Parliamentary business was relegated to rowdy levels today during the budget speech of President Mahinda Rajapaksa with some unruly government MPs trying to manhandle and rough up UNP members who held aloft placards critical of the 2012 budget.
In the middle of the President’s budgetary speech, UNP MPs started shouting slogans against the budgetary proposals. They also rose on their feet holding aloft placards which said ‘Shame’ in all the three languages.
However, the action by the UNP provoked some government benchers to react angrily. Ruling party MP from the Kandy District Lohan Ratwatte was the first to run down towards the seat of Chief Opposition MP John Amaratunga. MP Ratwatte grabbed the placard that was in the hands of Mr. Amaratunga and ran back to his seat. His action appeared to be a signal for his other colleagues to unleash their anger against the UNP MPs.
Followed by Mr. Ratwatte, ruling party legislators such as Roshan Ranasinghe from Polonnaruwa, Chamika Buddhadasa from Badulla and Udith Lokubandara started trying to snatch away the placards and posters that were with the UNP members.
The situation led to unpleasant and unparliamentarily scenes in the House with some angry government members throwing water bottles at the UNP members. Heated cross talks ensued between the members of the two sides, and in one instance, MP Buddhadasa almost traded blows with UNP MP from Badulla Harin Fernando.
Deputy Education Minister Gamini Vijith Wijayamuni Zoisa also stormed into the well of the House and threw away the books and documents placed on the desks of the UNP members. Deputy Minister of Ports Development Rohitha Abeygunawardane then approached the seat of UNP MP Mangala Samaraweera and started confronting him with un-parliamentary language.
However, some senior government members such as Bandula Gunawardane were seen trying to calm their colleagues down and prevent any possible violent incidents.
The scenes that were unbecoming of parliamentarians were seen even by the members of the diplomatic missions in the Speaker’s gallery. After the incident, all the UNP MPs left the chamber.
They were heard saying that the violence used by the government to suppress the rights of people is now being used inside the House as well.
Despite the commotion created by the members, the President continued with his speech. (Kelum Bandara and Yohan Perera)