By Arun Kumaresan –
Sajith Premadasa’s (SP) announcement came after it became well apparent that RW is not contesting. The first challenge Ranil Wickremesinghe (RW) encountered, when UNP MP’s questioned the constitution of the proposed ‘Democratic Alliance” and in particular to the composition of the ‘Leadership Council’ of the said Democratic Alliance, which was asymmetric; if not, it had an hidden agenda. (Only one UNP’er – RW – out of the 7 or 8 would be members). It was checkmated by UNP Working Committee (WC) by a majority of 48 vs 12 in support of the tabled constitution. This gave them the momentum to identify a leader from within.
If and only RW as the leader of the grand old party should have told he is the UNP candidate – I presume everyone would have accepted irrespective of the eventual outcome ( may be Harin F and few others would have taken an ‘off’ for 5 year from politics). He did not; he was even reluctant to name Karu J. The grapevine was abuzz that it will be Patli C. There was a grave doubt whether this was an attempt to protect his (RW’s ) title as the UNP leader ; which would have stand contested , in the event Karu J or Sajith P becomes a winner at the Presidential elections
If fielding Patli C is true (no offence to him intended ), this would have been the third time UNP would have outsourced its nomination to a 3rd party. Yes, RW would have come and said to the UNP rank & file that, it was unanimous decision of the Leadership Council, in the event the said constitution was accepted upfront by the Working Committee of the UNP. It is sad UNP, under RW’s Leadership; has had 4 consecutive defeats (4th one outsourced) at Presidential elections & the 5th too – courtesy MS ( SLFP Gen Secy) there was a win. One of the main demand of those objected within the WC was to have 50% + one representatives in the leadership council. The other was to appoint the UNP Presidential candidate prior forming the alliance.
With regards to the experience of SP; he is the deputy leader; as at now stands as the legitimate successor to RW. Since RW assuming leadership it has had roughly 7+ yrs in power in national Governance. ( 2+ yrs from 2001 – 4) and the present from 2015 to date. All the Cabinet Ministers have had ONLY that experience sans RW who in addition to pre 1994 also have held the coveted appointment as Leader of the Opposition, which RW is seemingly very comfortable. (Exceptions: Karu & Navin and few other who returned may have had bit more under MR’s regime !!!!! Gamini Jayawiickrama Perera under pre 94 era). SP has been a cabinet minister the full term of the UNP led administration being loyal to the party without crossovers during those 7 years. Also it appears you were surprised by the presence of Eran W. Of course it is positive as Eran W & Dr Harsha’s presence enriches SP’s team.
In absence of a name in your article suggesting a person as a Presidential candidate from UNP; I am afraid your critique of SP amounts a mere blind worship of RW or out of prejudices arising out of the ideology of ‘elitism’, it attempts to protect – RW at any cost in the belief that he will remain even as a ‘Leader of Opposition’ at any cost. I respect your right to be loyal to RW.
Today’s letter by Ahimsa Wiickramatunghe , the episode of Vajira A telling the PM will respond to the issue of passport to GR has relevance. Bond Scam & SRILANKAN bungle by his inner circle too is very relevant & needs mention. RW is an artist who plans & executes strategies to protect himself and not the party. His record from 1994 to date justifies – he is not a straight forward leader. In a lighter vein, RW, if he had mastered the game of chess; he would have earned the title of a ‘Grand Master’. But now the new generations of chess players are emerging to counter his technique. First, was the defeat at the WC ; 48 to 12.
Why not RW convene the WC and put forward a name of a better candidate & may it decide; but once again contesting elections is all about winning. Not working on a strategy that eventually leads up to the appointment of the “Leader of Opposition”.
Yes, RW has now been intimidated by the working committee for the first time. I certainly will agree on that.
With utmost respect to your mature wisdom & lifetime experiences you have had.