JVP, Govt in last-minute deal
The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) secured a promise from the Government that it would abrogate the 2002 Ceasefire Agreement and prune (cut down) the Cabinet to thirty (30), among other demands before it decided at the last minute to abstain from Friday's crucial vote on the third reading of the Budget, highly placed sources told The Sunday Times.
In last minute discussions between the JVP leadership and a prominent Government MP, it was agreed that the JVP demands would be met in the new year.
Failure to meet these demands would mean a series of trade union strikes, the JVP had warned. No formal announcements on any of these lines have been made either by the JVP or the Government. Neither has the JVP publicly given reasons for its last-minute switch. Many of their members were not available for comment last night.
Just prior to the vote on the second reading of the Budget last month, the JVP made similar demands before deciding how it would vote. The demands went un-heeded and the JVP voted against the Budget.
The decision to make one final round of negotiations with the Government came despite a decision taken by the party's politburo on Thursday night to vote against the Budget.
During the week, the JVP leaders made their stance public.
The Party had been divided on its support for the Government, with a section drumming support to have the Budget passed on the footing that it was required to defeat the LTTE. The same section argued that the number of seats held by the JVP in Parliament could be reduced if they faced a general election.
During the week, the Party voted for the Defence Ministry votes, and then its leadership is reported to have assured Armed Services top brass that their voting against the Budget on Friday should not be construed as any opposition to the 'war effort'.
They had urged the Service top brass, through intermediaries, to continue with the military campaigns against the LTTE despite their decision to vote against the Government.
Then came the 11th hour meeting with the prominent Government MP on the morning of the vote where the negotiations took place.
As it turned out eventually, the Government with 114 votes, would have had the Budget passed even if the JVP had voted against it. However, there were indications that the plantations-based CWC would have also voted against the Budget had the JVP voted against it -- which would have then defeated the Government.