Ranil’s dictatorship falls at Siri Kotha
Posted on December 21st, 2010

H. L. D.Mahindapala

 The moment Sajith Premadasa stepped on the stage of the UNP convention at Siri Kotha last week Dayasiri Jayasekera, one of leading reformists, started timing. The cheering lasted fifteen minutes exactly. That was the sound of the new wave sweeping the UNP.

 Later when Ravi Karunanayake, one of Ranil Wickremesinghe’s leading sympathizers, began speaking there was hooting. That was the sound of the old guard, led by Wickremesinghe, fading away.

 The convention ratified that future leaders of the party should be elected. This is a deadly blow to Ranil Wickremesinghe’s ambition of remaining as leader as long as he wants. He was fighting tooth and nail to beat the challenge and retain his dictatorial powers. His last minute tactic was to mount a legal challenge to prevent the holding of the convention. But the judge dismissed it leaving him to face the inevitable at the convention.

 However, the passing of the resolution ratifying that future leaders should be elected (amidst resounding cheers) didn’t settle the issue of who would be the next leader of the party. The resolution merely laid down a principle of electing leaders in the future but did not name a leader.

 The real game of power to decide on the next leader began behind the scenes after the public drama at the convention at Siri Kotha. The passing of the resolution to elect candidates was a victory for the Premadasa camp. This was also a serious blow to Wickremesinghe’s claim to be the permanent holder of the seat of the leader of the party. It meant that he too had to contest an election if there was no consensus on who should occupy the leader’s seat.

 After the victory at Siri Kotha, Premadasa was unofficially accepted as the next leader by the overwhelming majority. But it has to go through a complicated process of wheeling and dealing, if there is going to be a quiet revolution at Siri Kotha. So the next stage of bargaining began with the two representatives of the two aspirants to leadership “”…” Bodhi Ranasinghe representing Premadasa and Malik Samarawickreme representing Wickremesinghe “”…” meeting privately. It began with Malik Samarawickreme offering the Deputy Leadership to Premadasa. He wanted Premadasa to work “under the boss” in the balance eight months and then decide on the next step. This was the old trick of Wickremesinghe of appointing leaders with titles and no powers. Bodhi Ranasinghe rejected it out of hand. Then Samarawickreme played his other hand. He asked for time. He wanted time for a peaceful exit. The time proposed was by 2011.””‚2012. Ranasinghe was insisting that either Wickremesinghe quits honourably now or face a contest.

 Later a more representative meeting of MPs, Working Committee members, Bhikkus etc., stood firm and demanded that the transfer of power should take place immediately, i.e, within 120 days. Malik Samarawickreme was told in no uncertain terms that Sajith Premadasa would not accept the deputy leadership and he would contest. When this was conveyed to Wickremesinghe, insiders say that he was stunned. He fell back on his chair and was speechless for nearly five minutes. He knew that the death knell had tolled at the convention. It was a matter for the undertakers to come and remove the body.

 He had played all his cards and there was none left up his sleeve to reverse the trend against him. As stated earlier, the last card was to take up a legal challenge against the holding of the convention. Political observers comment that the legal challenge mounted was a joint operation initiated with the blessing of President Mahinda Rajapakse who is keen on keeping as the most loyal opposition leader of the crown. Cynics also name Wickremesinghe as the adopted “Rajapakse brother” of the President. Some also say that Wickremesinghe is No:2 CEO of the “Sahodara Samagama”. (Brothers Inc.).

 However, at the meeting with Bodhi Ranasinghe, Samarawickreme claimed that he was confident of winning a secret ballot. Ranasinghe countered by saying that they already have 28 votes out of the 42 MPs and if he contests they would not hesitate to write to the Speaker that Wickremesinghe would no longer be their leader. Even if Wickremesinghe is prepared to lose the leadership of the party he would not like to lose the coveted position of being the Leader of the Opposition.

 After the decisive resolution demanding Premadasa to take over, the Reformist group advised him to do a Gamini Dissanayake “”…” i.e, confront Wickremesinghe and tell him to hand over the leadership as he has the numbers. With the numbers behind him Wickremesinghe has no future. If Wickremesinghe refuses to hand over, the next move would be to remove him from his position as Leader of the Opposition “”…” the last political refuge of Wickremesinghe. But Premadasa was conscience-stricken and was reluctant to confront Wickremesinghe saying that he stood by his father at the time of impeachment launched by Lalith Athulathmudali- Gamini Dissanayake duo. His supporters believe that he was taking the gentlemanly position also because Wickremesinghe was a senior member of the Party.

 The compromise was to send a resolution signed by Lakshman Kirielle and Ranjan Madduma Bandara to Wickremesinghe requesting him to resign in the interests of the unity and future of the party. Ranasinghe also told Samarawickreme that they would consider keeping him as a Senior Mentor, like Lee Kwan Yew in Singapore and even allow him to preside over the Working Committee. They would also consider keeping him as the Leader of the Opposition, given his experience in Parliamentary affairs.

 Negotiations so far have stopped at that. Both are due to meet again on Wednesday (Today).

 But the writing is on the wall for Wickremesinghe. Any resistance from him would be detrimental to him and the party. He has no alternative now but to negotiate an honourable way out. The way the convention  ended was a clear signal to Wickremesinghe, Premadasa was mobbed by the UNPers. Ravi Karunayake quickly retreated to a room upstairs after the hooting. Ranil followed him after the national anthem was sung to end the convention. He was joined only by Karu Jayasuriya, Mangala Samaraweera, Sagala Ratnayake, Anuradhannayake, Ravi Karunanayake. They waited holed up in the room until he crowd dispersed.  

 The ending was inevitable given Wickremesinghe’s failed political ideology that allied him to Prabhakaran and Erik Solheim. Jointly they dug his grave. Now Wickremesinghe has to lie in it.

 The Working Committee has to approve the next moves and be ratified by another convention on April 12.

4 Responses to “Ranil’s dictatorship falls at Siri Kotha”

  1. ranjit Says:

    God save this poor creature. This traitor should be buried along with Erik Solheim in the same muddy grave where Prabakaran was buried. Nobody should pity this man because he was the man who brought us all this tension and pressure after our freedom from the ruthless terrorism. High time he retire and take care of his wife and dog because he will never have a chance to sit on the throne in his life. Atleast do something useful to the country after you leave politics to get a respectable funeral. Dont sell our country to the white dogs and friends of yours Mr.Ranil Be true to your Motherland and serve thy land with dignity and respect.

  2. AsokaK Says:

    Traitor Ranil who used to go often to the White Western Mafia & India to pay pooja and criticize the heroic war should now retreat to Pamankada through Alimankada.

  3. Andare Says:

    After Ranil is removed from the UNP leadership the Government and the new UNP leadership should set up a commission to inquire into the activities against Sri Lanka by Ranil for the last so many years. It is the same as the Tamil issue. Too many people have got away doing wrong things against the motherland.

  4. Sri Rohana Says:

    Ranil was out since 1994 and he should thank to UNP members to keep him as their (unpopular) leader till 2010. Good that at least UNP dump this Yankee puppet in 2010.
    If Sajith.P becomes the U.N.P leader he will contest the Presidential elections as a UNP candidate (hope he will not face similar to his dad R.P and Gamini Athukora type suspicious sudden death)
    Then what will happen to General Sarath Fonseka and JVP. No one will accept Fonseka as a common candidate. U.N.P, TULF and Muslim congress will not support him. He has to contest with J.V.P. If he contests only with J.V.P it is another political suicidal act.
    If Fonseka left J.V.P what will be J.V.P’s future. They will loose present 5 seats also and go out of political scene in Sri Lanka.
    If Ranil looses his leadership it will affect not only to him it affect to Sarath.F and J.V.P’s fate also.

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