Colombo: Sri Lankan prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the United National Party (UNP) would form its own government in 2020. “We will form a UNP government in 2020. This is the objective behind the party’s recent reorganization. I am not looking at a government which will last only for five years but one that will last for 20 to 25 years. However, I will not be able to do it alone. Others in the party should come forward to fulfil this task,” he said at the UNP’s May Day rally held at the Sugathadasa Stadium. “Former president J.R. Jayawardene created a second level leadership in the 1970s and in the 80s. I have also done the same. Therefore, new leaders will emerge from the UNP in the years to come and the party will be able to name successors.”
The Prime Minister asked the members to set up mini Sirikotha offices in the constituencies and pledged to expand Samurdhi. He said UNPers who had been subjected to political victimization will be taken care of as well employment would be provided to the youth in the government and the private sector.
The premier apologised to the party supporters who were unable to enter the indoor stadium because of the lack of space. Deputy leader Sajith Premadasa stressed the need for an urgent welfare package and suggested providing fertilizer free of charge, free school uniforms and shoes to school children and absorbing UNPers to the public service.
“It is a do or die situation which the party is facing now,” he said and added that the party’s next presidential candidate should be named at Galle Face Green. “My father, the former president Ranasinghe Premadasa was named as the presidential candidate at the Sugathadasa Stadium in 1988 where we are holding our May Day rally today. However, I suggest that we should name our next presidential candidate at the Galle Face Green."
Premadasa said the UNP’s next presidential candidate would campaign with the report on the progress of the 2,500 village reawakening programme in his hands. “I am willing to accept any unanimous decision taken by the party and go along with my late father’s policies," he said.
UNP assistant leader Ravi Karunanayake, MPs Hirunika Premachandra, Ranjan Ramanayake and Ranjith Aluvihare were conspicuous absentees at the rally while a notable feature was the presence of Minister Wijedasa Rajapakshe and Joseph Michael Perera who protested against Karunanayake's appointment at the recent working committee meeting.