Amidst the Sajith Premadasa Faction threatening to break away, the UNP said yesterday that it would contest the next General Election under the ‘Elephant’ symbol and in partnership with like- minded parties.
Senior UNP sources said that a change in the leadership of the party in the run-up to the next parliamentary polls expected to be held in April, would divide and not unite its members.
The best way forward in the interim, they pointed out, would be for a Leadership Council comprising Ranil Wickremesinghe, Karu Jayasuriya and Sajith Premadasa to campaign jointly, as a combination of their support base was required for a good performance. The sources said that Ranil would offer the post of National leader to Karu Jayasuriya this week, so that he could begin preparations to contest the General Election under the UNP symbol in partnership with like-minded political parties.
It won’t be long before Sajith headed the UNP, they noted, but those demanding his appointment at this juncture should understand that the timing of their campaign was detrimental to the party, the sources said.
The top leadership had bent backwards in nominating Sajith as the UNPs Presidential candidate and thereafter appointing him as the Opposition Leader and also naming him as the Prime Ministerial candidate. As such, the sources said it was now up to to Sajith to come up with a good performance in his electorate, which would automatically propel him to the top regardless of Sajith himself voting for Ranil to be the leader until 2025, at the Special Convention held prior to the November 16 Presidential Election.
Ranil, they pointed out, had already assured that he would not remain at the helm for another five years. So it was up to Sajith to expedite that process, by ensuring party unity and winning the parliamentary polls, which cannot be achieved with just the support of the MPs around him.
Asked as to why Karu Jayasuriya had been picked to lead the election campaign, the sources said it was because high hopes placed on Sajith to attract a big percentage of the Sinhala Buddhist votes had not materialized.
The November 16 polls result had disproved certain myths that existed in the minds of a section of UNP MPs and it was high time they stopped fighting over who their leader should be and ensure that they first won their respective electorates, which was the only way to further one’s political career, the sources said.
(Source: The Island – By Zacki Jabbar)