Opinion

Puppeteer and Puppet or ‘The UNP’s Cousin Act’

Summary

A party that is facing extinction has allowed the person who is responsible for that predicament to handpick his successor!

Finally, the United National Party’s Working Committee has confirmed what most of us have known ever since Ruwan Wijewardena was deposited  as the country’s State Minister of Defense by his uncle Ranil Wickremesinghe; the younger cousin will take over the reins from ‘loku aiya’ cousin.

In the coming months, the aiya will mentor the malli to take over a party of one MP. A party that has been Ranil Wickremesinghe’s bankcard, reason for his relevance and his roll of toilet paper. Ranil Wickremesinghe has systematically destroyed the credibility of the UNP since he took over as the leader in 1994. Wickremesinghe’s and Wijewardena’s ascendency to leadership is somewhat similar but for different reasons.

When Wickremesinghe took over in late 1994, the party had lost three of its most experienced and popular leaders to assassinations. R.Premadasa and Lalith Athulathmudali were killed in 1993 and Gamini Dissanayake in October 1994. While Wickremesinghe served as the Prime Minister (PM) after Premadasa’s death, he was by no means the automatic choice to take over the UNP. The fact was borne out when Gamini Dissanayake defeated Wickremesinghe for the post of Leader of Opposition after Chandrika Kumaranatunga became the PM in 1994.

Wickremesinghe became the leader of UNP by default. Fast forward to 2020 and we have the party confronted by another calamity; electoral annihilation, a debacle that was the result of Wickremesinghe’s vast array of inadequacies. The UNP has been losing support among the population steadily since the signing of the ceasefire agreement (CFA) with the LTTE in 2002 which allowed the terrorist group to replenish its armories and regroup.

The final nail in the UNP’s political coffin was affixed when Islamic fundamentalists went on a murderous rampage during Easter Sunday, 2019 and killed over 300 people while Wickremesinghe as PM and Wijewardena as the State Minister of Defense feigned ignorance and refused to accept any responsibility for the national security disaster. 

The UNP had become the plaything of the leader. Over his tenure, Wickremesinghe essentially purged anyone who was likely to challenge his leadership. UNP has no second-tier leadership. The stage was tailormade for Wickremesinghe to install a stoolie to take over and the Working Committee has duly obliged.  

The appointment of Ruwan Wijewardena as the deputy leader proves this fact beyond any doubt. A party that is facing extinction has allowed the person who is responsible for that predicament to handpick his successor.

Let that sink in.

Under these circumstances, the extinction of the United National Party will be in the best interest of Sri Lanka.

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