PANDEMONIUM REINS IN HOUSE

Pandemonium reigned in Parliament yesterday morning as the Joint Opposition MPs stormed the well of the House when Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe stood up to make a statement on the Bond issue.

The PM took the floor amidst heavy disturbances of the Joint Opposition MPs and the House was suspended for a Party Leaders’ Meeting soon after his speech. Ugly scenes unfolded in the House after suspension, ending up in blood shed of MPs and torn up files and documents all over the floor of the main Chamber.

 Hit and run games, exchange of fisticuffs and grappling of MPs became the order of the day during the special sitting which also marked the first sitting for this year.

The dramatic scenes started with a demonstration by the JO MPs who held posters on the Bond issue while the PM was on his feet. The posters held by the JO demanded immediate arrest of the “Bond culprits”. They walked towards the Mace carrying the posters and shouting out slogans. The Serjeant-at-Arms Anil Samarasekera and his deputy Kushan Jayaratne held on to the Mace in the bracket when the Opposition MPs tried to grab it.

Several UNP Backbenchers, who also gathered in the middle of the well, tangled with the JO MPs, but several MPs of both the sides intervened to separate their MPs. Some in the JO were seen throwing paper balls at the Government side benches. JO MPs shouted ‘Ranil Hora’ (Ranil is a thief) while the UNP Members shouted ‘Mahinda Hora’ (Mahinda is a thief).

UNP MP Kavinda Jayawardena who was seen arguing with the JO MPs fainted and fell down in the middle of the well. He was taken to a chair and sprinkled water to the face by fellow UNP members Sujeewa Senasinghe, S.M. Marikkar and Ranjan Ramanayake. After a while, MP Jayawardena was taken out of the chamber.

The scenes turned violent soon after the suspension of the House by the Speaker at 11.10am for a Party Leaders’ Meeting. The JO members and UNP backbenchers clashed head on exchanging blows at each other. The posters, files and documents on the MPs benches were hurled at each other. UNP MP Marrikar punched JO MP Gamini Lokuge on the face and ran out of the chamber, and later on JO MP Prasanna Ranatunga punched UNP MP Chaminda Wijesiri on the face and ran out of the chamber. MP Johnston Fernando was seen punching UNP MPs Chaminda Wijesiri and Hector Appuhamy.

As the situation intensified, UNP MP Rohini Kaviratne was caught up in the middle of the brawl. As she was dragged and pushed by the other MPs, MPs Hirunika Premachandra and Thusitha Wijemanne hurried to help her get out of the fight.

Fully engulfed in the fistfight, JO MP Prasanna Ranaweera was quite oblivious to the fact that his shirt buttons were ripped open. Ranjith de Soysa was injured during the brawl.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was also seen trying to bring the situation under control with Ministers Sagala Rathnayake, Malik Samarawickrama and Vajira Abeywardena. However, the ministers prevented the PM from advancing towards the direction of the brawl. The PM was seen talking to UNP backbenchers as well as MP Dinesh Gunawardena to stop the fight. 

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