UNP leadership must acknowledge people’s message - Prof. Ashu Marasinghe | Sunday Observer

UNP leadership must acknowledge people’s message - Prof. Ashu Marasinghe

9 August, 2020

Former UNP MP, Prof.Ashu Marasinghe, a candidate in the Parliamentary election 2020 said the party leadership must acknowledge the people’s message in the 2020 Parliamentary election result. “We must accept the fact that there needs to be a genuine effort to reorganise the UNP, it is a long-felt need and today more than ever it has been felt. And if we don’t succumb to that call, the party will not survive,”he told the Sunday Observer soon after the all island election results was announced early Friday.

The United National Party suffered a humiliating defeat at last week’s General Election on Wednesday (August 5). None of the UNP’s 262 candidates, managed to secure a seat at the election, recording the party’s biggest deafeat in its history. The UNP bagged only 249,435 votes which earned them a single national seat slot in the Ninth Parliament. They lagged behind the JVP led JJB and TNA backed ITAK to slump to the fifth place in the overall result.

While the SJB polled 2.7 million votes, the JJB won 445,958 and ITAK won 327,168 votes island wide.

“Looking at the election results, we need to take stock as to where we went wrong. Our vote base has shockingly eroded, this is clearly evident if you consider the November 2019 Presidential Election results against the latest result,” he said.

The UNP secured 5.5 million votes at the November Presidential election in which UNP presidential candidate, Sajith Premadasa, became the runner-up.

He also said that those who fragmented the party and abandoned it should also take responsibility for this downfall.

Prof. Marasinghe was alluding to Sajith Premadasa and the former UNP members of Parliament who deserted the ‘old green party’ and joined the new Samagi Jana Balawegaya to contest the General Election. Premadasa, who struggled to be the successor to the party’s throne with support from the majority in the Working Committee, walked out with over 100 UNP MPs when Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe despite early manifestations of stepping down, decided to hang on to the seat till 2025. According to the party constitution, which was amended after Wickremasinghe’s ascent, the sitting leader could continue in the top post till 2025.

The Mano Ganeshan led Tamil Progressive Alliance, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) and Rishad Bathiudeen led All Ceylon Makkal Congress and other small parties threw their weight behind the SJB after the breakaway. The TNA also indicated that they were supporting the Sajith Premadasa faction at the election.

“The result is an indication that people believe a team led by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa should govern the country for the next five years.

I don’t support that view but that is obviously the message spelt out in the election result.

If you look at the candidates leading in the preferential lists, they are the people chosen by Gotabaya Rajapaksa. We respect the people’s mandate,” he said.

As a result of the ‘old green party’s stupefying defeat many prominent former UNP MPs lost their parliamentary seats. Among them are Ranil Wickremasinghe (might return thanks to the national seat slot), Ravi Karunanayake, Daya Gamage, Palitha Thewarapperuma (Kalutara), Shanthini Kongahage (Kandy), Manel Kumari Wijeratne (Matale), Navin Dissanayake (Nuwara Eliya), Anoma Gamage (Digamadulla), Akila Viraj Kariyawasam (Kurunegala), Range Bandara (Puttalam) and Vijayakala Maheswaran

Former UPFA MP Mervyn Silva who contested from the Anuradhapura district under the UNP ticket also lost the election.

“There are fresh faces elected, he has been given two-thirds majority. If he selects the best team to walk with him, he might be able to do good for the country, that is what the people are expecting, I believe,” Prof. Marasinghe said.

He said, “In Gampaha, Colombo and Anuradhapura districts, going by the candidates who won with the highest preferential votes, you can see that people have high hopes that they will do genuine work sans corruption. Most of the elected are fresh faces with professional backgrounds.

I hope the President will read well the people’s mandate and execute his task with no room for disappointment at the end of his five-year term. If he chooses the ‘old lot’, to be in is Cabinet, it is not going to work.”

“We have decided to discuss the leadership issue at the next meeting. We are going to meet soon. Definitely, we need to be open, direct and honest in addressing this issue.

We cannot shy away form the fact that it had a major role to play in the dreadful defeat the party suffered at the 2020 General Election,” he added.