Diana and SJB clash

  • SJB to take disciplinary action 
  • Diana says no action can be taken

By Maheesha Mudugamuwa 

Conflicting claims are being made by the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) General Secretary and the Deputy Secretary of the same party MP Diana Gamage regarding the Central Committee members of the SJB, following the aftermath of last Thursday’s (22) vote on the 20th Amendment to the Constitution in Parliament. 

SJB Deputy Secretary National List MP Diana Gamage was among the eight SJB MPs who voted for the 20th Amendment last week. 

Following the voting, vehement opposition had erupted within the party against Gamage and the other members, while a group of members had written to SJB General Secretary MP Ranjith Madduma Bandara to take disciplinary action against the MPs who supported the 20th Amendment including Gamage. 

On Friday (23) evening, the SJB leadership, after discussions with the parliamentary group, decided to expel the members who had voted in favour of the 20th Amendment.  

In such a backdrop, Gamage alleged that the SJB couldn’t take disciplinary action. 

“They are not in a position to remove me just like that; I am the Deputy Secretary of the party and the Samagi Jana Balawegaya is now elected to Parliament because I allowed them to use the political party that my husband and I had established,” she told The Sunday Morning

The party that was transformed into the SJB was originally the Ape Jathika Peramuna that was formed by Gamage and her husband Senaka De Silva. It was in return for this that she was nominated by the party as a National List MP. 

“I have legitimate power over the Samagi Jana Balawegaya; we have very strong bylaws governing the party. That means my husband, who is a Deputy Chair of the SJB and I, have a say in the legal decisions that need to be made for the SJB,” she said. 

Nevertheless, contradictory remarks were made by SJB General Secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara, as he stressed that the Central Committee was appointed recently by the SJB members and therefore, disciplinary action would be taken against Gamage. 

“There is no issue with the Central Committee,” he told The Sunday Morning.   

The other MPs who voted for the 20th Amendment included those of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), the Sri Lanka Makkal Congress (SLMC), and the Tamil Progressive Alliance (TPA).   

When asked whether similar action would be taken against the MPs of these three parties who voted for the 20th Amendment, Bandara said a discussion would be held with party leaders and a decision would be taken afterwards. 

Meanwhile, when contacted, SJB MP Nalin Bandara Jayamaha told The Sunday Morning that the three parties have already been removed from the Opposition Whip and they wouldn’t be taken into the group meeting and speeches would not be given under the Opposition Whip in Parliament.