Sajith wants to lead UNP, run for President

Sajith Premadasa - UNP Deputy Leader

Amidst moves to name him as the party’s Chief Ministerial candidate, at the forthcoming Southern Provincial Council polls, UNP MP Sajith Premadasa demands that he be made the leader of the party and its next presidential candidate.

At the last presidential polls in January 2010, the UNP threw its weight behind former army commander Gen. Sarath Fonseka along with the JVP, the TNA, the SLMC and the CWC.

The SLFP-led UPFA introduced the 18th Amendment to the Constitution to do away with the presidential term limit to pave the way for President Mahinda Rajapaksa to contest the presidential election for a third time.

The UNP Working Committee, Parliamentary Group and the party Convention should introduce far reaching reforms, Premadasa told The Island yesterday. “On top of the reforms should be a change of the leader.”

Asked whether he could muster the required support among party seniors to push for reforms, the Hambantota District MP said that in the wake of the recent humiliating electoral defeats in the Sabaragamuwa and Central Provinces and extremely poor performance in the Northern Province those who loved the country and the party wanted him to take over the leadership.

Commenting on the Matara District Organisation’s decision to propose Premadasa as the Southern Province Chief Ministerial candidate, at the next Working Committee meeting, an irate Premadasa alleged that a despicable attempt was being made to distract the party. He emphasised that he wouldn’t give in to the machinations of a few desperate individuals all out to retain the defend leadership at the expense of the party.

Premadasa said: “The party needs a radical change. No one has asked the incumbent leadership to name Chief Ministerial candidates for the Southern, Western or Uva Provinces. Instead of listening to the voice of the electorate, now wanting change of leadership, a foolish attempt is being made to divert the attention of the party. We cannot afford to allow the incumbent leadership to manipulate the Working Committee and the Parliamentary Group again to its advantage.”

Premadasa alleged that those wanting him to contest the Southern Provincial Council were conspiring to sabotage his political career. He claimed that the group conspiring against him worked with the notion that the government could be defeated with the support of former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga.

Responding to a query, Premadasa said that the UNP couldn’t afford to identify itself with those who had been still working closely with foreign elements supportive of the LTTE’s separatist sentiments.

He said that the UNP had the wherewithal to take on the UPFA if it was given effective leadership. Pointing out that the UNP had always performed well in the Hambantota electoral district under his leadership, though it was President Rajapaksa’s home base, UNPer underscored that at the last parliamentary polls in April 2010 his party had managed to retain the same number seats, whereas the number dropped in all other electoral districts.

(Courtesy: The Island)