UNP is History
You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time. – Abraham Lincoln This newspaper, in an article published under the heading ‘UNP submits Ranil’s name to EC’ in its Thursday’s issue said, “The United National Party (UNP) submitted the name of its leader Ranil Wickremesinghe to the Election Commission yesterday (16) as the Party’s National List Parliamentarian in the Ninth Parliament.
UNP General Secretary, Palitha Range Bandara stated that Wickremesinghe will be sworn in as an MP on 23 June. The decision to nominate Wickremesinghe as the UNP National List Parliamentarian was arrived at unanimously at the UNP Working Committee meeting on 31 May. While the UNP secured one Parliamentary National List seat during the General Election 2020, the seat remained vacant until a decision was made on who should occupy it.
Chairman of UNP, Vajira Abeywadena stated that even representatives of other parties are of the opinion that Wickremesinghe should occupy the UNP’s sole Parliamentary seat.” Nonetheless, the UNP’s position is like a drowning man clutching at a straw. It has fallen into that pit of no return similar to that which befell the ‘Old Left’ in 1977 when its was wiped out from Sri Lanka’s electoral map by Wickremesinghe’s distinguished uncle J.R. Jayewardene’s UNP at the 21July1977 Parliamentary Poll, all because of one man, that man being Wickremesinghe himself.
Since then, the Old Left comprising the LSSP and the Communist Party (CP) survives because it has been fixed on to the life support machine, first provided by Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga’s and Mahinda Rajapaksa’s SLFP and subsequently by Rajapaksa’s and his younger brother Gotabaya’s SLPP.
These parties on their own (LSSP and CP) not only cannot be a potent political force like what they were prior to the 1977 Parliamentary Poll, it’s also unlikely that they can win a single seat, national list or otherwise at an election, contesting on their own. Likewise, the UNP, Phoenix like, rising from the ashes, like it did, first in 1957 and then again in 1973, is unlikely to take place under Wickremesinghe.
This is because Wickremesinghe, unlike his uncle Jayewardene, responsible for the UNP’s revival both in 1957 and 1973, for one thing, lacks political charisma and astuteness and the other, he himself was responsible for the ruination of the UNP itself. On the other hand, Jayewardene not only had both political charisma and astuteness, but was also responsible for rebuilding a ruined UNP both in 1957 and in 1973, whereas his nephew Wickremesinghe has been doing just the opposite, since he assumed leadership of the party in 1994.
Wickremesinghe destroyed a well oiled UNP when he made himself its leader for life in 1995, i.e. one year after he became its leader, which in itself is a record, because the founding of the UNP in 1946 was based on democratic principles from within, thereby making it easy to propagate such democratic principles without.
On the other hand, his bête noire Sajith Premadasa has never made himself the leader for life of the SJB. According to the SJB Constitution, its leader will be appointed by its National Executive Committee each year. Premadasa is the SJB’s current leader. That is the difference between Premadasa’s SJB and Wickremesinghe’s UNP, democracy versus dictatorship.
In that backdrop and more; how can the masses repose confidence in a political party and the man who’s leading it when that man himself was responsible for the ruination of that very party he leads in the first place? In the natural world, it’s like asking a divided and a broken family to once more have confidence in its head for its rebuilding and of its unification, when that head himself was responsible for its ruination and of its destruction. That family can have confidence in their head to once more take over the leadership of the family and rebuild it only if he shows tangible signs of reform.
Likewise, for Wickremesinghe to be once more acceptable to the masses, he must, in the first instance, also show tangible signs of reform. There is no better way to do this other than by changing the Constitution of the UNP to be what it was before 1995, i.e. a return to democracy, where the UNP leader is elected by the UNP’s Working Committee and its Parliamentary Group by a simple majority in a ballot and not otherwise.
It’s only leaders who are unsure of themselves who become dictators, leading not only their parties, worst still their countries too to destruction.
Some examples are Benito Mussolini of Italy, Adolph Hitler of Germany, Idi Amin of Uganda, Emperor Bokassa of the Central African Republic, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Muammar Gaddafi of Libya and Zine El Abdine ben Ali of Tunisia.
The only life support available for the UNP is, if it not only teams up with the SJB, but also gives over its leadership, hook, line and sinker to the SJB. Otherwise, like the Old Left, there is no future for the UNP. At least the Old Left, post 1977 had the SLFP and later the SLPP to tag onto, whereas the UNP has none to tag onto, other than the SJB.