Written by Staff Writer
17 Jan, 2020 | 10:16 pm
Colombo (News 1st): Speaking at a media briefing convened at the Opposition Leader’s Office this morning, MP Dr. Harsha de Silva sought to explain the situation that had arisen at the UNP Parliamentary group meeting last evening (Jan 17).
“I had a record of all the incidents running into 14 pages. Our leader noted that 33 persons had spoken for him, many had spoken to him over the phone and that 95% of them had asked him to continue on and to include Sajith Premadasa and Karu Jayasuriya too. He said however that they had asked him to continue as the leader. He said he would not be contesting the election in 2025 and as such he would offer an opportunity for change in leadership in 2022 or 2023. Notwithstanding the votes from the North and the East, the UNP has deteriorated. We have been unable to get even 40% in many districts. It should be our target to increase our percentage of the vote. MP Ranjith Maddumabandara informed the leader that although 95% of the people who have spoken to him have asked him to stay on, this is not the reality at the grassroots level. He noted that there was no confidence among the MPs either. It was at this time that the honourable leader Ranil Wickremesinghe took the stern position that there would be no change. When asked on who would decide the Prime Ministerial candidate, he noted it would be decided by the working committee. Sajith Premadasa noted that he had met with the Chief Prelates last morning and that he felt there was a disparity between what the leader reported and the Chief Prelates had said last week and what the Chief Prelates had told Premadasa. Sujeewa Senasinghe told the honourable leader continuously that the situation on the ground was far different from what the leader was saying and that on the ground people did not favour him. The Leader said there was no need to discuss that. Ashok Abeysinghe informed him that he had spoken to agents at 90 polling booths and that they had all reported that they were not willing to go for elections with Ranil Wickremesinghe. Ranjith Maddumabandara asked the honourable leader not to be a dictator and to allow space for democracy. The leader repeated that he would not contest elections in 2025 and that there is time until then. The young MP Harshana Rajakaruna then put forward a good proposal that a vote is taken on this. An absolute majority of the 65 MPs gathered there stood up. The Leader said that all the members are not present. I then informed the leader that we have a total of 77 MPs and that if 39 of the MPs here express an opinion then it must be respected. The Leader said there was no need for a vote and he left.”
The remaining MPs had then taken a vote at which an absolute majority had voted in favour of Sajith Premadasa taking over as party leader.
UNP MP Ajith P. Perera noted that there are several who believe that Ranil Wickremesinghe should be the party leader as long as he lives and several who think the party will be finished if Ranil Wickremesinghe leaves. He added that they do not believe that. He called on the honourable leader to respectfully resign and to appoint a new leader and leadership team which will deliver new policies.
Further UNP MP Nalin Bandara noted that when they asked Wickremesinghe who the PM candidate was, he didn’t even have a response to that. He added that Wickremesinghe does not even have a solution on the PM candidate let alone the party leader but speaks of Karu and Sajith however, there is no plan to muster the people until the very last moment.
Bandara said Ranil Wickremesinghe speaks of unity with people like Vajira Abeywardena. He noted that they see instances in some schools where the Principal and the staff are united but the school does not progress. He pointed out that if Ranil Wickremesinghe continues to cling onto this claiming it is for unity then the party will die.
MP Harin Fernando also speaking on this issue noted they wonder whether he (RW) is backing the government because he is refusing to listen to a majority in the party. He questioned whether plans are being made to create a rift within the party and thereby provide a two-thirds majority for someone else. He noted that currently they have been trapped within Ranjan’s recording and the party crisis. He stressed that the government is about to get US$ 1000 million from China because they can’t afford to pay people’s salaries.
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