Editorial: Pruning Cabinet, a reality take
Mar 22, 2010
By winning the war which he promised to end President Mahinda Rajapaksa has acquired a certain degree of credibility among the masses.

However when he promised to prune the Cabinet to 25 this time, not everybody was convinced. After all a similar undertaking was given in 2005 and everybody knows what happened afterwards.

Ok so one has to accommodate the top guns of the opposition who cross over to government. There were two defections, a major one from the UNP and another from the JVP started with the defection of Nandana Gunatilleka and tiny Sri Lanka started parading the world’s biggest Cabinet.

Let’s assume a determined President makes up his mind not to exceed the 25 mark this time. The likely defeat of quite a few Cabinet ministers contesting elections especially from Colombo at April 08 polls is likely to help him.

While the government insists that it is out to get a two thirds majority and the opposition urges the electorate to block the government’s move, the reality is that two thirds majority is still out of reach for the UPFA. It is puerile to compare the results of the Presidential elections and do the calculations as the popularity of the president does not necessarily reflect the popularity of his team.

Since the government is insisting that it would bring a whole host of Constitutional reforms especially one to re-introduce the first past the post system it goes without saying that the UPFA is out to fish in the opposition in the next parliament as well. Attracting opposition members without the lure of portfolios certainly is an uphill task and therefore even in the event of the President sticking to his promise at the beginning, there’s absolutely no guarantee he will be able to keep it at that during the rest of the term.

Next month’s election has provided the President with an ideal opportunity to see how the public treat those whom he offered portfolios for switching camps.

In Colombo the fate of two UNP defectors, who got Cabinet portfolios as ‘crossover perks’, is poised on a precipice while a third had already lost the race. A slew of such long jumpers in the South, Sabaragamuwa and the North Central province are also likely to lose.

While the UNP said that the defections had ‘cleansed’ the party of undesirable elements the same way it appears the UPFA is also going to get a chance to get rid of the burden. About burdens, the country’s biggest liability today also happens to be a UNP parliamentarian who was offered a top portfolio on his defection. This Cabinet minister who has busted hundred millions of public money along with his family is busy now hosting whisky parties and distributing sarees among women in Rajagiriya these days.

If the people in Colombo can get him out it will save the country of a lot of embarrassment.

Courtesy: Daily Mirror