Double victory for Govt.

By Chandani Kirinde

The Budget was passed yesterday by a clear majority of 42 votes -- but more than the euphoria of winning the vote, enthusiastic Government legislators held posters thanking the President and the troops for the military successes in Pooneryn.

The Government secured 127 votes and the opposition 85 at the end of the second reading of the Budget yesterday. Among those who voted with the Government were the 12 MPs of Wimal Weerawansa’s National Freedom Front, while the UNP, the JVP, the TNA and the SLMC opposed the Budget.

Independent MP Ven. Uduwe Dhammaloka Thera voted with the government while SLFP dissident MP Mangala samaraweera voted with the opposition. Among those who were not present were MPs Wijedasa Rajapakse and Mano Ganeshan.

As the vote was announced, Ministers Mahinda Ratnatilleke and Mervin Silva rushed to the front of the Chamber and unfurled a national flag. They had to leave soon after when Speaker W.J.M. Lokubandara showed displeasure at the move by calling out to the House Leader Nimal Siripala de Silva to draw his attention to their behaviour.

The two ministers then moved back to their seats and tried to unfurl the flag once again but with no apparent support for the move from members on their side. Minister Ratnatilleke folded it and put it away into a bag.

Earlier, shortly before the vote was taken, Minister Ratnatilleke was seen distributing posters among government MPs thanking the President and the troops for the military success.House Leader de Silva who wound up the seven-day debate said the troops were well on their way to liberating Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu from the grips of the LTTE and asked why the UNP could not be magnanimous and join in celebrating the military victory.

It was NFF leader Weerawansa who interrupted the speech of Minister Sarath Amunugama to announce the capture of Pooneryn last morning. It was well received by Government members while NFF MPs thumped the tables.

Mr Amunugama said this accomplishment justified the Government’s decision to allocate a large amount of money for defence.

The JVP too joined in later to pay tribute to the troops with its MP Anura Dissanayaka saying the Government needed to provide more welfare measures for the families of soldiers.

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