Colombo Telegraph is now in a position to reveal that two senior UNP Parliamentarians openly campaigning for Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe – namely Rajitha Senaratne and John Amaratunga – have attempted to strike a secret deal with President Maithripala Sirisena to form a fresh national government, without Wickremesinghe.
The new national government is ‘Plan B’ of Sirisena’s operation as he has failed to secure a majority in Parliament to support Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Prime Ministerial bid. Sirisena’s ‘Plan B’ is to form a new national government with the SLFP, a section of the Joint Opposition and a UNP minus Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Senaratne and Amaratunga had met Sirisena yesterday to discuss the new arrangement. Dinesh Weerakkody, the son-in-law of Amaratunga and a close associate of Senaratne, had facilitated the discussion, Colombo Telegraph can reveal.
As a measure to break the current political deadlock, they had discussed the possibility of forming a new national government, with the SLFP, the UNP and the Joint Opposition sharing an equal quota (10) of Cabinet portfolios.
Sources familiar with the matter said Sirisena had even agreed to appoint any senior UNPer – except for party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe – as the Prime Minister of the new national government. Sirisena had informed the two UNP seniors that even Sajith Premadasa, the Deputy Leader of the UNP, was an “option” for the premiership.
Sirisena had also informed them that Cabinet positions could be given to about 10 UNPers and they had also discussed possible names who would offer support to such an arrangement. Interestingly, all the names that surfaced during this discussion are linked to large scale cases of corruption under the UNP-led government.
Colombo Telegraph, in June, revealed that sixteen close associates of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as well as their families have been targeted in a special corruption investigation drive launched by Sirisena.
The plan was to move the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery and Corruption (Bribery Commission) to investigate Wickremesinghe’s aides, nine of whom are his closest loyalists. The Commission was empowered to investigate and even call for and examine bank details of persons about whom allegations are made.
These investigations and bank account details are likely to be used to blackmail these MPs into supporting the new national government, without Ranil Wickremesinghe.
After the discussion with Sirisena, Senaratne and Amaratunga had held a discussion with Wickremesinghe at Temple Trees on an alternative way of resolving the political crisis. During the discussion, both Senaratne and Amaratunga had stressed the need for an interim arrangement and had offered to facilitate a meeting between Sirisena and Wickremesinghe to discuss a “fresh arrangement”.
Colombo Telegraph learns that the ultimate objective of this mission is to edge Wickremesinghe out and get the UNP’s consent to form a national government with a different “UNP Prime Minister”, until the next election.
Another important outcome of this mission is to throw former President Mahinda Rajapaksa into a fresh crisis. Under this plan, Rajapaksa will be deprived of his Prime Ministerial post and will be forced to either accept a ministerial portfolio or to merely step aside paving way for a UNP Prime Minister, Colombo Telegraph learns.
Sirisena has decided to convene Parliament on November 14, buying more time to execute his ‘Plan B’. Initially, he promised the diplomatic community to convene Parliament on November 05 and then assured speaker that he would allow the House to meet on November 07.
Colombo Telegraph attempted to contact Rajitha Senaratne thrice to get his comment on the matter. However, he failed to respond to our calls. Dinesh Weerakkody’s mobile phone was switched off when we attempted to contact on Sunday night.