The United National Party (UNP) will continue to rebuild the party from the grassroots level in the coming months, giving an opportunity for new blood to rise up the ranks forming a strong organizational base around electorates, said Deputy Leader Ruwan Wijewardene yesterday.
Wijewardene made these comments following a function at party headquarters Sirikotha, to assume duties as an office bearer for 2021, where he indicated that he would consider taking up the lone seat in Parliament through the National List if the party deemed it suitable, though he prefers to be elected to Parliament rather than being appointed through the National List.
“If the party requests me to take up the seat in Parliament in one voice, I am ready to take up the task and carry out the duties assigned to me,” Wijewardene said in response to a question by the media.
The UNP managed to secure a single National List seat in parliament following a landslide defeat at the last general election, where they failed to secure any of the electoral seats they ran for.
“The UNP will nominate a suitable person at the right time to represent ourselves in Parliament. We are watching what transpires in Parliament closely. Unfortunately, what we have seen happening in Parliament in the recent past has been less about providing solutions for the public issues and more about lawmakers arguing about each other’s weaknesses. The economic crisis is growing, the Government is mismanaging the country and the COVID-19 response,” Wijewardene stressed, pointing out that UNP members await direction on the matter from Party Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe.
The Deputy Leader downplayed concerns regarding more UNP members breaking away to join the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), pointing out that there are some who move from party to party due to political uncertainty.
However, Wijewardene stated that the SJB was made up by many former UNP members, stating that to play the role of the opposition effectively, all opposition parties need to stand together.
“We need to stand together if we are to be a more effective opposition. Many who were in the UNP are in the SJB and we know some who supported the SJB at regional level have returned to the UNP as we rebuild the party. There are some who will move towards the SJB when they feel dissatisfied with us and vice versa. I hope all opposition parties can unite in the future.”
(Source: Daily FT – By Asiri Fernando)