After assuming the leadership in UNP first presidential election Ranil faced was the 1999 election. When President of the time Ms Chandrica announced the election Ranil soon convened a UNP conference. The party members and loyalist believed Ranil’s attempt is to democratically get the party to sanction him as the presidential candidate and to face the election. But by that time the former general secretary Mr Sirisena Corey had this to say this lovely piece of input to a UNP senior who visited him.
‘Did you see the proposals to present to the party conference? One is to appoint Ranil as the leader for one year. Do you know why amidst the election pressure this proposal was brought? Ranil is not sure of his victory’
Do you mean even if he loses to keep him in the leadership this party conference is arranged? The party senior snapped?
‘If not for what else?’
Corey said laughing.
What Corey said was perfectly right
Before 2000 general elections Ranil held a party conference in similar fashion and got his party leadership endorsed.
In 2001 general election Ranil held a party convention and got his leadership extended.
In 2004 before the general elections held a party convention and did the same thing.
Before 2005 presidential elections, 2010 general elections, 2015 presidential election, 2015 general elections did the same thing. During 2019 presidential elections he got extended the party leadership for more than one year because the candidate was Sajith and fearing if he wins Ranil would lose the leadership
Now after one year of becoming President he is feeling the fear of losing the party leadership after the 2024 presidential election. Ranil became the prime minister under Gotabaya’s presidency in May 2022. He did not call for a working committee and got it sanctioned before he accepted Premiership from Gotabaya. Even to face the presidential election in a parliament did not seek working committee sanction. Since assuming presidency in 2022 July up to July 2023 for one year did not call for a working committee meeting. But after two years he called an urgent working committee meeting in the month of July.
It is reported in the media including the party’s deputy leader position and all positions are to be abolished. The party leadership to be elected by an executive board. These days the executive committee is being filled with Ranil loyalist Sirikotha reports indicate.
‘Why did Ranil after 2 years convening an executive board meeting and take such a decision..’?
In 2022 when Ranil assume Premiership under the presidency of Gotabaya Navin Dissanayaka released a twitter message.
I am very much concerned about Ranil getting appointed to the Premiership. Before accepting I believed the party executive council sanction would be asked, but such a thing did not happen..’
Before Ranil became Prime Minister, he did not get the approval of the Party Working Committee because he made a secret deal with the Rajapaksas. After that, when he became acting President, the he must have thought that UNP is useless. That’s why a working committee meeting was not held for a year even after he became president. He thought that he would win the presidential candidacy in Pohottuwa. After knowing that he would not get the candidacy of Pohottuwa, he broke the bud and tried to form a new alliance. Knowing that it would be difficult to succeed, he suddenly joined the U.N.P. A working committee meeting was held not with the aim of the 2024 presidential election but with the aim of protecting the party leadership after 2024.
‘Why do you say so..?
Ranil abolished the party’s deputy leader and other posts for fear that either if he contest the presidential election and lost or if he decided not to contest the presidential election, the party would abandon him and join the Samagi Jana Balawegaya. The reason is that if he runs for the presidency and loses or does not run, the U.N.P. seniors are looking to infiltrate the parliament in the next general election. The only solution for that is Samagi Jana Balavegaya. All of them will either remove Ranil from the leadership of the party or take the party to Samagi Jana Balavegaya. Otherwise, they will leave Ranil and join the Samagi Jana Balawegaya. In such a situation, Ranil needs the party leadership to keep them in the party. When deputy leaders and other positions are abolished, he does not have a threat in the party.
It is easier when the party leader is selected by the working committee. If Ranil loses or decides not to contest, the other leaders of the party can convene the party working committee and appoint a new leader. But when the party leadership is entrusted to the executive council, the choice of the leader from the executive council is complicated. It has a large number of members, it should be collected separately. It takes time.
Now Ranil has lost an alternative leader to the U.N.P and has complicated the process of selecting the leader. That means that Ranil’s mind is not about the 2024 presidential election, but about protecting the party leadership after 2024.
He has not yet announced that he will contest the presidential election. Sajith got the party’s approval to contest the presidential election early. Recently, Anuradha said that the party approved his candidature. But still Ranil is silent. U.N.P leaders said that Ranil will call an emergency presidential election later this year. After that they said early next year. Now it is the middle of next year. This shows that Ranil has no preparation for a presidential election.
In order to protect the leadership of the party and become the leader of the opposition after 2024, Samagi Jana Balawegaya should be added to the U.N.P. Ranil is now biting his teeth for it.