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UNP's PC election results prove its popularity - Daya Gamage

By Jaliya Wijeyekoon

Provincial Council elections of 2014 to elect new members to Western and Southern Provincial Councils were held recently and there were minor differences in the vote base of the two major political parties while the small parties have recorded a marginal growth in their votes. Political analysts of UPFA and UNP made statements with regard to the final results of the election although there was no significant change in either council.


Daya Gamage

The Sunday Observer conducted an exclusive interview with the UNP's National Organiser Daya Gamage to ascertain its position, party activities and the future course of action with regard to the forthcoming Uva Provincial Council election to be held later this year.

Q: The ruling UPFA has managed to retain the power in both provinces at the recently concluded PC election.

With all your reorganisational activities and propaganda work, you have failed to win either province. What is the reason for this repeated defeats of your party?

A: You have to assess and analyse the results of this election on a broader perspective rather than jumping into conclusions on figures.

This is not a national election where you could change governments. The Central government is UPFA, Presidency is held by UPFA Leader and most of the Local bodies of both these provinces are governed by the UPFA.

So the general feeling of the people is such that no significant change could be effected by defeating a Provincial Council. However, our campaign during the election was to give a clear signal about the defeat of the UPFA at a future national election and we have-satisfactorily achieved it.

When you deeply scrutinise the electoral results, it is quite evident that UNP has achieved a marginal increase in all electorates.

Q: There is something wrong somewhere when the new Leadership Council failed to garner more votes for the party at the recent PC polls. Could you explain as to what went wrong?

A: Nothing went wrong with the Leadership Council. It was a great strength to the party mechanism and Jana Jaya concept was a success. Some of the political opponents who are shaken due to our steady progress, cast various aspersions at the Leadership Council. Leadership Council was not formed to canvass votes from house to house during elections, but to see the smooth functioning of the party with innovative ideas, and programs with the intention of forming a UNP government at a future election. The primary objective of the leadership council was to kick start the party for a future victory at a general election.

Q: You and Ranjan Ramanayake had expressed willingness to contest the PC polls from Colombo and Gampaha districts. Why didn't the nomination board consider your request?

A: Yes, I casually sounded my desire to contest from the Colombo district. But the stark reality is that I had been able to consolidate our vote base in the Eastern Province as the Ampara district leader of the party well above the UPFA strength. The Nomination Board felt and I too realised that my presence in Ampara would be more important to the party at a future general election.

Q: The internal tug-of-war within the UNP came to the open when those blacklisted such as Maithree Guneratne and Shiral Lakthilake actively involved in the Sajith Premadasa's election campaign at Hambantota despite restrictions imposed by the leadership. Isn't this tantamount to revolt against the party?

A: Definitely yes. The working committee has discussed this issue in detail and informed the General Secretary to appoint a committee to look into this matter.

Q: The results of the PC elections give hopes that the UNP vote base could be improved provided the party hierarchy could neutralise the radicals, extremists and dissidents and form a strong front to win future elections.

A: Yes, we admit the fact that we were bogged down in the Opposition for so long mainly due to some rifts among our members. We have now sorted out most of our problems or misunderstandings.

The leadership council is constantly engaged in a friendly dialogue with all members in the party to ensure absolute unity in the party and as the National Organiser of the party I am quite confident that the day is not too far that everybody will shed all petty differences and launch an aggressive campaign against the government at a future National election.

Q: The public sentiment is that only if you infuse young blood that the party could be rescued from the state of slumber. How do you respond to this allegation?

A: I fully agree with you and we have taken steps to infuse young blood into all activities of the party recently. Most of the new electoral organisers whom we appointed recently are young and vibrant youth. Last week, following the PC elections our party appointed young Tennakoon Nilame as the Opposition leader of the Southern Provincial Council and Harshana Rajakaruna was appointed the Chief Opposition whip of the Western Provincial Council.

There are a number of young members in the working committee too. We are in the process of restructuring our student councils in the universities.

When you want to criticise anything with malice you can find enough and more reasons. That is exactly what some bankrupt political stooges are engaged in and they are looked after by the parties with vested interests.

Q: Grassroot level resurrection is a prime need today. Is there any blueprint for such a move?

A: We have launched a comprehensive restructural program from late last year covering all the electorates in the country including North and East.

Our electoral organisers are given targets to achieve during a stipulated time frame. Party branch units, youth leagues and Lakvanitha branches have been set up in all electorates. Party activities, news and new programs are transferred to the grassroot level membership through these local organisations.

Electoral organisers are summoned to the party headquarters every now and then and brief them about the party's new programs and they are expected to carry the messages to the party grassroot level membership through local organisations. We hope to conduct political leadership training sessions for the rural youth in the near future.

We hope to revitalise the propaganda machinery of the party adopting innovations and modern technology by which we hope to popularise our party among all segments of the society.

Q: Uva Provincial Council election is scheduled to be held late this year. How is your party's preparation for same?

A: We have already formulated our propaganda program for the Uva election. On 10th and 11th of May we will conduct a religious program all over the Badulla district. Simultaneously we will conduct a membership recruitment drive too in the district which will be named as Jana Jaya Grameeya Charika. The party is in the process of identifying prospective candidates to field in addition to the sitting members. We are quite confident the UNP will have a significant increase in its vote base at the Uva Pc elections.

Q: your party had decided to have your main May Day rally in Ampara deviating from the long standing tradition of having it in the city. What is the reason for this dramatic change?

A: May Day is basically a workers' and peasants' day and our party decided to hold the May Day rally in Ampara to give the pride of place to the peasants in the district who contribute immensely to the production of the staple food of the nation.

First Prime Minister D.S. Senanayake initiated Galoya Multi Purpose Development Project and J.R. Jayawardene's Mahaveli Diversion project had been of paramount importance to the people in the East for which they are ever grateful to these leaders.

So as a token of gratitude to those leaders and appreciating the contribution of the people in the Eastern province, our party decided to hold the main May Day rally in Ampara in 2014.

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