10 December, 2019

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Sajith Must Take The Fight To Ranil & Call The Bluff

By Amrit Muttukumaru

Amrit Muttukumaru

The goings-on in the UNP as gleaned from the mainstream print media to say the least is disgusting and irresponsible for an alternative governing party. Despite blemishes, the UNP has a rich history of which it can be justly proud. The UNP never really recovered  from the beating it has taken since its leadership in 1994 virtually fell into  the lap of Ranil Wickremesinghe after the assassination of Gamini Dissanayake. Its troubles have grown exponentially since then barring a few years when it was glossed over when the party was unconvincingly in governance through coalitions which lasted a relatively short while. Even its just concluded stint in coalition governance lasted even this long due to the controversial 19th Amendment which was conceived and passed in a manner that was anything but transparent.

Ranil Wickremesinghe has clung on as UNP leader for the better part of 25 years virtually by force by the brute power given to the leader by the UNP constitution. Under him the UNP has lost a record number of nation-wide elections and also lost thousands of exasperated party faithful. It is widely perceived that Wickremesinghe’s ‘stock’ in the country and among a vast majority of the UNP faithful is at an all time low.

It is widely believed that Wickremesinghe must bear substantial responsibility for the defeat of Sajith Premadasa at the just concluded Presidential election after he very reluctantly was compelled virtually at the last minute to propose Premadasa as presidential candidate. 

There is also the perception that Wickremesinghe is more comfortable under a Gotabaya Rajapaksa presidency rather than one with Sajith Premadasa. This was reinforced a few days ago when neither Wickremesinghe nor UNP General-Secretary Akila Viraj Kariyawasam closely identified with him were present at the Elections Secretariat when the results were being officially announced while  he thought it fit to be present in Anuradhapura at the swearing in of Gotabaya Rajapaksa as President. While it is conceded that his presence in Anuradhapura was courteous and appropriate, should it not be viewed in the WIDER CONTEXT of his absence at the Elections Secretariat in his capacity as UNP leader? It was indeed sad to see on TV Sajith Premadasa being ignored by his party leader and party General-Secretary.

State of Play in UNP

Ranil Wickremesinghe is still HELL- BENT on remaining as UNP leader and Opposition Leader in Parliament. Speaker Karu Jayasuriya has reportedly ‘recognised’ Wickremesinghe as Opposition Leader despite claims that a MAJORITY of UNP parliamentarians have proposed Sajith Premadasa to this position. Be that as it may, should there not be a  transparent ‘floor test’ among UNP parliamentarians to put this matter to rest? In the meanwhile it is also reported that Karu Jayasuriya is being ‘proposed’ as “interim leader of the party in the run up to the General Election” and that “Sajith himself was not very keen on taking over the mantle of leadership at this juncture” (‘The Island’ 28 November 2019).  Karu Jayasuriya is the father -in – law of Navin Dissanayake a former Cabinet Minister and prominent UNP member.

Sajith Premadasa

It is high time Premadasa came out of the shadows and asserted himself if he is keen on making a positive difference to this country by attaining high political office. Attaining the leadership of the UNP with its voter base should be his goal for this endeavour.  The country is in dire need of a strong opposition to ensure the check and balance to counter the Rajapaksa juggernaut now enshrined in the presidency of the country. Democratic governance demands this. 

Despite his last minute nomination and even the widely perceived ‘in house’ antagonism against him, Sajith Premadasa had a very decent outing at the hustings. He proved to be an effective speaker/communicator. He did obtain over 5.5 million votes of which a substantial number were outside the North and East with a Sinhala – Buddhist presence that by no means can be scoffed at. Of course there was discernible polarization which does not portend well for the country unless appropriately addressed. Is not Premadasa with his Sinhala-Buddhist credentials and strong pro-poor image in an ideal position to resolve these concerns once and for all in a manner acceptable to ALL parties where the ultimate WINNER is the country?

However it needs to be flagged that Premadasa is his own worst enemy mainly due to his unassertive nature. Yet by no means can it be said that he is laid-back going by his tireless work ethic at the ground level not dissimilar to that of his late father.  Even in this respect however commendable, he must re-visit the sustainability of the model he is following in his housing program as to whether it is creating a dependency culture which can be counterproductive to nation building. He must also appreciate there is far more to nation building and economic development that an obsession (however praiseworthy) with housing the poor. He did articulate these wider aspects on his campaign trail. 

Conclusion 

For the sake of the democratic and pluralistic governance of the country, Premadasa must   throw down the gauntlet and take the fight to Wickremesinghe and his cohorts and call their bluff. He must no more depend on his core group to ‘carry the can for him’. This dependence sends a negative message to the electorate. It demonstrates the absence of the leadership and guts required to face things head-on in the public and national interest.

The General Elections are just around the corner and he must have the infrastructure in readiness to either ensure a parliamentary majority or at worst to pose a serious challenge as a strong opposition to the Rajapaksa juggernaut enshrined in the presidency. Although ideally he must take control of the UNP and administer it with internal democracy, he and his core group must even be ready to immediately install a new political party. There is no time to waste or procrastinate.  Either outcome must be decided right now.

Towards this end Premadasa must forthwith give a timeline to Wickremesinghe  (one week) to demand (1)  ‘leadership’ of the UNP (2) Post of ‘Opposition Leader’ while stating there will be a new political party constituted if these demands are not immediately acceded to. The chances are that by and large the UNP leadership will fall in line with him as their options are limited. 

Is not Sajith Premadasa with his Sinhala-Buddhist credentials, strong pro-poor image and acceptance to the minorities the best bet the country has at present to form the next government after the parliamentary elections or at the worst provide a strong opposition?

Premadasa and his team must have the courage to ‘walk the talk’. This will greatly enhance the level of voter confidence in him. 

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Latest comments

  • 16
    0

    Ranil has shown incompetence throughout his history of being in power, and is responsible for the Rajapaksa’s coming back to power, for what may be decades in Sri Lanka.
    He behaved like a dog in the manger, and reluctantly agreed for S. Premadasa to take over as candidate, but that too at the last minute. It is time he retired from politics, and left the scene, and allowed younger, more competent UNP candidates to try and bring some standing back to the party. Enough of these old codgers, and losers, who have done nothing to help party or country. They have been selfish, and spineless, and looked out only for themselves, their powers, and their pockets. We now have to deal with the Rajapaksa’s and their crimes, thanks to Ranil’s bumbling ways. Shame.

    • 5
      0

      Amrit,

      Yes. Sajith must call the bluff, pull the trigger and make Ranil W make the choice, his ego or the party.

      The leach would not drop until it has got its filling. Twenty five years is too long, and it’s time the old leach drop and move on.

      • 1
        0

        It appears that Sajith doesn’t have the capacity to take the ‘Bull By The Horn’.

  • 15
    0

    Ranil will try his usual trick, call for small meetings, promise reform in the party and bluff the clueless and trusting UNP MPs .

    After that he will retire to a five star hotel to dine with his old royalists ‘elite’ of his own mode.

    After that, he will fly overseas on first class comfort ( with his intellectual wife) to discuss world affairs and liberal values with any white man who will give him the time. If possible, he will detour to meet Mahendran in a third country, to discuss their investments all over the world.

    That is Ranil Wickramasinghe guys.

  • 4
    0

    i hope he has the balls to do it and do it fast
    it is not time for another hamlet
    his father would have jumped at the opportunity
    let us see how like him he is

  • 5
    0

    i am a born UNPer. but i`m depressed because of this man ranil. this man is a curse to the country and the Grand old party. once in parliament he said i was having a nice time being an opposition leader. it`s very difficult to be the prime minister of the country. he wants to be the opposition leader till he die. he did it very nicely the moment he became the prime minister. brought arjuna mahendran and now the rest is history.

  • 0
    3

    Guys, I just came across a very important piece in the Colombo Media on this Amrit’s subject..

    Our Commissioner says Sex between Men & Men has come down by 20% in our prisons.
    This was revealed as part of our HIV awareness week in Lankawe.

    The HIV infections also have declined although we still get about 3000 a year ,

    HIV treatment is one of the most expensive in the Public Health Systems . So any decrease is good from human as well as money point of view.
    This is a good out come for the Yahapalana Govt and certainly can be a vote winner just like those free Issue Sanitary Pads .

    Wonder which TEAM will run with this to get the credit ?.
    Will it be Keselwatta Kid ..Or Will it be Dr Ranil’s TEAM?..,

  • 3
    0

    Most important, the UNP must get the elephant symbol back. Enough of the swan, tainted for ever by association with the hated Sirisena.

  • 1
    10

    The writer is joking! Sajith who was trounced so badly to take over from Ranil? Sajith lost his own seat by over 30,000. All his clique members lost badly: Sujeewa by over 60,000. Ajith by over 40,000. Harin by over 30,000. If not for Ranil’s work in N&E, Sajith would have collapsed to 20,000.
    Why don’t you guys talk sense for a change?

    • 1
      0

      Keep in mind NE vote was not for Ranil. It was anti-Rajapakse vote. Also, what is the point of keeping Ranil after 25 years of his record?

  • 6
    0

    Flavian, you mean Ranil persuaded the Tamil voter ! What will the Tamil Political Parties and chaps like Sumandiaran think of your idea ?

    The Tamils are now following Ranil and not their traditional Tamil leaders ! A revolutionary idea I must say.

    Why did the Muslims vote for Premadasa ? May be Ranil promised to circumcise himself !

    Why did the majority Sinhalses vote against Premadasa ? May they didn’t like the way he ran the government ?

    Ha ha , Ranil still has his Flavions, but their flavour has gone bad.

  • 0
    2

    There is no difference between Hon. Ranil or Sajith. All UNP’er should come together and work towards winning the general election. UNP means – “Under No Pressure”.

  • 3
    0

    Ranil W. remaining the Leader of the UNP will ensure that the Rajapakse Govt: to have an effortless journey for many more years.
    The best thing to have happened for the Rajapakse clan is a UNP led by Ranil.W.

    • 0
      2

      Plato,

      If so, why is it that all Pohottuwa supporters are asking Ranil to step down. On the contrary they should be happy to have Ranil there. What convoluted Logic?

  • 0
    3

    Mutukumaru is a Rajapakse ar…..e-licker. He want to prop up Sajith again so that the UNP will lose badly at the general elections

  • 0
    1

    Gamini.
    It is the supporters But the Rajapakses know what is best for them!

  • 1
    0

    sajith premadasa please keep away from ranil. form a another party , if you are not given the full authority to lead unp. you will definitely will be successful as pohottuwa

  • 0
    0

    in srilanka unp only hold 2.4 million sinhalese votes while the huge single party mahindas slfp hold 6.1 million block vote base of sinhalese . maximum minority votes canbe cast in any election is 3.2 million . this 3.2 million votes can be divided 1.1 million musilims and 2.1 million tamils. out of 1.1 million muslim votes 9 00000 votes owned by muslim congress and Rishard. out of 2.1 million tamil votes 1.7 million votes owned to the tamil parties collectively only,130 000 tamil votes favour for slfp and thondaman.
    what is the reality out of 101 lacks sinhales votes 600000 votes can be casted to Jvp and 1 million floating votes. last election 700000 sinhalese floating votes were casted to gota and 200000 casted to sajith. in next election tamil parties will contest separately ,most of the time muslim congress and rishard,digambaramwill contest with unp .so unp alliance maximum can go up to 37 lacks with 11 lacks minority party votes wile slfp will go up to atleast 6.7 million votes. this will be a end of unp. there is only one option is all anti slfp small parties like unp, jvp,tamil muslim parties have come under one alliance then they can form a oppostion at least with 90 seats. other wise the huge business party slfp of mahinda definetey go for a 2/3 majority alone.

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