Sajith loyalists see sabotage-attempt in fuss over party symbol

United National Party (UNP) MPs loyal to Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa called into question today the controversy surrounding the symbol of the party’s proposed electoral alliance.

MP Ajith P Perera told reporters this morning that the controversy had been manufactured in an attempt to disrupt the common ground reached with the faction loyal to party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe on January 30.

Following the Working Committee meeting held that day, recalled Perera, UNP General Secretary Akila Viraj Kariyawasam had issued a statement announcing Premadasa’s appointment as leader and prime ministerial candidate of the new alliance.

“Premadasa was also appointed head of the nominations board and was given the power to appoint a general secretary to the alliance as well,” said Perera.

However, he said, even as the Working Committee approved MP Ranjith Madduma Bandara as general secretary of the alliance yesterday, there were fresh attempts to dispute the accord reached at the previous meeting.

“We believe this is deliberate. It is wrong and cannot be condoned. We should try and solve any problems through consensus,” said the MP.

Perera further said that the pro-Premadasa MPs have no objection to the alliance adopting the UNP’s traditional elephant symbol at the upcoming general elections.

“In order to do that, however, the new alliance of which Madduma Bandara is general secretary must be legally granted the elephant symbol,” Perera stressed.

The alliance was registered at the National Election Commission yesterday under the name Jathika Samagi Balavegaya, which translates to National Unity Force, with a yellow heart as its symbol.

“We would all like to contest under the elephant. But in order to do that, they must inform the Elections Commissioner that the symbol has been legally granted to the alliance. The UNP has to then abandon the symbol,” said Perera.

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“It has to be done in a way that allows nominations to be made under Madduma Bandara’s signature. When we suggested this, there was no response,” he added.

Other parties that will join the alliance, the MP went on to say, would also like to contest under a new symbol.

“The other parties looking to join our alliance have already informed us that they, too, would like to contest under a new symbol. [While we would like to contest under the symbol as UNPers], there is a problem in that the constituent parties of the alliance prefer a new symbol,” he said.

Repoted by Nisali De Silva. Edited by Himal Kotelawala.

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