UNP asserts itself in full measure against SJB

4 June 2020 01:25 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The Supreme Court's dismissed the petitions challenging the move to take polling on June 20 and the dissolution of Parliament 
(Pic by Kushan Pathiraja)

All the petitioners have two -fold objective- to get the elections deferred to a date as late as possible and to re-summon the dissolved Parliament

With this tough action, the party expressed its desire to dispense even with SJB Leader Sajith Premadasa

The SJB has decided to legally challenge the decisions of the UNP Working Committee

 

Following the Supreme Court’s dismissal of the petitions challenging the move to take polling on June 20 and the dissolution of Parliament, the country is gearing up into election mode. It will be facilitated by the improved signs of recovery from the COVID- 19 pandemic. 


The Election Commission was to meet with the medical experts yesterday to work out health guidelines to conduct elections. Also, it will be meeting today to decide on the new date of polling since the conclusion of the elections on June 20 as initially proposed is not feasible now. The Commission informed the Supreme Court about its inability to conduct polling on June 20 when the petitions were heard.


Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) was a petitioner in this case. Its General Secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara said it sought a postponement of the elections since the conduct of it on June 20 was not possible due to the pandemic. 


 “We have achieved our objective since the elections are now put off for a further date. The Election Commission has accepted it,” he said.


 All the petitioners have two -fold objective- to get the elections deferred to a date as late as possible and to re-summon the dissolved Parliament. 


 Though polling is not to be taken on June 20, it will not be delayed for an indefinite period . It is all probable that polling would be conducted on a date at the end of July or early August. The petitioners’ purpose is not served in that sense. Now, all the parties, be it the government or the opposition, have to brace for the elections no matter what.


The fact that the elections will be conducted on a new date as early as possible had begun to dawn on them even before the Supreme Court dismissed the petitions. That is the very reason for them to start work at district, electoral and village levels in terms of the elections.


Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) proceeded with workshops for its local authorities’ members about electioneering amidst health precautions to be taken in view of the pandemic. 


SJB also carried out the establishment of committees at village level for electioneering . It is nothing but a breakaway group of the United National Party( UNP). Its leaders are strategising to make significant inroads into the traditional UNP vote base, a move clearly seen as emulation of the political steps taken by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa in forming SLPP after his defeat at the 2015 presidential election. The SLFP vote bass eroded to the lowest ebb . It finally had to tie up with the SLPP as a minor ally. 

The SLPP suffered a blow as far as the estate sector is concerned following the untimely death of Ceylon Workers’ Congress (CWC) Leader Arumugam Thondaman


SJB believes it can do the same for the UNP on the basis that most members of the party’s Working Committee and the parliamentary group, and a vast majority of local government members have thrown their weight behind it. Afterward, it believes it could prevail upon the UNP to fall in line or suffer the predicament of the SLFP.


 Nevertheless, the UNP is not ready at all to give into SJB . It has now become apparent. In fact, the UNP is hell- bent on dispensing with the SJB leadership and others who joined him. Last week, the UNP Working Committee endorsed the suspension of 99 UNP members including SJB Leader Sajith Premadasa from the party. 


 It is an action that carries its own political meaning. By doing so, the UNP has signalled to the SJB that it will not succumb to pressure by it at this hour. With this tough action, the party expressed its desire to dispense even with SJB Leader Sajith Premadasa. Along with this decision, any room for unification of the two sides has now shrunk, much to consternation of some members who seek it. Also, the suspension of these members sent a warning to the UNP’s Local Government members who are about to support the SJB at the upcoming parliamentary elections. The party will not hesitate to institute disciplinary action against them if they opt to do so. 


 The SJB has decided to legally challenge the decisions of the UNP Working Committee. Its stalwarts argue that most Working Committee members are with them, and the formation of the SJB was a party decision a validated by a majority . The UNP says there is no Working Committee approval for it. But, the SJB leaders say the majorly of the Working Committee members supported it and therefore it was a valid decision. 


The UNP has strong defences in this instance. When the case is challenged, the minutes of the Working Committee will matter in proving whether approval was granted formally or not. The minutes are with UNP General Secretary Akila Viraj Kariyawasam.


 The SJB is in a stronger position than the UNP today , politically speaking. All the traditional allies of the UNP are with the SJB today. However, the future of the two parties would depend on how they perform at the general elections. 

 


Thondaman’s death a blow to the SLPP
The SLPP suffered a blow as far as the estate sector is concerned following the untimely death of Ceylon Workers’ Congress (CWC) Leader Arumugam Thondaman. The late Thondaman had a charismatic leadership in the estate sector, particularly in the Nuwara-Eliya district. With him gone, the CWC remains rudderless at least in the short run. The party has decided not to appoint anyone as a leader for some time as a mark of respect for their late leader. 


Thondaman was seen as a politician who never did communal politics in the estate areas. His son Jeewan Thondaman is to contest the elections in Nuwara-Eliya district in place of his father. The SLPP has already decided on it. It has to be communicated to the Election Commission. It is widely believed that junior Thondaman will be considered for CWC leadership since the party is always indentured with the Thondman lineage. It is not certain yet whether junior Thondaman will get it or not.

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