| by Sajith Premadasa
(December 04, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) It is with a profound sense of personal responsibility and of national obligation that I write to you, not only as a sitting Member of Parliament of the United National Party, but also as a true disciple of democratic principles that our Party has always represented and striven to uphold. In the current political context, the plight of our Party is abysmal. Our support base has been dwindling progressively ever since 1994 as illustrated in the successive elections held since the untimely deaths of our leaders, R Premadasa, Lalith Athulathmudali and Gamini Dissanayake.
The fundamental function of a political party is to come to power to steer the politico-socio-economic destinies of the country in the right direction. If one tries to disengage oneself from this basic premise, one does it at one’s own peril. After the massive victory that we obtained in 1977 under the most astute leadership of the late J R Jayewardene, our Party continued to persuade the majority of our people to repose faith in our policies and principles. And they did so with joy and love. During this period what was once known as “Unge Naedayinge Pakshaya” (Their Relatives’ Party-UNP) underwent a qualitative transformation. The rural masses that once treated the UNP as a Colombo-based elitist club began to treat it as their own home. People waited in line to vote for the Party. They waited in line to donate labor, time and money for the Party. Such a rich heritage now belongs to the dustbin of the past.
Once again, in addition to our Party being branded as an elitist, political club dominated by English-speaking, unpatriotic clan, the undemocratic way the present leader is conducting its affairs is posing a fundamental threat to the cherished democratic rights and principles of our members. In light of these developments it has become urgent that we take some meaningful steps in order to ameliorate the situation. What took place yesterday at our group meeting, especially with regard to our dear colleague, Buddika Pathirana, speaks volumes as to the attitude and demeanor of our present leader. When you couple that with the unfortunate defection of Mohan Lal Grero from our ranks, we are left with a pathetic state of affairs at this present critical juncture of our Party’s history. Since the defeat at the last parliamentary elections, I have been traveling around the country meeting our supporters on a very consistent basis.
What reverberates in my mind is their persistent cry: “Sir, if you want to go forward, change the leadership.” I am only echoing that heart-wrenching emotion of our supporters. What they have to relate to is indeed a very sad tale. During the sixteen years, commencing from 1994, the support base of our Party has gone down from 45% to a dismal 29%. During the same period, the number of elected members of parliament has dwindled from 93 to 51. However, the present Parliament has only 42 UNP MPs, solely due to defections to the government side from 2010 to date. If this is “satisfactory”, I dread to think as to what is “unsatisfactory”! No less than sixty one (61) UNP parliamentarians have crossed over to the government party. Out of the 61 Cabinet members of the present UPFA government, nearly 25%, were elected as UNP MPs in the Parliamentary elections. To this embarrassing list is added the latest defection- our colleague Mohan Lal Grero. In such a sad state of affairs our supporters’ disgust is quite understandable. If the Leader of our party cannot empathize with them, there in fact, the tragedy lies with the Leader, not with the supporters.
This urges all of us to resort to a fundamentally sound course of action. It is therefore, with a deep sense of urgency and honor, I request you to stand for election for the post of Leader of our Party. In this instance I recall my earlier communication addressed to the Leader-which was endorsed by you-in which I emphasized the significance of completing the process of the fully-fledged Working Committee. It is of critical importance that this process is brought to a conclusion before holding of elections for office bearers of the Party. It is my firm belief that you are the only person who can take up the challenge of unifying our fractured Party and forging ahead with clear-cut policies and programs for the benefit of the country. Hundreds of thousands of our supporters will welcome this as a very positive development and they will undoubtedly embrace you as our new leader. With my warm regards, Sincerely,
CC. Honorable Ranil Wickramasinghe,
Leader, United National Party
All UNP Parliamentarians
All Members of the Working Committee,