By Yohan Perera
UNP MP Vajira Abeywardene said yesterday the party’s parliamentary group meeting to be held today will not result in any significant changes with Ranil Wickremesinghe continuing to remain as party leader.
He told a news conference that according to the UNP constitution, the parliamentary group had no power to change the party leadership.
“It could only be done at a party convention,” Mr. Abeywardene said adding that it was important to maintain discipline.
“Former president Ranasinghe Premadasa expelled some one million members from the UNP in 1991 but the party fell short by one parliamentary seat needed to form a government in 1994,” he said.
Mr. Abeywardene said anyone could form a new party but they would forego UNP membership under the constitution if they did so.
“Those who left the UNP and formed a new party in the past had to pay with their lives. They destroyed not only the UNP but destroyed themselves by forming a new party,” he said.
Mr. Abeywardene said anyone could become the President or the Prime Minister without holding a party leader’s post as seen in the case of former president Chandrika Kumaratunga while Sirimavo Bandaranaike was SLFP leader for almost six decades.
“Gotabaya Rajapkasa was elected President though he was not the leader of the SLPP,” he said and added that those responsible for the political victimisation of UNPers were some party members.
“Mr. Wickremesinghe resigned from the premier’s post after the presidential election on a request made by some UNP members. There would have been no political victimisation if Mr. Wickremesinghe remained as the premier after the presidential election and formed a caretaker government until the general elections were held,” Mr. Abeywardene said.
He said there should not be a leadership change in the UNP at this juncture despite Mr. Wickremesinghe holding this post of party leader for 25 years.
According to the UNP constitution, the parliamentary group has no power to change the party leadership other than at a party convention