A call for democratization of the UNP | Sunday Observer

A call for democratization of the UNP

State Minister of Power and Renewable Energy and Deputy Government Whip Ajith P. Perera says, the key issue for the UNP is the democratization of the party since the Party Leader enjoys almost all executive powers within the party. In an interview with the Sunday Observer, the State Minister said, the UNP rank and file, and even the Ruwan Wijewardene Committee report have recommended that the party should have a democratic constitution. Therefore, we have to change the relevant sections of the constitution, especially, giving the right to elect the Leader and the other positions of the party by way of elections.

Excerpts of the interview:

Q: What was the outcome of the UNP Working Committee meeting held on Thursday (April 26)?

A: The Working Committee approved the list of office bearers presented by the Party Leader. The Working Committee also agreed to amend the party constitution in keeping with the recommendations of the Ruwan Wijewardene Committee to democratize the party constitution.

Q: What is the mandate of the 12- member Politburo of which you are a member?

A: The UNP elected a 12-member politburo to introduce internal reforms and restructuring, and recommend new party office-bearers. It is a new body appointed by Parliamentarians and Working Committee members to make political decisions at the highest level. The Working Committee is a bigger body with 95 members. It is difficult to take a decision with 95 members. So, we need a smaller decision making body-a political council which would be the ideal solution. This can be treated as the highest political decision making body in the party. The Politburo will be included in the party constitution with necessary amendments. It will take all the decisions pertaining to the party in the future.

Q: What are the areas you are looking at to improve, as part of party reforms?

A: The key issue is the democratization of the party. As at date, especially, after the famous Katharagama Convention, the Leader of the party enjoys almost all executive powers within the party. Now, we all agree, and even the Ruwan Wijewardene Committee report says, the party should have a democratic constitution. So, we have to change relevant sections of the constitution, especially, giving the right to elect the Leader and the other positions by way of elections.

Q: One allegation against the UNP leadership is that the party has not groomed a second rung of leaders to take the party forward. Is the party reforms committee looking into this aspect?

A: Definitely. This is a real issue and we would certainly look into this aspect.

Q: The recent LG poll was an eye-opener for most political parties. What are the lessons that the UNP has learnt from this experience and what can be done to improve the situation from the UNP’s point of view?

A: The people comprehensively rejected the Government policies. That is my view on the outcome of the LG election results. The mismanagement of the Government is also a reason. The fighting between the SLFP and the UNP was the worst thing, the people rejected it. Especially, the kind of non-cooperation of the SLFP Ministers in Government business became a big issue. The people view it as a negative aspect in the Government. We delayed the LG election intentionally and the people are aware of it. They resorted to punish us on that issue as well. That was a big mistake. We should have held the LG elections immediately after the Presidential Election.

Q: How has the No Confidence Motion (NCM) against the Prime Minister affected or changed the UNP?

A: It was a truly democratic exercise. It was an opportunity given to the Government to win the NCM with a comfortable majority, correct its policies and have a better management. It also exposed the traitors within the Government, and exposed some of those working for the Pohottuwa, while enjoying all perks and privileges as Ministers, without any positive work done for the Government. They have left the Government, and that is a good thing. Especially, the status of the Prime Minister was strengthened, which is good for the Government. Therefore, the UNP is the clear winner in this process. It was a rare opportunity given to the Government to correct its policies and actions. The ongoing reform process is also a result of the NCM.

Q: Has the party leadership accepted the fact that the UNP rank and file wants to see drastic changes within the party?

A: The politburo and the three Sub Committees appointed by the UNP has understood those grave issues. Definitely, we have to work on policy changes, management reforms of the Government and democratization of the party constitution. We have to really concentrate on these three aspects.

Q: Due to the defection of 16 SLFP MPs to the Opposition, there has been a dramatic change in the country’s political landscape. In the light of this, will the UNP eventually try to form a Government of its own by ditching the National Unity Government partner, the SLFP?

A: No. There is no question of moving away from the National Unity Government. I think there is a solemn understanding between the SLFP and the UNP as well as the President and the Prime Minister on the National Unity Government. The National Unity Government will go ahead until the 2019 November Presidential Election.

Q: What are the steps being taken by the reforms committee to address dissent in the UNP. The UNP MPs voted against the NCM, though several of them had earlier openly criticized the UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe. There is a rumour that some of these MPs will be given ministerial portfolios. What is your comment on this issue?

A: I do not wish to comment on this. According to my knowledge there is no such undertaking given, as yet.

Q: The 16 SLFP MPs who quit the Government have said that the SLFP should leave the National Unity Government and let the UNP continue with the Government. What is your response to this?

A: That is their view, but the majority of the SLFP MPs don’t want to leave the Government. They have decided to continue with the UNP in the National Unity Government until it completes its full term.

Q: Whatever the other changes, if there is no change in the leadership, do you think the UNP can face the challenge of the electorate?

A: Yes. Then, the UNP would have to change its policies in a drastic and patriotic manner. The party will have to listen to the voice of the poor people and the middle class and change its management team. We have to wait and see. We need lot of reforms in those fronts.

Q: Even if the youth is given ministerial portfolios, it will have no effect at all if the old party veterans are brought in through the National List. Your comments?

A: We need experts and mature professionals in the Cabinet. But, I know there are issues about some Ministers and I don’t wish to comment on their actions. It is up to the President and the Prime Minister to decide on the correct solution.

We will observe the progress of those Ministers and challenge them in the proper manner on their performance, not on age or seniority. That is our assessment. Opportunity should be given to qualified MPs in the party. So we have to wait and see what happens. 

Comments

Where have the Statesman or Gentleman Politicians gone? It is a pity that we are now left with shameless, power crazy Political Crooks. If Ranil does not step down as Leader of UNP and from Premiership, he is certainly going to bury the party with him while destroying the Country.