In Sri Lanka, former Marxist Insurgents Are The Most Active Parliamentarians
Colombo, July 22: A Sri Lankan Marxist party, which had tried to overthrow bourgeois democracy twice in the last 45 years, is today wedded to the norms and practices associated with the Westminster system, setting an example to parties which have traditionally laid claim to being “democratic”, The New Indian Express reports
The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), which had staged two insurrections, one in 1971 and the other in 1989, and was banned twice, in 1971 and 1983, is today the most active parliamentary party in Sri Lanka, scoring high in an assessment conducted by Verite Research.
According to Verite Research’s www.manthri.lk which keeps track of the performance of Members of Parliament (MPs) in a scientific way, JVP is the top scorer in the present (8 th) parliament, which was elected in July 2015.
The JVP has only seven MPs in a house of 225, but five of them are among the top 10 ten performers.
JVP’s parliamentary party leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake (Colombo District MP) is number one in the long list of 20, followed by party colleague Sunil Handunnetti (National or nominated List). Appuhami Nalinda Jayatissa (Kalutara) is fifth. Vijitha Herath (Gampaha) is eighth and Bimal Ratnayake (National List) is number 10.
The United National Party (UNP), which was voted to power in July 2015, after being in the doghouse for a little more than a decade, is a second best performer. Four of its 83 MPs are in the top ten. Buddhika Pathirana (Matara) is the top performer being third in the overall ranking. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe (Colombo) is the second best performer in the UNP and fourth in the list of the top 10.
Other UNP MPs in the top ten are; Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake (Colombo) who is 7 th; and Media and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Gayantha Karnathilaka (Galle), who is 9 th.
The only member of the Joint Opposition Group (JOG) led by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is among the top ten, is Dinesh Gunawardhane (United Peoples’ Freedom Alliance (UPFA) Colombo). He is ranked sixth.
Among those ranked between 11 and 20, four belong to the UNP and four to the JOG led by Rajapaksa. The lone Tamil MP in this group is M.A.Sumanthiran of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA-Jaffna), who is 13 th.
The top scorer in the 11 to 20 group is Ajith Kumara Mannapperuma (Gampaha), followed by Bandula Gunarawardhane (UPFA Colombo). Justice Minister Wijayadasa Rajapakshe (UNP-Colombo) is 14 th, followed by Deputy Minister of Power Ajith Perera (UNP Kalutara). Rajapaksa group stalwart Vasudeva Nanayakkara (UPFA Ratnapura) is 16 th, followed by another Rajapaksa loyalist Mahindananda Aluthgamage (Kandy).
Housing Minister Sajith Premadasa (UNP-Hambantota) and son of former President R.Premadasa is 18 th, followed by Rajapaksa loyalist. Udaya Gammanpila (Pivithuru Hela Uumaya, Colombo Distriict). The Minister of Megapolis and Western Province Development, Patali Champika Ranawaka, is the last in the list of top 20 performers.
Colombo and Western Province Lead
Colombo District, which is Sri Lanka’s political and economic nerve center, dominates the proceedings of the island’s parliament, with eight out of the 20 top performers representing that district.
Twelve of the top 20 represent the Western Province which, with Colombo as its hub, is the most populated and the most economically advanced in the country.
Three of the 20 represent the Southern Province. Jaffna, Kandy and Ratnapura, have one each in the long list.
Briefing the public on the performance rankings here on Thursday, Nishan de Mel of Verite Research said that five percent of the MPs accounted for 66 percent of the questions asked. Five MPs took no part in the proceedings. The level of participation of women MPs (6 percent of the membership of the House) is about half of that of men.
However, it would be wrong to conclude that most of the 224 MPs were inactive. According to de Mel, 214 participated in debates; 101 filed petitions on behalf of their constituents; and 45 submitted at least one written question. Only five MPs were totally inactive.
Spate of No Trust Motions
Perhaps indicative of the existence of a fluid political situation in the country, with a strong opposition challenging a patch work coalition government, there has been a spurt in No Confidence Motions. De Mel pointed out that the current parliament has seen six No Trust Motions, while during the 9 years of Rajapaksa’s rule, there were only three.
In assessing the performance of MPs, participation in the Consultative Committees was also taken account. There were 20,000 subjects to classify and these were divided into 15 categories. The website www.manthri.lk gives details about every MP, what he said, on what subject, and when.
The website has enabled constituents to know what their representatives are doing for them and the published assessment gives a chance to the MPs to improve their performance.