| Former COPE Chairman
now UNPís broker
COPE Chairman, Wijeyadasa
Rajapakshe who crossed over to the opposition on the eve of the
second reading of the budget last month, has now assumed the
role of MP broker for the main opposition UNP, it is learnt.
Rajapakshe recently brokered Hussein Bhaila, leaving it up to
former UNP Chairman Malik Samarawickrema to seal the deal. A
journalist telephoned Samarawickrema to inform him that Bhaila
would meet him at a residence near Alfred House Gardens at an
While waiting for the Muslim MP to show, Samarawickrema engaged
in some idle chit chat with the chief occupant of the house, and
finally when Bhaila was more than 15 minutes late, the former
UNP Chairman called the MPís mobile telephone.
But it was Bhailaís son who answered the telephone, and informed
Samarawickrema that his father had left his mobile at home and
As it turns out, Bhaila was in fact at Temple Trees visiting
with President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the time he was supposed to
have met up with Samarawickrema. When the former UNP Chairman
had called to invite Bhaila for discussions, the MP had promptly
informed the President of the invitation he had received and
Rajapaksa had asked him to go ahead with the meeting. However,
the President changed his mind at the last moment and insisted
that Bhaila should come and meet him at the same hour he was
supposed to meet Samarawickrema.
Samarawickrema is in fact involved in the effort to win over
government MPís to the Opposition, in the run up to the crucial
third budget reading and vote on December 14. He has been seen
in the parliamentary complex several times over the last few
days, and even had lunch with SLFP Mahajana Wing Convenor
Mangala Samaraweera at parliament last week.