UNP to reorganise itself | Sunday Observer

UNP to reorganise itself

27 December, 2020

The United National Party (UNP) is discussing about forming a broader political coalition, its Deputy Leader Ruwan Wijewardene said. But, he said , this should be done with care to avoid clash of ideologies of different political parties.

Q. The UNP had a trying few months, especially with the breakaway of a faction to form a separate party. But you said during a media interview that you would re-emerge stronger. What did you mean by this?

A. I think the UNP has a good chance now to get new faces involved and bring new blood into the party. People are now quite fatigued by politicians and they are looking new leaders to emerge.

I think the UNP is now in a position where we can get new people involved and re-brand ourselves and re-emerge in a stronger position by the next General Election. Then, hopefully have a good result in the next election.

Q. When you say new faces, where are you looking for these new faces?

A. It has been encouraging actually. I have been going to various districts during the past few days trying to get the grassroot organisations re-activated. When we go to these areas, we keep finding people who are interested to come into politics. I believe that in a few months we will be able to get good, honest professionals coming into the party and we will be able to build it from there.

Q. The more pressing issue now will be the filling of the National seat. What is going to happen to that?

A. For that, the majority in the party was of the view that Ranil Wickremesinghe should on the National list. But he has pretty much said that he is not interested to go in now. So, I think we are going to have a Working Committee meeting soon.

We will have a discussion and basically take a decision about who will go in. By January, when Parliament starts, we will send our representative.

Q. What part will you play in this?

A. I’ve been given the task of the Deputy Leader to re-vamp the party and get the grassroots activated. So, that is what we’ve been doing the past few days. District wise-speaking to organisers, getting their ideas and then roll the National Plan and how to go forward and face challenges in the near future. So, that will be my role for a couple of months.

Q. Will you take up the position as the Leader of the Party?

A. Right now all that depends on how the results I show, I guess. If the majority of my peers feel that I have done a good job and if they have the confidence in me then yes, eventually when the leadership changes and if I am offered, I will take it up.

Q. Ranil Wickremesinghe said that he will be stepping down in January. What role will he play after stepping down?

A. I believe that there is a lot to gain from him. Unfortunately, the majority of people in the country don’t know the value of his knowledge about the economy and various other issues in the country. I believe that he should be around in some sort of way, even in an advisory capacity so that the country can benefit.

The next step will be facing the economic issues in this country. Not many politicians in Sri Lanka right now know what kind of direction the economy should take in this country. That knowledge is there with Ranil Wickremesinghe.

With Covid-19 the whole world has gone into recession and every country is having their own economic difficulties.

For a country such as Sri Lanka, we cannot alienate one part of the world and look at one country to bail us out economically. We will have to rely on the World Bank and the IMF, and other Western countries.

Q. The UNP has not been on a stable ground for a while, how are you planning to bring all the members together and work for the vision that the party has?

A. I think one of the main reasons why we had this huge defeat at the General Election was that the normal UNP voter was sick and tired of the fighting within the party. And also the breakaway of the Sajith faction.

There has to be a proper cohesiveness. Now, we have to work together to bring the party back to its past glory. There is no other option but to work together. We have to learn from all those past issues and make sure that they don’t happen in the future.

The UNP is not a family-oriented party. Now of course with the Pohottuwa it is the Rajapaksa family. It is not the case with the UNP, and that creates issues in the party itself because there are 4-5 people always clamouring to take a position. Now, we have to work together because it is not about who gets what position but how we can serve the people better.

Q. What is the plan you have for 2021?

A. The economy is going to be a huge issue. The country is going to be without money, and right now this government has lost the popularity it had at the beginning of this year.

In 2021, the UNP is going to reorganise, strengthen ourselves and come forward as a viable opposition because there is criticism that there is no strong opposition to take this government on. I think by reorganisng we will be able to take that position.

Q. Does that also mean that you will be collaborating with other parties including the SJB next year?

A. Well, most of them in the SJB are those who worked with us in the UNP. We have a President right now, with the 20A, who has a lot of power in his hands. This government has the 2/3 majority in Parliament.

So, if you have to fight a government like that, I think not only the UNP and the SJB but other opposition parties will have to come together.

This is something we are discussing at the moment. I think that (having a broad political coalition) should be the case. I don’t think any party can do it alone being in the opposition. So, there has to be a grand coalition at some point.

It is good to go into an election as a coalition but when you win the election and come into the Government as a coalition then only will the issues come up.

Various parties will have various ideas and then of course the confusion starts again. I think we should sit down and come up with a proper National Plan.