Desperate bid to remain party leader after 31st
Santa Claus Ranil offers UNP posts
Was UNP’s Chief ministerial candidate Harin Fernando dreaming of
keeping the UNP in the Opposition once more by handing over power of the
Uva Provincial Council to the UPFA?
Political observers said that Harin’s statement after the UNP’s
defeat at the Uva Provincial Council elections last weekend gives such a
meaning, uncovering the hidden agenda of certain quarters within the
party who were delighted that the party has suffered its 31st election
defeat under the shaky leadership of Opposition leader Ranil
It was no surprise that the rebels and reformists within the UNP were
daydreaming of a defeat so that they could exert pressure on Ranil to
step down and bring in Sajith Premadasa.
The UNP’s dream and that of Ranil was nothing else, but to win the
Uva Provincial Council elections. If that had happened, Harin would have
become the Chief Minister. But now, it appears that Harin was never
aspiring to become the Chief Minister after his controversial statement
following the UNP’s defeat - that he had achieved his target at the Uva
Provincial Council elections.
Harin boasted that he pushed the UNP to a winning position even after
his party failed to take control of the Uva PC. At the same time, he had
admitted that the UNP had not attracted the votes of the plantation
Tamils sufficiently in the Badulla district. This trend, he said, had
prevented the party from getting an overall majority in the district.
UPFA Chief Ministerial candidate Shashindra Rajapaksa obtained the
highest number of preferential votes from the Moneragala District
securing 96,619 votes. Ananda Kumarasiri of the UNP secured the highest
number of preferential votes with 24,421 votes from the district.
UNP Chief Ministerial candidate Harin Fernando received the highest
number of preferential votes from the Badulla district with 173,993
votes while Anura Vidanagamage finished on top of the UPFA list from the
same district with 59,316 preferential votes.
It seems that some UNPers have responded to Parliamentarian Ranjan
Ramanayake’s call to support the JVP’s chief ministerial candidate
Samantha Vidyaratne, as he has obtained 14,161 preferential votes.
UPFA wins with comfortable majority
United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) won the Uva Provincial
Council in convincing fashion winning 19 out of the 34 seats on offer,
polling a total of 349,906 votes. The UPFA made a clean sweep of
Moneragala bagging all three electorates in the district with huge
majorities and won six of the nine electorates in the Badulla district.
The UNP bagged 13 seats and the JVP two. The Democratic Party of
Sarath Fonseka not only failed to win a seat but received a paltry 6,076
votes from the entire Uva Province. Political observers say the UPFA’s
victory at the Uva Provincial election shows that the people have
reposed faith in the UPFA, led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The UNP won by slim majorities in Welimada, Hali-ela and Badulla
polling divisions. The Welimada polling division was won by the UNP with
a majority of a mere 750 votes. The UPFA’s victory in the backdrop of a
vicious campaign launched by the UNP in connivance with the JVP and
Democratic Party is a clear endorsement of the Government’s vision for a
peaceful and prosperous Sri Lanka, transcending political differences,
these observers noted.
The UPFA won the Moneragala electorate by a majority of over 22,000
votes, Wellawaya by over 21,000 and Bibile by over 16,000. The UPFA
polled 33,307 votes in Bibile which was badly affected by the drought
while the UNP secured only 16,229 votes.
The UNP gained only 13 seats in the Uva Provincial Council while the
JVP had to be content with a mere two seats. The UPFA’s 19 seats
included the two bonus seats by virtue of winning both districts that
make up the Uva Province.
In the Moneragala district, the UPFA secured eight seats by polling
140,850 votes with the UNP taking the second slot with five seats.
Political analysts pointed out that the UNP lost their stronghold
Passara where the party held its 68th anniversary almost on the eve of
the election. “The people have delivered a slap in the face to the
Democratic Party which was unable to secure even a single seat”. They
said the people have rejected the Democratic Party which launched a
massive election campaign motivated by the slight uptick in voting for
them, in the Western and Southern provincial council elections.
Susil: UPFA lacked new faces
General Secretary of the UPFA Susil Premajayantha has said that
failure to field young and new faces in the Badulla District prevented
the UPFA extending its victory margin at last weekend’s polls.
Addressing the media at the SLFP head office, Environment and
Renewable Energy Minister Premajayantha said the media must not compare
the 2009 and 2010 PC polls results with the Uva PC polls results as they
were held at a time the entire country was basked in euphoria of the
victory against terrorism.
"The President and the government were extremely popular at that time
as the polls were held soon after the victory on the conclusion of the
humanitarian operation. Though there has been a drop of voter support
for the UPFA at this election, we have been able to win two very strong
UNP bastions of Mahiyangana and Passara constituencies in spite of it
being won by the UNP in 2009, which is a huge victory for the UPFA,” he
Asked whether the government was ready to change its election
strategies in future following Saturday’s election results, Minister
Premajayantha said the government changed its strategies from election
The minister did not rule out the possibility of conducting the
Presidential election in 2015 as speculated by many and added the
government was ready to face any election as it had won eight out of
nine PC polls held in the recent past and polled almost double of what
UNP had polled at these elections.
JVP - further into political wilderness
The JVP new their fate even before the nominations were called for
the Uva PC. Hence, all JVP members were instructed by the party
leadership to follow various strategies to cover their political nudity.
Their main strategy was to lodge as many as election-related
complaints at NGOs monitoring elections. At the same time, the JVP
candidates were strictly instructed to take only the actual complaints
to the police as the police would hold immediate investigations. If the
complaints were found false, police apprehended those who had lodged
them. Hence, the JVP was clever enough to lodge their false complaints
only to the NGOs monitoring the elections.
The JVP bagged only two slots, a seat each from Moneragala and
Badulla districts, at the Uva Provincial Council polls. Instead of
talking about their political nudity, the JVP attempted to undermine the
UPFA’s victory, alleging that the ruling party suffered the worst
Addressing a post-election press conference, JVP leader
Parliamentarian Anura Kumara Dissanayake said the UPFA, as the ruling
party, declared this election as a launching point for its political
programme targeting the next Presidential election.
Dissanayake said the government went to polls in the Uva Province, as
the last of a series of such Provincial Council elections, in the hope
of securing the highest victory as a morale boost.
He made a subtle attempt to paint a wrong picture by adding the votes
polled by the JVP and the UNP, which would never unite at a general or
presidential election. “The UPFA received the narrowest victory at this
election. In Badulla, the opposition has outnumbered the government in
the total votes polled,” the JVP leader said in a desperate attempt to
cover their political bankruptcy.
The JVP leader, which was boasting of gaining power at Uva PC seemed
to be more than happy with the two seats they managed to secure. “Last
time, we had only one seat. Now, we have two seats. We did not have a
representation in Moneragala last time. There is one this time,” he
said. However, he admitted that the party could not win enough seats to
be a decisive factor in running the council.
Most UNP seniors were shocked by the popularity of Harin Fernando
among their party supporters. Some identified Harin as a threat to their
political careers and discussed appropriate matters.
UNP General Secretary and parliamentarian Tissa Attanayake on Monday
submitted his resignation from the party’s Leadership Council headed by
Karu Jayasuriya. He had sent his letter of resignation to UNP national
leader Ranil Wickremesinghe with a copy to Jayasuriya.
In his letter of resignation, Attanayake said he was deeply hurt by
the behavior of some members in the leadership council during the past
few months, alleging that some members of the leadership council had
criticised him for his stance with regard to Hambantota District
parliamentarian Sajith Premadasa.
The UNP General Secretary also accused these members of criticising
him publicly through media. Therefore, he said he could no longer sit in
the leadership council.
“The situation in the leadership council does not allow me to remain
in it and I cannot continue as a member of the leadership council
against my conscience,” he said.
On the following day, UNP Assistant Leader Joseph Michael Perera said
that he had resigned from his post to pave the way for younger members
to take over.
Sajith regains UNP deputy leadership
After years of struggle within the party, the reformist group, UNP MP
Sajith Premadasa was finally re-appointed deputy leader of the UNP by
the party’s Working Committee on Monday. Colombo District MP Ravi
Karunanayake who showed severe opposition to Sajith’s return as the
deputy leader, was appointed assistant leader.
Ranil was forced to make some lavish appointments after Harin proved
his popularity among the UNPer, but the UNP leader made sure that the
majority of the new appointments goes to his confidants.
For an instance, Kurunegala District MP Akila Viraj Kariyawasam was
brought from nowhere to be appointed deputy general secretary and
parliamentarian Eran Wickremeratne as treasurer.
At the same time, Ranil attempted to satisfy all by appointing
parliamentarian Thalatha Atukorala as the secretary of election affairs
and parliamentarian Ranjith Madduma Bandara as senior vice president. In
making such appointments, Ranil was planning to woo inside support to
cement his UNP candidature for the next presidential election.
A jubilant Sajith said that he would support UNP national leader
Ranil Wickremesinghe unconditionally at the presidential election and
gave an assurance that he would contribute his fullest to bring about
“UNP National Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe nominated me as the deputy
leader and it was unanimously approved by the working committee. I have
got an opportunity to give my contribution and strength to save the
country which is politically and economically in a mess, and take the
people towards prosperity under a UNP government.
I will support our leader at the presidential election without any
conditions,” he said.
Eran on uniting the party
Ranil’s strategy of satisfying all – awarding strategic positions to
his confidants with the future in mind and sharing the balance among the
reformist group rebels was obvious by several statements made by his
UNP parliamentarian Eran Wickremeratne said it was a historic
decision to come together as one unit by shedding differences to take
the party towards victory.
“The unity of the party has further been proved through the new
appointments by the working committee. We have only one objective and
that is to set up a UNP government very soon,” he said.
Ranil who chaired the meeting told the UNP working committee that any
of them could object to the appointment of Sajith Premadasa, if they
wished, before the appointment was made. However no one had objected.
Ruwan offers to step down
Following Harin Fernando proving his popularity among UNPer, Gampaha
District parliamentarian Ruwan Wijewardene offered to step down from his
position in the party - as the President of the party’s youth wing – the
National Youth Front.
Ruwan offered to step down and make way for Harin Fernando.
“Harin had sacrificed his parliamentary membership for the UNP to
contest the elections for the Uva Provincial Council. He has proved that
positions are of no value when it comes to the wellbeing of the party.
Therefore, I made this decision to resign as Chairman of the NYF and
give to Harin the praise he deserves,” Ruwan was quoted as saying.
Knowing that it would be an uphill task and not easy as polling
preferential votes from Badulla, Harin had said he was not in a position
to accept any such post at present.
He later told media that the UNP must work for the people of Uva.
“My prime concern is to work for the party more than any position but
nevertheless I will work in my new post,” Harin said.
“I’m truly honoured by his gesture but I don’t want to be NYF
Chairman by ousting Ruwan.
He should stay as the Chairman and I will always help him. He has
already launched many programmes through the NYF with an upcoming
general election in mind,” he said and added that. Wijewardene was an
honest politician with good qualities.
Meanwhile, loud cheers greeted Sajith Premadasa when he came out of
Sirikotha after he was appointed deputy leader, a post he earned after a
But according to the UNP constitution, any member is free to file
objections to the new appointments within seven days.
The leadership council is not likely to be abolished immediately as
many of the working committee members had said the council had done the
party much good.
Akila confirms Ranil as presidential candidate
UNP parliamentarian Akila Viraj Kariyawasam’s first job after being
appointed Deputy General Secretary of the party was to cement his
leader’s place as their presidential election candidate.
Akila told a news conference at party headquarters Sirikotha on
Tuesday that UNP National Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe would be the
party’s presidential candidate.
“The UNP will not field any other candidate but will have its present
leader as the presidential because what people want is a leader who is
not corrupt, who can develop the economy and who is not interested in
earning commissions,” he said. Overjoyed by his new position and plans
to replace even Tissa Attanayake in the future as the General Secretary,
Akila said the UNP was going to take the people to the streets and
people have shown that they were ready to do so.
President in New York
President Mahinda Rajapaksa arrived in New York City last week and
addressed the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
It was the President’s seventh address to the General Assembly,
taking the Sri Lankan identity to the highest world forum.
In addition to the 69th session of the U.N. General Assembly, the
President is also participated in several other major international
events that took place last week including the Climate Summit 2014, the
Annual Meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative and a meeting with the
Commonwealth Heads of Governments.
President Rajapaksa joined former US State Secretary Hillary Clinton
at the 2014 annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) to
extend Sri Lanka’s support to the Elephant Action Network that works
toward the conservation of the endangered animals.
Several other leaders joined President Rajapaksa on stage for the
event, including Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, the President of
Gabon Ali Bongo Ondimba and the Deputy Prime Minister of Vietnam Pham
Binh Minh. The initiative was primarily aimed at putting an
international spotlight on the crisis facing African elephants.
Speaking at the event, President Ondimba called on the world to come
together to take concrete action to save Africa’s elephants, pointing
out that collective actions will determine the future of these majestic
animals. President Rajapaksa participated in the event following an
invitation by former Secretary Clinton earlier this year.