Assembly.