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Sacking pro-SJB members from the UNP “was long overdue” – Asst. Leader RaviK

ECONOMYNEXT – With a week to go for the elections, the United National Party (UNP) and the breakaway Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) fired barbs at each other after the UNP Working Committee sacked 115 party-men for supporting the SJB at the elections, yesterday.

A statement from the UNP said that it had expelled “54 members who obtained nomination under the SJB for the 2020 General Election. A further 61 Local Government members from the UNP were also expelled for not supporting the party during the ongoing election campaign.”

The UNP’s Assistant Leader and leader of the party’s Colombo District group Ravi Karunanayake told EconomyNext that the sacking was “long overdue.”

He pointed out that the SJB had gone to court to retain their membership in the UNP.

“They got a knock on the head in District Court and when they went to the Appeal Court they were fined Rs 25, 000,” he told EconomyNext in an interview.

“We were waiting to do the right thing, once they lost the cases, it was timely and to make sure everything was done legally before we expelled them,” he said.

“It is a fait accompli, they cant be members of two parties, they were trying to run with the hares and hunt with the hounds,” Karunanayake said. “This will now put a stop to that.”

Asked whether there was confusion among the long-time UNP supporters, as the SJB members also claim to be from the Grand Old Party, Karunanayake said “that is the irony. They are scolding the Elephant and hugging its tail.”
A senior member of the SJB said that they went to court against the efforts to expel their supporters from the UNP “to protect Local Government representatives who are working for us.”

The SJB shot back accusing the UNP Leader, former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe of “directly supporting the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna” by his actions.

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In a statement, the party said Wickremesinghe has either expelled or caused hundreds of supporters and political leaders to leave the UNP so that he and a “group of friends” could hang on to the party leadership.

The SJB charged Wickremesinghe of killing off internal party democracy in the UNP and that the expulsions were a clear indication that the former PM “has a deal with the government to bring them to power.” (Colombo, July 29, 2020)

Reported by Arjuna Ranawana