B. Muralidhar Reddy

COLOMBO: A Cabinet Minister and four junior Ministers of the Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) announced on Thursday that they were withdrawing support to the Mahinda Rajapaksa Government due to “political differences”.

A CWC spokesperson said the five had handed over their letters of resignations to President’s secretary Lalit Weeratunga. However, a spokesperson of the Presidential Secretariat insisted that the President’s Office had not received any letter.

Differences between the President and the CWC have been brewing for some time now. A senior leader of the CWC told The Hindu that matters came to a head after one of the senior advisers of the President “humiliated” the senior leaders of the party.

The imminent exit of the CWC would not make any difference to the stability of the Government in Parliament as it has more than a simple majority thanks to defections from the United National Party earlier in the year.

Worrying factor

However, the development does indicate that the strength of political forces opposed to the Rajapaksa regime is growing. Recently the UNP led by the former Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party rebel, Mangala Samaraweera, came together under the banner of National Congress with the objective of dislodging the Rajapaksa Government.

At an impressive rally here last week, the two leaders hinted that several members of the disgruntled members in the ruling party are waiting in the wings to cross over to the Opposition. The other worrying factor for the Rajapaksa regime is a case pending before the Supreme Court challenging the defection of 19 UNP parliamentarians.

Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, a recent entrant into the Rajapaksa regime, has also been unhappy with the Government.