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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2555

Minister Mahindananda's statement led to CWC crisis, party to backbench but not to topple the govt

Colombo, 06 August, (Asiantribune.com): The CWC is meeting President Mahinda Rajapakse but its leader Arumugan Thondaman is absence for the meeting. A statement by the non-Cabinet Power and Energy Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage led to the current crisis. And, CWC "will sit on backbenches and continue to support administration but will not topple the government."

The meeting of CWC and the President is now on without its leader Thondaman. CWC's all the other four members of parliament are meeting the President.

Addressing the press this afternoon, C W C's Muttu Sivalingam revealed the reason for the split. The incident is centred on an Estate sector power project, where a statement by non-Cabinet Power and Energy Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage caused panic among CWC leader-ranks.

On a recent occasion connected with the mini-power project at the Queensberry (Tea) Estate, located at the central tea hills of Sri Lanka, Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage openly called the estate workers to join the ruling party SLFP "and enjoy a better life."

When the irritated CWC bigwigs thereafter met Basil Rajapakse to inform and inquire on this statement, "Basil showed irritation towards us, despite my age and seniority of 45 yrs in estate politics and even being elder to the President. I pleaded not to get angry...We got hit below the belt so badly, we felt that we lost our dignity, which led to our decision to quit" Sivalingam revealed. "However, since we need to serve our people we shall continue to support the government while being in the backbench," he said.

Meanwhile, reports revealed that the UNP too has suddenly arranged the meeting of their group at the Parliamentary complex this evening. "The meeting is for reviewing the party activities of last week and discusses the present political situation," the UNP said, but did not elaborate.

Four CWC MPs are attending the meet, a CWC official said. The Chief Government Whip's Office announced earlier today that "the meeting is for the review of activities and the present political situation. " Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, the Chief Government Whip, in the crisis aftermath said that the CWC "issue will be resolved by Monday
(today)."

On August 2, the CWC resigned from the government as the party was insulted. The leader of the CWC Arumugan Thondaman, who was also the Minister of Youth Empowerment and Socio Economic Development and four other CWC members have resigned from the government 'due to the party being insulted a 'high ranking official of the government.' Thereafter, speculation was rife that the CWC would join the new "National Congress" recently floated by Mangala Samaraweera's SLFP (M) wing and the opposition UNP. CWC was a constituent of the United Peoples Freedom alliance (UPFA) government.

Since early July, the CWC have been meeting with the SLFP (M) wing 'quietly.' On July 5, CWC and Peoples Wing of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) met at Sawmiya Bawan, headquarters of the CWC "for discussions on matters related to the uncertainties in political alliances in the parliament."

The CWC delegation was led by its leader Arumugan Thondaman, Muthu Sivalingam, and .R.Yogarajan. SLFP (PW) comprised its leader .Mangala Samaraweera, Sripathi Sooriyarachchi and .Tiran Alles. Discussion between the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) and SLFP (PW) also were scheduled, sources said. SLMC is also a constituent of the UPFA government with its leader Rauff Hakeem holding a cabinet
portfolio.

- Asian Tribune -

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