Non-Cabinet Minister Ajith P. Perera said UNP’s Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa, whom he described as the party’s presidential candidate, would launch his election campaign at a massive rally at Wills Park Grounds in Badulla on Monday.
He said it would be attended by thousands of UNP supporters countrywide and addressed by party leaders and a would project a message to the country as to who would emerge victorious at the forthcoming presidential polls.
The Minister told reporters yesterday that Minister Harin Fernando who is organising the rally had written UNP General Secretary, Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam about the rally.
“Some 99% of the UNP’s parliamentary group and UNP supporters are demanding that Sajith be the party’s presidential candidate because he will clearly be the winner. I hope and wish he will be nominated as the proposed National Democratic Front (DNF) candidate because it is the only way to ensure victory for the UNP, the country and the people,” he said. “Sajith is the one and only politician in the country today who can beat any politician nominated by Mahinda Rajapaksa, the SLPP or the SLFP because he is the one favoured by the UNPers and the youth who would vote for the first time at the presidential election, professionals, public and private sector employees and the minorities in the North, South, East and the West."
The Minister warned that the country was facing a major threat of coming under a military-style rule and dictatorship if the people did not use their vote wisely at the presidential election.
Responding to a journalist who asked about the ‘Clean City’ programme of then defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa under the previous regime, the Minister said what Mr. Rajapaka did was to dump Colombo's solid waste in Kolonnawa creating a big mess in that area.
“Can’t you remember how those who protested against garbage dumping at Kolonnawa were attacked. Have you forgotten how people in Rathupaswala were shot and killed when they demanded clean water? Have you forgotten how many senior journalists were brutally attacked, tortured and killed and the TV stations, print media institutions being subjected to arson attacks and the number of media personnel who fled the country? All these happened under the Rajapaksa regime when Gota was the all-powerful defence secretary. What is the guarantee that these crimes would not happen again if Gota becomes president,” the Minister asked.
When asked about the fate of the minorities under Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the Minister said what I have to say is, may God save them all. (Sandun A Jayaseketa)