UNP blocks ‘Swan’ symbol to Samagi Jana Balawegaya

Ranil Wickremesinghe and Sajith Premadasa

Although agreement has been expressed to give the ‘Swan’ symbol to the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), the UNP has been sitting on the matter without taking a decision, several senior politicians said.

It has been reported that several UNP members have informed that they would join the Sajith Premadasa-led alliance to contest the upcoming General Election, in the event the formation of the Ranil-Sajith partnership is further delayed.

Several rounds of discussions have been held with the aim of devising a systematic plan for the Ranil-Sajith partnership to reach an agreement and contest the General Election collaboratively. On 7 March, two separate discussions had been held at former Speaker Karu Jayasuriya’s house down Amarasekara Mawatha, Kirulapone.

The first discussion had been attended by UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, SJB General Secretary Ranjith Maddumabandara, Sujeewa Senasinghe and Rajitha Senaratne.

The second discussion had been attended by New Democratic Front (NDF) Secretary Sharmila Perera, Shaleela Munasinghe, Rajitha Senaratne, Ranjith Maddumabandara and Eran Wickremeratne. During the discussion, a decision was reached to give the ‘Swan’ symbol to be used as the SJB’s symbol.

Daya Pelpola had stated that since issues pertaining to the SJB’s constitution haven’t been resolved thus far, further discussions need to be held within the UNP.

The UNP leader has been informed that a group of UNP members are planning to join the Sajith faction, if the UNP continues to take more time unnecessarily, since accepting nominations for the upcoming General Election is to be commenced in three days, political sources said.

Recently, several rounds of discussions, led by the former Speaker, were held in a bid to put an end to the UNP crisis. During these discussions, the former Speaker had emphasised that he was prepared to do anything to save the UNP.

He had further stated that if the two parties can reach an agreement to contest the General Election together, he was ready to give the leadership and intervention and also accept any responsibility it involves.

Sources said that although various proposals had been put forward during these discussions, the discussions had ended without a concrete agreement being reached. The SJB, with the opening of its head office in Pita Kotte, have started public meetings throughout the country.

Another discussion between the Ranil and Sajith factions is scheduled to be held tomorrow (10), and at this discussion, the SJB will take a final decision as to whether to contest the General Election independently or in collaboration with the UNP.

Although discussions between the two factions have not come to an end, regardless of the decision of tomorrow’s discussion, the SJB will continue to carry out its already-planned election campaigns, SJB leaders said.

Malik Samarawickrama has been given the responsibility of preparing a programme regarding giving nominations to parties representing ethnic minorities and other partner parties for the General Election.

In addition, the SJB had decided to give the responsibility of discussing with seat organisers and preparing the final nominations list to SJB General Secretary Ranjith Maddumabandara.

(Source: Ceylon Today – By Shiran Ranasinghe)