UNP to contest under elephant; Party members oppose move

UNP to contest under elephant; Party members oppose move

Written by Staff Writer

07 Mar, 2020 | 9:20 pm

COLOMBO (News 1st):- While the National Elections Commission has been informed that the United National Party will contest under the symbol of the elephant at the upcoming general election, many political representatives of the party had this to say about the decision.

General Secretary of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya, Ranjith Madduma Bandara said:

“We have informed the Chairman of the National Election Commission that we will contest under the Jathika Samagi Balawegaya. We will appoint a Nomination Board and conduct interviews by next week. The Samagi Jana Balawegaya was formed as an alliance, following a decision taken by the UNP’s Working Committee. The UNP has also accepted Sajith Premadasa as the leader of this alliance. They have appointed me as the General Secretary. We have decided to contest the election under this alliance. It is for the sake of unity that we expressed agreement towards a common symbol instead of promoting the symbol of the telephone. If individuals say that they would be contesting separately, I feel that it is an attempt to cause disunity. All constituent parties including the UNP agreed to contest under the alliance. I do not know the reason behind this decision. But I am making a request to contest the election together instead of causing disunity. 90% of the UNP organizers have agreed on contesting under this alliance. There is no change with regard to this decision.”

Meanwhile, the former UNP working committee member Imtiaz Bakeer Markar said that this is a conspiracy by a small group within the party who are loyal to the government.

Speaking to News1st over the phone, Former UNP Working committee member Imtiaz Bakeer Markar said;

“This statement is completely contradictory to the decision reached by the working committee of the UNP. This statement completely destroyed the decision reached to form an alliance combining all anti-government forces. We see this statement as one that was made in support of this current government. We request Akila Viraj Kariyawasam and the few UNPers who are behind this decision not to commit this crime. The United National Party should not work towards dividing the forces against the government. The UNP must work according to the decision of the working committee of the party and strengthen the alliance led by Sajith Premadasa. I see this statement as a statement from a group conspiring with the government. I see this as a deal. The end of this would be regrettable.”

Meanwhile Former MP, Manusha Nanayakkara also commented on the matter saying;

“Many rounds of discussions were held with Sajith Premadasa and he was promised the symbol of the elephant and the symbol of the swan but now they have left him in the dark. They have fulfilled the wishes of the Rajapaksas. That is why Ranil Wickremesinghe was given a 200 strong security detail while only 15 police officers were assigned to Sajith Premadasa. That is why while Sajith Premadasa was not even given the office of the Opposition Leader, Ranil Wickremesinghe was given 2 offices in Colombo. All of this was done based on the needs of the Rajapaksas to control the United National Party. Our Provincial Councillors are being intimidated. We would like to state that the Samagi Jana Balawegaya was established based on the decision reached by the UNP working committee, therefore they cannot take any legal action against it. So come join us without any fear to defeat this government.”

Former MP, Nalin Bandara says;

“Now they are saying that they definitely want the elephant, and if they don’t get it they would commit suicide. They have contested for the election without the symbol of the elephant at 3 national elections. They have won one election under the symbol of the swan. We have no problem, we like the elephant too. Now the problem is not with the elephant but with the mahout. We cannot be fooled all over again. We will definitely contest the election under the Samagi Jana Balawegaya.”

Former MP, Niroshan Perera also spoke on the matter and said;

“The people who didn’t have any time to even think about the symbol of the elephant when we were contesting for 3 elections under the symbol of the swan, have now begun to show an undying affection towards the symbol of the elephant. Because the UNP has divided over the issue of the symbol the thieves, rapists, and other corrupt politicians from the Pohottuwa are of the opinion that they can easily enter the parliament.”

Meanwhile, Former MP Bandulal Bandarigoda said;

“The General Secretary of our party who announced that he will resign from the position of general secretary is now saying that the UNP will contest separately under the symbol of the elephant at the general election. I would like to ask him if this decision was taken for the party supporters? Was it for the party? Was it for the country? Or was it for the Rajapaksas? Who stands to benefit from this decision.”

He further said;

“Who agreed for the formations of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya? The working committee of the UNP headed by Ranil Wickremesinghe took the decision to form the Samagi Jana Balawegaya. After the formation of this alliance, the working committee decided that we must contest for the upcoming general election under the symbol of the elephant.”

Convener of the National People’s Council, Chameera Perera also voiced concerns over the issue that has arisen within UNP over the election symbol.

“Samagi Jana Balawegaya alliance leader Sajith Premadasa clearly stated that those who looted public funds will not be given nominations. He said that the corrupt, the fraudsters, and the thieves will not be given nomination by the alliance. Some are reversing their support towards the alliance. This is because they know that most of them will not be allowed to contest the election under the Samagi Jana Balawegaya ticket. Even if they are given nominations, they cannot win the election. They have been rejected by the people. They do not have any alternatives as well. They only have the opportunity of leaving their faction. They are implementing the government’s contract. Therefore do not vote for those who have contracts with the government. The people should identify the camp which is opposing the government. That camp is the Samagi Jana Balawegaya led by Sajith Premadasa.”

Meanwhile, several local representatives too expressed their views on various occasions.

Opposition Leader of the Meegahakiula Pradeshiya Sabha Kapila Rajapaksa said;

“I feel that the ball has been passed to the public due to the party leader’s inability to solve this problem. The party supporters must be able to aim for the target. If this happens, I believe that the party will become clean.”

Member of the Passara Pradeshiya Sabha, Gunawardana Fonseka says;

“We wish to state that this is the best opportunity to protect the party and move forward. The next opportunities will come up during the provincial council and the Pradeshiya Sabha elections. There are some General Secretaries. It would be better if we did not have such individuals.”

A group of Pradeshiya Sabha members expressed the following views during a press briefing.

Chairman of the Mahiyanganaya Pradeshiya Sabha, Karu Weeraratna says;

“Today we are ashamed as the village level leaders of the UNP. We do not have answers to the questions of the people. Do they oppose the government? Instead of doing that they are striking deals for political gains. However, they constantly attack a group of members in our party including Sajith Premadasa. During this general election, we request to handover the symbol of the party and the positions to the group backing Sajith Premadasa. If it does not happen, we can surround Sirikotha with the people.”

Chairman of the Ella Pradeshiya Sabha, Amila Basnayaka says;

“The UNP is facing defeats due to the actions of party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and General Secretary Akila Viraj Kariyawasam. I feel it is best if both of them leave the party. If it does not happen, as young UNP members we will surround Sirikotha and chase them away to pave way for the ideal individuals to occupy these positions.”

UNP Organiser of the Kotmale Electorate, Ashoka Herath says;

“Now there is an advisory board to the leader. Who is in that? Akila Viraj and Navin Dissanayake. At this rate, if Ranil Wickremesinghe obtains advice he will have to resign as party leader within two months. He will not be able to stay in this position until 2023. There is also Vajira Abeywardena. They all belong to one group. They are not concerned about people. They want to retain their positions in the party. Therefore, we will not consider the symbol of the elephant. We will contest under Sajith Premadasa’s alliance under any symbol.”

Meanwhile the Leader of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya, Sajith Premadasa addressing a public rally held recently said;

“Everyone should understand that the Samagi Jana Balawegaya is a political alliance. I wish to clearly state that the UNP constitutes this alliance. Certain people are telling various tales. I have one response to them. My father lost his life in the May Day rally of the UNP. Therefore, I do not need explanations on the importance of the Greens, the symbol of the elephant and the UNP. My father made that sacrifice on behalf of the UNP. We began this program since the UNP’s Working Committee approved it. We have come a long way since that. Now the only remaining thing is to contest and win the election. No one is backstabbing each other in the alliance. There is no preferential treatment. Under our program, strong individuals can move forward.”

He further said;

“I also wish to state that individuals who committed themselves to the party will be treated well. I wish to tell the parliamentary group that you will not lose your positions. This is because whatever we did was due to the decision of the UNP’s Working Committee. Certain individuals will receive certain messages. Those messages will be sent by those who cannot go to the people and cannot conduct rallies. I wish to ask an open question, can I see a show of hands for those who are ready to support our campaign.”

Former MP, Patali Champika Ranawaka also spoke at the rally and said;

“The UNP has not been able to clinch power alone for 30 years. Even if they have received power they have been unable to retain it. This happened in 2001 and 2015. Therefore, we have certain questions. How can they clinch power and retain it? Like every other political movement, the UNP should also change. The SLFP last contested an election under the symbol of the hand in 1989. When they lost that election, Chandrika Kumaratunga came forth when it was said that the SLFP cannot come into power. A miracle then happened. They contested under the symbol of the betel leaf and won three presidential elections. When they lost under the symbol of the betel leaf, they moved towards the symbol of the flower bud. Things have gone wrong to their supporters. Therefore, this country needs a new plan to build the economy. A fresh start is required. That is why we have formed the Samagi Jana Balawegaya. Do not panic over the symbol. What is the symbol? It is Sajith.”


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