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Democracy, UNP and Markar

6 February 2020 02:05 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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  • Markar has often been heard stressing on the importance of the UNP promoting democracy

  • The UNP constitution doesn’t allow for a Leadership change at this hour

  • Markar was quoted in a leading Sinhala weekend newspaper saying that the UNP didn’t promote a ‘feudalistic mentality’

 

The crisis within the United National Party (UNP) and removing of seasoned politician Imithiaz Bakeer Markar along with four others from the Working Committee questions the democracy within the Green Party. 

Questions have been raised within the Green Party as to whether the party Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe values the UNP styled democracy which was once present within the party. The UNP has been a party which has survived with so many internal squabbles. We remember the differences J.R Jayewardene had with Dudley Senanayake and years later when Lalith Athulathmudali and Gamini Dissanayake combination took on Ranasinghe Premadasa. 


A similar situation has arisen when some working committee members like Mayoress Rosy Senanayake, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, Ajith Perera, Dinesh Gankanda along with Markar were shown the door by the party leader. The speculation doing the rounds states that these five UNPers were sacked for critisising UNP Leader Wickremesinghe and backing Sajith Premadasa, the Leader of the Opposition, who dreams of leading the Green Party.    

 

In a situation like this there is much concern about the Green Party taking a drastic decision to sack a senior like Markar mainly due to the experience the man carries in politics

In a situation like this there is much concern about the Green Party taking a drastic decision to sack a senior like Markar mainly due to the experience the man carries in politics. 
Markar joined the UNP as a student leader and worked his way up in a party, which has always allowed for criticism and change. 

 

Imithiaz Bakeer Markar


Markar has often been heard stressing on the importance of the UNP promoting democracy and encouraging the voice of dissent with the party. It is also a party which has never promoted highhandedness by the party leader. But now Wickremesinghe is seen as having a schoolmaster attitude and there have been occasions where he hasn’t allowed the voice promoting democracy to be heard. The UNP constitution doesn’t allow for a Leadership change at this hour, but the call is loud and clear that Wickremesinghe should step down and pave the way for Premadasa to lead the ‘Greens’. 


It is a well-known fact that Markar backed Premadasa at the last presidential elections. On the other hand Markar was also known to have thought on the lines that it was okay for the UNP to have as many as three members vying for the slot of being the presidential candidate for the UNP led alliance. The names of Wickremesinghe, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya and Premadasa were floated as the potential candidates to head the UNP led alliance at the presidential elections, which the alliance eventually lost. Markar was quoted in a leading Sinhala weekend newspaper saying that the UNP didn’t promote a ‘feudalistic mentality’ like the other main party in the fray and that there was always roon within the party for democracy and consensus. 


But his sacking along with four others poses the question whether the UNP is changing for the worst under the leadership of Wickremesinghe who is now standing firm as an ‘unchanging’ lawmaker.


Markar, despite his fluent oratory skills in Sinhala, clearly identifies himself with the the minority Muslims. Thinking so doesn’t leave any lawmaker at a disadvantage within the UNP because this party presents everyone with the opportunity to climb up the ranks regardless of religion or cast. Political analysts however point out how these two factors still have a subtle influence on who calls the shots in other major political parties. Markar has been shown the door from the Green Party at a time when a minority community like the Muslims are still with the UNP and a sizable section of the Sinhala Buddhists has crossed over to the Pohottuwa Party. 


Right now fingers are pointed at Wickremesinghe for running the UNP with his close associates. At one time this clique was formed by a different set of individuals and former President Sirisena was quick to mention this when he found the going tough due to a clash between the Premier and the President of the Yahapalana government.

 
Some of the present close associates of Wickremesinghe have blamed Premadasa for the recent elections defeat and question any move that could be taken to promote the NDF alliance presidential candidate being named to replace Wickremesinghe as the party leader. But Markar fully backed Premadasa at the last presidential elections and labeled him as a potential leader possessing a brain that had made him a calculative decision maker. 


But he also stated in newspaper interviews in the run-up to the presidential elections that he stood more for policy driven stances rather promoting individuals 
He has also stressed that during the rich family tradition of his dad and grandfather serving the UNP he has seen the Green Party emerge as an institute which sent into oblivion the feudalistic mentality in Sri Lankan politics. The grand old party also gave rise to the common man to receive a basic school education and make a career in politics. 


Markar is a man of substance and a battle-hardened lawmaker who has been with the UNP during both good and bad times. He has stood for party reforms and democracy and this talk about being a die-hard Premadasa loyalist doesn’t hold weight. Markar is someone who backs the popular opinion that no individual lawmaker can be bigger than the party. His thinking also suggests that he gives value to the saying ‘no one, however great, can hold an institute to ransom’. 

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