- PM says Party must look towards 2030
- Says Government was able to face all challenges successfully
- General Secretary Akila says UNP must win 2020 Presidential Election
- National Organiser Navin Dissanayake says no Pohottuwa without Basil, Namal fails to deliver at rally
By Skandha Gunasekara
The United National Party has begun grooming the next generation of leaders to head the Party and meet the challenges ahead, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday. Addressing the UNP 72nd anniversary convention held in Sirikotha yesterday, the Premier said the Party was ready to face the 2020 election and was now grooming the next generation of leaders to take over thereafter.
“We need to build up the UNP in order to build up the nation, all the while safeguarding the Government. We have started to groom the next generation of leaders who will take over the leadership in the future. We have to start thinking about 2030 now,” the Prime Minister said. He went on to say that when the Yahapalanaya Government took over, the country was akin to a dried up paddy field and that the incumbent Government was able to face the challenges.
“No one thought we could bring up the country when we took over the Government. The country was like a dried up paddy field with the debt crisis draining. However, we were able to face the banks that the country had borrowed from. We were able to face a severe drought and even disastrous floods.
Pix by Sameera Wijesinghe
We regained the GSP + concessions and were able to have the fisheries export ban by the European Union lifted. We have cultivated very well, now it’s time for harvesting,” the Premier said.
He further noted that Tuesday’s ‘JanabalayaColombata’ rally, organised by the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna and the Joint Opposition, had been a failure and that the SLPP did not have the power of the people.
“The Pohottuwa (SLPP) has no ‘janabalaya’ (power of the people) nor does the media have ‘pachabalaya’ (power of lies). Only the UNP remains standing after all,” he said.
UNP General Secretary and Minister of Education Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, who also took part in the event,said that it was time the UNP looked towards the Presidency.
“It is high time that we look to winning the Presidency. It has been 24 years since we last won that post.”
He then said that the Government had successfully faced the Joint Opposition rally, which had been a flop.
“They said that the Government was afraid of their protest rally but we were not afraid. We did not panic. We let them come to Colombo to hold their protest but it was an absolute flop. A majority of their supporters left prematurely. They were supposed to camp out for several days but by midnight, they had all begun leaving,” he said.
Meanwhile, UNP National Organiser Navin Dissanayake, who also spoke at the UNP convention, said that the SLPP was a failure without former Minister of Economic Affairs Basil Rajapaksa.
“They could not even muster half the number of supporters they had pledged to ‘surround’ Colombo with. They claimed they would bring in 200,000 supporters, but there weren’t even 30,000 present yesterday. Pohottuwa is a failure without Basil Rajapaksa. Namal ‘baby’ failed terribly.”