Karu Jayasuriya has announced that he’s contesting for the post of UNP leader, opposition leader effectively. Sadly, Sri Lankan parties have no internal democracies (like US primary races to select party candidates) and it seems like Ranil is trying to bury any challengers in bureaucracy. Sajith Premadasa is also pushing Karu as a proxy, which makes it a bit of a weak attempt. What was interesting, however, was what the two challengers said in their letters.
No less than sixty one (61) UNP parliamentarians have crossed over to the government party and out of the 61 Cabinet members of the present UPFA government, nearly 25%, were elected as UNP MPs in the Parliamentary elections, the latest defection being 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. (via DBS Jeyaraj)
We preach on the need for free expression. It is not allowed within our party. We preach for democracy. There is no democracy in our party. We preach on the need for transparency. There is no transparency in the party. We preach for unity in the party. Instead there is devious manipulation to cause disharmony and seek revenge.We complain of authoritarianism in the government but forget it is there in greater measure in our party.
As co-deputy leader, Sajith Premadasa, said in a letter to me, this is why 61 MPs have crossed over to the UPFA government in the recent years. Some of them hold influential cabinet positions. This is why, as he points out, in sixteen years, commencing from 1994, our Party voting bloc has gone down from 45% to a dismal 29%.
Can the actions of one person or a small coterie be allowed to continue this systematic destroying of our party? I asked myself whether the United National Party can continue to betray the public confidence imposed on them. I am convinced overwhelmingly that we cannot. We owe a duty to all our party followers, the public and the country. (via DBS Jeyaraj)
The statistics are shocking, there is no way a party leader should stay after losing so much, and usually internally party pressure and self-respect would cause them to step down. Ranil Wickremesinghe hasn’t, necessitating this turn of affairs, and even this he looks bound to scuttle through internal party legalistic finagling.
What I don’t get is why Karu. He left the party to support the war effort and came back weakened. He’s also old and not really a new direction for the party. I don’t get why Sajith doesn’t stake a claim and contest for himself.