UNP elephant symbol dispute: Sajith faction cries foul

A faction of the main opposition United National Party (UNP) is attempting to use Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa’s popularity for the upcoming parliamentary elections with no intention of sharing real power with him, MP Ranjith Madduma Bandara said.

Bandara, who was recently named general secretary of the UNP-led Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) alliance, accused a group of MPs representing the UNP of attempting to deceive the public.

“These MPs are trying to use Premadasa’s popularity and the people’s demand [for change], to take power away from the new alliance and move it elsewhere,” he told reporters today.

Bandara stressed that MPs loyal to Premadasa will not stand for such a blatantly cynical attempt to “market” the alliance’s prime ministerial candidate.

“We have always stood for party unity. All we ask is to let us use the elephant as the new alliance’s symbol,” he said.

The MP alluded to an unnamed ‘force’ attempting to sabotage the UNP and its allies’ fight against the government.

“We don’t know whose agenda they’re pushing. The people will not appreciate the nominal formation of an alliance when real power is vested elsewhere,” he said.

The SJB General Secretary said he is sorry that the opposing faction of the UNP has created a controversy surrounding the party symbol at the eleventh hour.

“They have propagated this opinion that we object to using the elephant as the alliance’s symbol. At the Working Committee meeting held on February 10, I suggested that we resolve this amicably. I requested the party to let the alliance use the elephant,” he said.

“We have no problem with the symbol. We can make a decision after further discussion with our allies,” he added.

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Reported by Nisali De Silva. Edited by Himal Kotelawala.

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