Navin to contest General Election only under ‘elephant’ symbol | Daily News


Navin to contest General Election only under ‘elephant’ symbol

UNP National Organizer and MP Navin Dissanayake yesterday insisted that he would not contest the next General Elections under any other symbol, other than the ‘elephant’.

Speaking at a press conference at the Sirikotha UNP office, MP Dissanayake said that the majority of the Working Committee was also of the same opinion, and that a vote on this matter could also be taken if necessary.

“The Estate Tamils in the Nuwara Eliya district, which I represent, are used to voting for the ‘elephant’ symbol. We have got barely a month for the elections, and that time is insufficient to make people aware of a new symbol. We will even lose the base voters. Both MP K.K. Piyadasa and I, who represent Parliament from the Nuwara Eliya district, are adamant that we want to contest from the ‘elephant’ symbol. If not I have a problem as to whether I would contest at all,” Dissanayake stressed.

He reminded that the UNP had contested from the ‘elephant’ symbol in all Parliamentary Elections since 1948. He said Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa together with MPs Kabir Hashim and Rajith Madduma Bandara met UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe on Wednesday night. “They have come up with various proposals. Those will be discussed at the committee meeting scheduled on Friday. Hopefully, we can come to an agreement by Monday,” he added.

MP Dissanayake also insisted that it was not the right time to go for a leadership change in the party.

“If Premadasa is suitable for the party leadership, he will get it at the opportune time. Let nature take its due course. It cannot be done in a hurry, and especially not when we are this close to an election. We cannot let the party divide by changing the leadership now. We, at the last UNP Convention in December, agreed to continue Wickremesinghe’s leadership. All including Premadasa and his followers raised their hands in agreement. The previous election defeat is no reason to change this stance now. Whether Wickremesinghe is popular or not and whether we like him or not, there is a formal procedure to get rid of the leader. It has to be done according to the Party Constitution,” he said.

“Wickremesinghe is now 72 years old and he himself knows that he must retire soon. Let him have a graceful exit. Give him time to write the last chapter of his political career. It is not the UNP tradition to force its leaders out,” he remarked.

Dissanayake also said that Premadasa could take an example from his late father Gamini Dissanayake to claim the party’s leadership. “In 1994, my father had the courage to challenge Ranil Wickremesinghe for the Leader of the Opposition. Then a secret vote was taken and late Dissanayake got two votes more than Wickremesinghe and thus he was given the position. In the case of Premadasa, the majority in the UNP Parliamentary Group wanted him as an Opposition Leader, so it was unanimously decided. All are in agreement to make him the Prime Ministerial Candidate and the leader of the alliance with MP Madduma Bandara as the General Secretary.

The Parliamentary Group may decide the Opposition Leader and the Prime Ministerial Candidate, but all other political and policy decisions are taken by the Working Committee, which is the apex decision making body of the party. All successive leaders of the UNP have complied with the Working Committee decisions,” he elaborated.

Responding to questions by journalists, MP Dissanayake said the ‘flower bud’ symbol of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) was first used at the Local Government Elections and it had about a year to be accepted. He went on to say that the proposed ‘heart’ symbol was ridiculous, and that Facebook memes had already sprung up linking it to the Valentine’s Day making fun of it.


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