Party democracy displayed Sajith throws down the gauntlet

Sajith Premadasa

Deputy Leader of United National Party (UNP), Minister Sajith Premadasa, in a letter addressed to UNP Leader, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, urged the latter to immediately call for the conduct of a secret ballot with the participation of the UNP Working Committee and Parliamentary Group, so that they can go for a democratic decision on the Party’s Presidential Candidacy.

He claimed that he is certain that he will get the majority of the votes.

Speaking to the media yesterday (17) in Colombo, Premadasa acknowledged that he had informed Wickremesinghe in writing that he is willing to be the Presidential Candidate for the forthcoming Presidential Poll.

Premadasa also emphasised that he is ready to accept any decision taken by the Working Committee and the Parliamentary Group and that he will never go beyond the decision taken by the said bodies. He also claimed that he will never contest from another Party.

“In the letter, I expressed my own intention that I have decided that I would come forward and if there are other opinions or any other interested persons keen on becoming the Presidential candidate, I request them to follow democratic procedures, and I also call for an immediate meeting to discuss this. If there are various opinions within the Party Membership, it is better to adopt the secret ballot method to solve the matter,” he added.

Meanwhile, addressing the same Media briefing, Minister of Finance Mangala Samaraweera said that there is no crisis within the Party about the candidacy. “This is the democracy the Party has given where anyone can come forward as the Presidential candidate.”

When asked as to whether Premadasa had met other Party Members, Premadasa claimed that he had met every Party Member including those of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP). He said that in the future, it will be revealed as to who is supporting him from other parties.

“We will never bow down to any conditions laid down by other parties and civil society organisations but we will work according to policies by respecting others opinions. I have started meeting civil society organisations since yesterday and I am aware that there is no serious protest within the Party with regard to my request to be the Party candidate. There were no special meetings with the Tamil National Alliance but often I meet them in the Parliament and on other occasions,” he added.

When asked if incumbent Premier Wickremesinghe will be the future Premier if Premadasa is elected to the office of the President, he said that this is all about the Presidential Poll and not about the Premier.

“There is news doing the rounds that disciplinary action will be taken against the UNP Members who are supporting me but everyone should understand that those are just passing clouds and we should not pay attention to them,” he added.

Premadasa also said that he always respects the public’s view, adding that if the public requests him to quit politics at anytime, he is ready to do so.

“Politics is not my life and without me politics will not vanish. I am part of politics. If my people urge me to quit, I am always ready since I do not want to keep on staying in the same place,” he added.

(Source: Ceylon Today – By Thameenah Razeek)