Sajith Premadasa Sabotaging Maithripala’s Campaign: Sign Of Crossover?

Serious questions are looming large over the role of UNP Deputy Leader Sajith Pemadas in the presidential election campaign o f the common opposition, as Premadasa is directly playing into the hands of the government while pretending to be a ‘staunch supporter’ of Maithripala Srisena’s campaign.

When attending election meetings of the common opposition, Premadasa takes his own announcer with him - who would take over duties from the official announcer of the meeting, minutes before Premadasa’s  speech. While introducing the UNP Deputy Leader, Premadasa’s announcer dubs his “boss” as the future leader of the country as well as the future leader of the party, without even mentioning the names of UNP National Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe or Common Candidate of the opposition Maithripala Sirisena.This has given rise to speculations that Premadasa has started his own presidential campaign while “faking” his support to Common Candidate of the opposition Maithripala Sirisena.

“What Premadasa is doing at the moment is promoting and positioning himself as the leader of the party using Maithriapala Sirisena’s platform. He actually wants Maithripala Sirisena to lose the election; so that he can make another step in the direction of the party leadership. To serve his own personal agenda, Premadasa is attempting to sabotage the presidential campaign of the party,” a several electorate organizers of the UNP told ‘Asian Mirror on Monday.

The UNP Deputy Leader’s “dubious” behavior was visible when he attended the “Satana” political programme on Sirasa on behalf of the United National Party. He deliberately placed the party in bad light when answering questions posed by the journalists who hosted the programme. Instead of defending the party’s decisions, he indicated that there was no internal democracy in the party.

For instance, when asked about Kabir Hashim’s appointment as the General Secretary of the party, Premadasa said it was done without consulting him. However, according to the UNP constitution, the Party Leader does not have to seek opinion of any other official when appointing the General Secretary. In other words, the Party Leader can appoint the General Secretary at his sole discretion. While answering this question, Premadasa acted as if he had no knowledge of the provisions of the UNP constitution.

At the same time, while speaking of the present state of affairs in the country, Premadasa strongly criticized the health sector, directly playing into the hands of the government. Common Candidate Maithripala Sirisena was the Minister of Health over the past five years and it is naïve to believe that Pemadasa was unaware of possible negative results of a statement of that nature.

This was exactly what Tissa Attanayake did when he addressed a press conference in Colombo, a few days before his defection. He said Ranil Wickremesinghe would be made the Executive Prime Minister within 24 hours after Maithripala Sirisena’s ascension to power. Attanayake’s statement was in stark contrast to the 100 day programme of the common opposition and it boomeranged on its propaganda campaign in many ways. It was later revealed that Attanayake’s made “Executive Prime Minister’” statement while holding discussions with the government over his crossover.

Interestingly, two days before Attanayake’s crossover, Premadasa, addressing the 55th UNP convention, spoke in praise of the UNP General Secretary, while appreciating his efforts to build up unity in the party. It was later revealed that by the time the UNP convention took place two days before the final day of nominations, many in the UNP top-rung leadership – including Premadasa – was aware of Attanayake’s move!  

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