The UNP’s tumultuous Working Committee meeting on Wednesday resulted in many allegations and jibes thrown back and forth between senior party members.
|Rosie Senanayake yesterday together several UNP members held a press conference at the Bodhi Ranasinghe Foundation Narehenpita following a dispute with the UNP Working Committee. She alleged that the UNP Working Committee was illegal over which remark UNP WC decided to hold a disciplinary inquiry on Wednesday. Here Rosy (left) at the media briefing. Dunesh Gankanda, Thalatha Athukorala, Sujeewa Senasinghe and Budhika Pathirana are also present|
Making a statement at the meeting, UNP Co-Deputy Leader Karu Jayasuriya who has been beset by calls by the UNP reformists group led by MP Sajith Premadasa to take over the leadership of the party, reiterated calls for the UNP to change course and move forward, putting division and pettiness aside for the sake of the Sri Lankan people who had been completely let down by an inept and corrupt regime and an opposition that has been consumed with internal issues.
Jayasuriya claimed he knew there were many vile assertions and allegations being made against him by factions of the party. “A great deal is being said about the fact that I abandoned the UNP with 17 MPs. But the fact of the matter is I left at a time when I believed the country’s need to defeat the scourge of terrorism trumped all else. When that task was completed I returned to my own party, which I believed needed direction and needed to answer the call of the people. I returned not through the back door, but in the open and by invitation. Since then I have worked tirelessly to bring unity and harmony back into this party,” Jayasuriya added.
Although a majority of the group allowed Jayasuriya to say his piece Manju Shri Arangala tried to heckle the Deputy Leader, claiming that he was allowing President Premadasa to make a fool of him. An incensed Jayasuriya responded that it was not quite so easy for people to fool him. “I am no fool. I was raised on mother’s milk and not on Lactogen; so I can tell the difference between the true and the false,” he retorted.
Former Galle District MP and staunch supporter of beleaguered UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe Vajira Abeywardane chided Jayasuriya, claiming he had an obligation to refuse the request of the Premadasa faction that he take up the UNP leadership. “If it was me,” Abeywardane asserted, “I would have said no thank you.” Jayasuriya made a scathing retort claiming that it was up to Abeywardane to do what he thought was best. “You may do as you wish. That is your concern. I will do as I see fit,” the Deputy Leader fired back.
UNP members present at the Working Committee expressed their surprise at the usually placid, pacifist Jayasuriya’s willingness to take on detractors and Wickremesinghe supporters so directly at the already stormy meeting.
Jayasuriya also took Wickremesinghe to task saying that he should not attack the Sirasa TV network because it remains the only channel today that has fearlessly reported events independently despite being repeatedly attacked, bombed and intimidated.
- As an Opposition we require and must therefore defend media organisations that continue to uphold independent reporting standards even while practicing their trade during a period of unprecedented media suppression.