By Faraz Shauketaly
A leading member of the UNP campaigning for reform and democratisation of the UNP, Thalatha Athukorale told The Sunday Leader that they had every intention of having New Year breakfast with the winner of the internal election to elect a new leader for the UNP. According to the amended constitution of the party, the party must have an election or reach a consensus latest by April 12 – the Sinhala & Tamil New Year falling on April 13, 2011.
Thousands are expected to gather at Sri Kotha on April 12, in anticipation of an official announcement being made of a new leader.
A senior UNP parliamentarian said that a “path breaking sea of change” will envelope the UNP as party members had waited for the results of the reforms purely because of the local government elections. Insiders have confirmed that Ranil Wickremesinghe will certainly be contesting the election for the position of party leader and has no intention of handing the reins to Sajith Premadasa without a fight.. Opinion within the party estimate that Premadasa will receive some 55% of the vote for party leader – a comfortable majority given that large numbers of members were appointed by Wickremesinghe over the years.
Ms Athukorale whose brother, the late Gamini Athukorale was a Cabinet Minister in the last UNP led government, was herself the subject of speculation earlier in the week when a party supporter fell at her feet and said that he had dreamed of her as prime minister. As she rose to speak, Ms Athukorale told her audience in Kalawana that the “Athukorale family have only ever wanted for the UNP to be victorious – that is not a dream and reality will be sooner rather than later” – she added that she did not aspire for prime minister positions even in her dreams.