Ajit Rajapakse elected as new Deputy Speaker of Sri Lankan Parliament

New Delhi: Sri Lanka’s parliament on May 17 elected Ajit Rajapaksa, a legislator from the ruling party, as its deputy.

He was elected by a secret ballot held in Parliament, where MPs met for the first time since the resignation of former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and the swearing-in of new Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Sri Lankan media reported that Sri Ajit Rajapakse of the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna Party got 109 votes and Rohini Kaviratna, the candidate of the main opposition Samagi Jana Balvegaya, got 78 votes. Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abhaywardene said 23 votes were rejected.

Hot exchange in parliament
Several MPs spoke out against the vote and claimed it was a waste of valuable time of Parliament.

Some ruling party lawmakers and independent groups including the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) urged the SJB and the government to reach a consensus and propose a name. However, a consensus could not be reached between the two sides.

There was a heated argument between the opposition, the government and the Speaker. The Speaker later informed the House that if there is no consensus, he has no option but to go to the vote.

Both Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa and his son Namal were absent, while other members of the Rajapakse family, Tulsi Rajapaksa and Shashindra Rajapaksa, were present in Parliament.