New Democratic Front (NDF) candidate Sajith Premadasa’s loyalists are contemplating forming a new political party under his leadership if effective revamp of the UNP does not take place, former Minister Harin Fernando said today.
Former Minister Fernando told a press conference today that those who backed Mr. Premadasa and others who lobbied for his candidacy and at the presidential elections are compelling to form another party if a proper revamp does not take place within the UNP.
“Mr. Premadasa had already expressed his desire to retire from politics if certain positions in the party do not change. But we advised him that he has to respond to the people’s demands and stay on. “The number of votes Mr. Premadasa had received at the presidential elections makes it clear that party supporters want him to lead them. Therefore he is the most suited to lead the party and to be appointed as the Leader of Opposition,” Mr. Fernando said. He noted that Mr. Premadasa received 5.5 million votes at the presidential elections which are the highest number of votes received by a UNP-backed candidate at a presidential poll. The former minister said it was the floating votes that went against Mr. Premadasa.
At the same time, Mr. Fernando said he too would contemplate giving up politics if the circumstances do not permit him to carry on to continue his career as a politician.
Mr. Fernando said one cannot blame Mr. Premadasa for the electoral defeat. He said Mr. Premadasa did not have sufficient time to plan his campaign because of the delay in naming him as the party’s candidate. SLPP named its candidate on August 12, 2019, whereas Mr. Premadasa was named officially on October 7, 2019. Therefore he had only one month to conduct the campaign. Citing another reason, he said the SLPPs campaign on the ethnic aspect also contributed to Mr. Premadasa’s defeat. “Statements made by certain religious leaders also contributed to the result at the presidential poll,” he said. (Yohan Perera)