UNP must analyse defeat and change accordingly – Ranil

Insisting that his party machinery did not undermine presidential hopeful Sajith Premadasa’s election campaign, United National Party (UNP) leader Ranil Wickremesinghe today called for sombre reflection on why the party lost its Sinhala Buddhist base.

Going forward, the UNP needs to analyse the result of the recently concluded presidential election and correct any mistakes made, Wickremesinghe told a gathering of staff and officials at the Sirkotha UNP headquarters this morning.

“I proposed Sajith Premadasa as the UNP’s presidential candidate and his name was unanimously endorsed by the party, after which we faced the election together with the other parties [of the UNF alliance]. Our party machinery and Sirikotha worked for this election; I can vouch for that. I reject allegations that we tried to undermine the campaign. Duties were assigned to all members of the party including Ministers and MPs. I personally took charge of campaigning in the North and East and I was able to increase the votes polled in those areas,” he said.

Unfortunately, however, the UNP’s votes dropped in the other seven provinces, which led to the party’s defeat, he added.

“The way we see it, the work we carried out in establishing democracy and law & order and our development initiatives and improvements in social services didn’t result in the kind of response we had expected. More than that, we should focus on how and why our party lost its Sinhala Buddhist base. It had not happened before and we must investigate the reasons for it,” said Wickremesinghe.

“We need to analyse this result before as we decide our future course of action. Only then can we hope to move forward. Pointing fingers at this juncture is futile,” he added.

Wickremesinghe also refuted allegations that certain party officials had sabotaged campaign financing efforts for candidate Premadasa.

“None of the party officials were tasked with finance matters. I reject those allegations, too. However, such allegations should be investigated, and if they’re found to be true, then we must act accordingly,” he said.

The UNP leader also proposed a “winning leadership” to spearhead the party.

“We now have to think about the future of the party, and we have to present new leaders. Following this analysis, we have to assign them the task of presenting new policies. A winning leadership has to be established. Then the transformation will be complete, and we will have the opportunity to move forward with that leadership without fear,” he said.

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“As Buddhists, we mustn’t point fingers when something goes wrong. As Buddhists, we must realise our mistakes and take steps to correct those mistakes. It is with such Buddhist thinking in mind that we can move forward. We will obtain the blessings of the Sangha for this and move forward as a new UNP,” he added.

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