While stating that they want a legitimate change of leadership in the UNP, the MPs who are currently lobbying for a change in the party yesterday said they were hopeful that party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe will take a positive step in this regard during the coming days.
Several UNP MPs Harsha De Silva, Harin Fernando, Nalin Bandara Jayamaha, Ajith P. Perera and J.C. Alawathuwala said they were hopeful that Mr. Wickremesinghe will resign from the leadership with dignity and allow Leader of Opposition Sajith Premadasa to take over.
Dr. De Silva who elaborated on Thursday’s parliamentary group meeting said Mr. Wickremesinghe had informed the MPs that he will not contest any national election after 2025 and a change will be made to the UNP leadership by 2023.
“ Mr. Wickremesinghe had informed the group that he had received many phone calls from party members and that 95 per cent of them want him to continue as the leader. He also said he would come back to the MPs after meeting Mr. Premadasa and Speaker Karu Jayasuriya during the weekend. When some MPs proposed a poll to determine the majority view, several MPs such as Vajira Abeywardene and others have insisted that Mr. Wickremesinghe should continue as the leader. Mr. Wickremesinghe and others then walked out of the meeting after arguments. MP Ranjith Maduma Bandara had then proposed that Mr. Premadasa should take the chair and continue the meeting. Thereafter a poll was conducted to determine the majority view and the majority had wanted a leadership change,” Dr. De Silva said.
“Yesterday’s Parliamentary group was a battle between two ideas where some MPs wanted a new face to the UNP while others wanted Party leader Wickremesinghe to stay on till 2024. An unofficial vote was conducted to seek the majority view,” he added.
MP Ajith P. Perera said they expect Mr. Wickremesinghe to resign from the leadership in a dignified manner. “We trust that this would happen so that the party could come out with new ideology and with a new face. Some have tried to convince Mr. Wickremesinghe that the party will die a natural death if he leaves,” he said. (Yohan Perera)