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An open letter to Ranil Wickremesinghe

My dear Ranil

For a long time, I have been waiting to write to you. The several personal letters under strictly private and confidential cover with the further legend 'For the Leaders eyes only' has had absolutely no effect. So I decided to go public.

The various elections, culminating in the farce, that was the elections to the Colombo Municipality prevented me from penning this letter earlier as I did not want to jeopardize the chances of my party and our candidates, specially those of Mr. Sirisena Cooray. When I mentioned to Cooray that I would be writing an open letter to you in the same vein that I wrote to Mahinda Rajapaksa before the elections, he cautioned me that I should not write or say anything against you. The same advice was given by a top government law officer who you think is anti-you because of his personal friendship with Mahinda.

Ranil, I am senior to you both in the party and in politics - May be because I am an 'Old codger' at 63. In 1970 I was assigned to the Elections Desk by your father who was my boss at Lake House at the time, to work along with W. B. Mettananda of the Dinamina who was head of the Elections Desk.

You were a student at Royal at the time and I remember how you used to visit me at my humble lodgings at No. 7, Charles Place with your head bent because of the low roof to inquire of me what seats we were winning and what seats we were losing.

Can you remember Mr. Dudley Senanayake heading the Anti-Press Bill march with the other Opposition Leaders with their mouths gagged in symbolic protest when we were tear-gassed near Lipton Circus? You were felled in the melee and had to be carried to the petrol filling station owned by Sunethra Ranasinghe's father Mr. S. de S. Jayasinghe which was at the Rosmead Place - Alexandra Road junction. One of the persons who took first to the filling-station and then to the accident ward was Abeyratne Pilapitiya of Kalawana, the ex-MP and ex-Governor who even today is a UNPer though utterly disillusioned with your leadership. You were so grateful to 'Abe' you held his hand and told him you will never forget him. The very next day or the day after you ran into 'Abe' at a function and you completely ignored him!

Even then you suffered from the grave disease of not recognising your friends. Little wonder then that they detest you. The other day you attended Denga's (Denzil Gunaratne's) Silks party at the Cinnamon Plaza. Denga's sister-in-law Madhuri, is an ardent UNPer. She is married to Bandula Dias, Vinnie Dias's (UNP ex-Deputy Minister and Uva Provincial Councillor's brother). Madhuri's father was killed by the JVP, setting him ablaze in his own vehicle. So when you showed up Madhuri was jubilant. As usual you just breezed by like the tsunami and Madhuri was telling all the UNPers at the Party - 'the leader came! the leader came!. But not a cat took a notice of what she said and Madhuri came up to me and said 'See Buddhika, nobody took notice of what I said'.

Ranil, that shows that you are getting the dose of your own medicine.

We helped you to be the Leader of the Party. When Gamini Dissanayake challenged you to the leadership Nanda Mathew MP was one who spearheaded your campaign.

Today you have lost him as well.

Everybody agrees that your integrity is unquestionable.

I have often compared you to a gold Rolex wrist watch which doesn't show the correct time. When I walk on the road sometimes passers-by ask me the time. When I respond they never ask, 'Sir' is your wristlet a Rolex, a Roamer or a Seiko. 'If the cat catches mice, it doesn't matter if the cat is made of clay,' is a famous Sinhala proverb.

You are like Rip Van Winkle - except that when Rip Van Winkle slept only for 7 years you have doubled the time of your political slumber and no wonder the mice are led astray without the 'Pied Piper'.

Sarath Kongahage was to be nominated for one vacancy on behalf of the slain 'Ossie'. Nobody objected to this. But what went wrong was your ex-parte arrogant decision to appoint Dinesh Dodangoda, a persona-non-grata as far as the UNP was concerned. This 'Dinesh Dodangoda had his roots in Dodangoda, a hamlet in the Ambalangoda electorate which I represented (and which remains unrepresented by any MP of any political party after me). His background was a strong anti-UNP background.

But you did not have the courtesy to ask me for my views as the person who represented the area between 1989 and 1994. Nor did you ask the District Leader Rupa Karunathilaka who was a parliamentarian at the time. Mr. M. S. Amarasiri was aghast upon hearing of your decision. As the then Chief Minister he too was kept in the dark.

What happened? M. S. Amarasiri too left you and we lost a man with a wealth of experience behind him.

I made several proposals to you about the filling of the two vacancies. One was to appoint the sons of the two slain leaders, Premadasa and Gamini to fill the vacant slots. If Sajith was nominated Sarath Kongahage would have gladly sacrificed his 'right' as he had done in many an earlier occasion as he treated Sajith like a son. I also proposed that if that proposal did not find favour with you to appoint a young and educated youth whose parents have been killed by the JVP. You went and appointed Dinesh and became the immediate target of vulgar attacks even from those within the party.

Mr. A. C. S. Hameed threw a rope at me during this time thinking that I would hang. He told me that if he was asked to name 5 persons who had slaved for the party since our defeat in 1994, I would be amongst those five. He said he was canvassing for a Eastern Province, Mushin to be nominated to one of the vacant slot in the National List, and if he failed in his attempt then he would sponsor me.

I did not 'bite'. Nevertheless I thanked him. Where is your Dinesh Dodangoda today?

We even lost Sarath Kongahage, a versatile politician who was an asset to us. Our loss is today Mahinda's gain.

Ranil, I was a mere student when I joined the UNP's All Ceylon Youth League. I was the Founder General Secretary of the first ever UNP Students' Union. The UNP Youth League under the able leadership of Jinadasa Niyathapala became the strongest youth movement of the day.We even lost Niyathapala who was 'Guru' to many a UNPer.

I can go on and on listing the various people 'lost' to us because of you. It takes years to make a man but only a few seconds to break him. You have broken many a man by your arrogance and total lack of concern for your own supporters.

The UNP under you has become like a 'Colombo 7 Club'. The die-hard party cadres lament that your band of 'super kids' have taken over the party.

Ranil - Not that I love my party less but I love my country more. If those newspaper reports about your crying over the shoulders of a shapely diplomat, complaining about Mahinda baiting your MPs are correct then you should be ashamed of yourself.

If the shepherd cannot look after his flock no point in finding fault with the wolf. The sheep are so disgusted with their shepherd that they voluntarily go to the wolf.

Ranil, 'Poaching' MPs is not anything new. Your father, Esmond Wickremesinghe together with his right-handsman of Lake House Denzil Peiris did the same in 1964. Except for a few like C.P., others were paid what would have been millions today to cross over to the UNP to topple Mrs. Bandaranaike's government.

So, why cry foul now?

Everything is fair in love and politics - of the former you know very little and of the latter nothing at all!

In 'poaching' our MPs, Mahinda Rajapaksa is not without fault. There is a way of doing things. To invite a man to discuss national issues to his abode and rob him of one of his men is not the done thing. Not mentioning a word of it to you Ranil is teeming with bad faith on the part of the President. That is to say the last!

Susantha Punchinilame was planning to desert you when you penalised him even before the courts pronounced in verdict in the infamous Nalanda Ellawala Murder Case. On the night of the funeral of the Ven. Balangoda Ananda Maitri Maha Nayaka Thera, a key SLFPer who is a senior Cabinet Minister today told me that Susantha was not the culprit but a man who is a Deputy Minister in the Government even today.

I went to the Welikada Remand Jail to see Susantha and he told me with tears in his eyes, 'Uncle our leader hasn't shown the interest that Jeyaraj (Fernandopulle) showed on me'. I advised Punchinilame not to fall prey to Jeyaraj's traps.

Then Asoka Wadigamangawa was being hounded by the 'Thalagoya' at Anamaduwa with killing of UNP supporters etc. and at Siri Kotha you crossed him in the stairway and completely ignored him.

The man came to Sujatha Dharmawardene's room downstairs and completely broke down wailing that if 'Premadasa was living he would have taken him under his wing!'

Ranil, even today most of the leaders in the Party are utterly disillusioned with you. Like me they will not desert the UNP. We cannot satisfy our anger with the nose by cutting our face. Our endeavour is to clean the face of dirt and soot and make it more 'lookable'.

Those who remain in the party today expect nothing from you. They know that as long as you are the leader we will not have a Government of your own - that's why. Mahinda Rajapaksa is no spring chicken. He knows that his greatest strength is your weakness. As long as you are the leader of the UNP Mahinda feels politically secure.

True, some of the defectors went looking for plums of office. But still others went expecting nothing.

Mahinda has excellent P.R. You cannot run the country only with P.R. That was why I suggested to Mahinda to get you on to his 'Chinthana' Bandwagon. I told him that it would benefit both men. Mahinda is weak in foreign relations and your forte is that. Also if the Leader joined the Government, then there can be no defectors. I also gave a character certificate about you to Mahinda saying that you are not a 'Jara Miniha' like the JVPer with a penchant for high living - ala odel! I told the President that you would never stab him behind the back.

Mahinda called me both before and after the Presidential Elections and offered me a post of 'Advisor'; I declined the offer but accepted his invitation to lunch. Ranil, I tell your the man has a touch of Premadasa in him.

Even if you do join Mahinda which I strongly urge in the national interest, you should never leave the UNP. You have a wealth of knowledge which could benefit a future leader. So you must remain with us and groom up a young man to take the reins of leadership.

Ranil, just because you went to Royal does not make you a leader.

In fact your motto bears ample testimony to this fact.

'Disce Aut-Disce de' ('Learn or Depart!)

You have not learnt so...

I have absolutely no ill-will in writing this letter.

It is not merely bona-fides but uberwae-fides that prompted me to write to you.

May the noble Triple Gem bless you.

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