Colombo, Apr 7: The loyalists of former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa on Tuesday(April 7) made a bid to oust the leader of Opposition who is close to new President Maithripala Sirisena by submitting a written request to the Speaker for his replacement.
"We have this morning handed over a written request to Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa with more than 50 signatures to make Dinesh Gunawardena the leader of the opposition," said TB Ekanayake, a legislator and Rajapaksa loyalist said.
Nimal Siripala de Silva is the current leader of Opposition. Gunawardena has led a nation-wide to bring Rajapaksa back to politics.
However, Speaker Rajapaksa, the older brother of the former President said he needed to study the issue as there were no such precedent and he reserved his ruling. Rajapaksa was defeated by Sirisena in January 9 presidential election as the common opposition challenger to him.
The current president was sacked from Rajapaksa's Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) when he challenged then president Rajapaksa. But after his victory with the support of the then main opposition United National Party, Sirisena was invited by Rajapaksa to take over the party. When Sirisena formed the government with the current Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's UNP, ending Rajapaksa's near 10 year rule, de Silva, a SLFP senior was made the parliamentary opposition leader.
The issue came to be complicated in mid March, when Sirisena inducted some of his SLFP members as ministers to form a unity government. So de Silva's position as the leader of the Opposition became untenable due to SLFP members sitting with both the government and the opposition. Rajapaksa, who despite his defeat still wants to return to politics have been courting his former partymen and several other former government allies to make a comeback.