Issuing a much needed call for party unity, the former Deputy Leader of the United National Party Karu Jayasuriya urged the leadership to declare a general pardon to all dissident members and strive to end internecine fighting that was weakening the main opposition politically.
Jayasuriya who has been a consistent proponent of the UNP pulling together in order to be a credible and forceful opposition against the incumbent Rajapaksa administration, delivered a special message to UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe during a news conference today.
“We must defeat attempts by the Government to destroy the UNP,” Jayasuriya charged. “This party must stop fighting internally and join hands to fight for the cause of democracy on behalf of the people of Sri Lanka,” he said.
Dismissing a need to be given a position in order to work for the UNP with dedication, Jayasuriya urged Wickremesinghe to drop all disciplinary inquiries against dissidents accused of violating party directives and regulations.
“If necessary declare a common amnesty and go forward uniting all. If we can unite as a party, then we can unite the opposition,” he emphasised.
Recalling the UNP’s glory days, Jayasuriya said that with the party’s Jana Bala Meheyuma of 2000, the party then in opposition had been able to force the Kumaratunga regime out of power.
“If we can do such a thing today, we will be doing a great service and justice to the country and the people,” he said.
As a senior member, Jayasuriya said he would not impose conditions on the party leadership but would remain a loyal worker for the UNP.
“The United National Party is not a party owned by Ranil Wickremesinghe, Sajith Premadasa or myself. I don’t need positions to work as a loyal member of this party,” he explained.
Rapprochement talks have commenced between the UNP Leadership and several dissident factions within the party in order to put up an united front ahead of the upcoming provincial polls. Accordingly the disciplinary inquiries against UNP MPs Palitha Range Bandara and Asoka Abeysinghe were dropped by the party leadership this week. Bandara and Abeysinghe were being investigated for violating party regulations when they attended a Sarath Fonseka backed rally late last year against a party directive.
Moves are underway to mend the Wickremesinghe-Jayasuriya relations that have been somewhat strained ever since the latter challenged the UNP leader to a leadership battle in December 2011, party sources said. Jayasuriya once defeated lost his place as the party’s deputy leader and was never reinstated in the UNP Working Committee, its apex decision making body.