Former Sri Lankan cricketer Arjuna Ranatunga enters UNP management fray

Colombo, August 30

Arjuna Ranatunga, the captain of Sri Lanka’s 1996 Cricket World Cup successful group, on Sunday joined the race to guide the Opposition United National Party (UNP) after former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe determined to resign from the occasion management after 26 years on the helm following its crushing defeat within the parliamentary elections.

UNP normal secretary and Wickremesinghe’s cousin Ruwan Wijewardena and former Speaker Karu Jayasuriya have additionally provided to guide and revive the occasion after its humiliating defeat within the parliamentary elections.

The UNP, the oldest occasion within the nation, suffered its worst electoral defeat because it was fashioned in 1946 by failing to win a single seat from any of the 22 electoral districts within the August 5 election received by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa-led Sri Lanka People’s Party (SLPP).

The occasion polled solely 2 per cent of the entire votes and did not win a seat within the 225-member Parliament from any of the 22 electoral districts.

UNP chief and former Prime Minister Wickremesinghe additionally did not develop into a member of parliament for the primary time since 1977.

Earlier this month, Wickremesinghe introduced his determination to resign from the UNP management following his occasion’s defeat.

Wickremesinghe since 2001 resisted calls to resign because the occasion chief even within the face of repeated electoral defeats.

On Sunday, former Sri Lankan cricket group captain Ranatunga advised reporters, “At the party working committee meeting held recently there were four names which came up as possible leaders. My name was also proposed. Given the opportunity, I would be happy to take over the party and revive it.”

Ranatunga, 57, was among the many high UNP members who misplaced their seats of their bid to enter parliament on the August 5 parliamentary elections.

“I am not a rich man or I am not the one to go after the rich businessmen to do politics, but I know I have the capability to go to people and do justice to the UNP members who are dejected right now,” Ranatunga stated.

Ranatunga’s household has been historically supporting the UNP’s rival Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). His father Reggie was a minister in SLFP governments since 1994 and his brother Prasanna is the present Tourism Minister within the SLPP authorities led by the Rajapaksa brothers.

Ranatunga is a relative newcomer to the UNP having entered politics in 2001 from the SLFP.

In the 2015 reformist motion which toppled Mahinda Rajapaksa from the presidency after a decade, the previous cricketer was a frontline campaigner.

On Saturday, Wickremesinghe’s 45-year-old cousin Wijewardena stated, “Following demands from many, I have decided to step in to lead UNP with the blessings of the party leader Wickremesinghe.”     

Wickremesinghe, 71, has been main UNP since December 1994. During his 26-year tenure, Wickremesinghe was blamed for repeated election losses. He was accused of being aloof with the widespread man and being too West oriented in his insurance policies.

UNP’s political fortunes additional nosedived after its deputy chief Sajith Premadasa fashioned his personal occasion to contest the August parliamentary polls. His Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) occasion received 54 seats within the election and emerged as the most important Opposition occasion, relegating the UNP to fifth place.

Wijewardena stated although a number of occasion members have already staked a declare for UNP management, he is able to take over the occasion management.

“I am confident that we can lead the UNP to victory by restructuring and strengthening the party,” he stated, including that UNP’s election defeat is a chance to determine the loopholes within the occasion and to revive confidence in occasion supporters.

Wijewardena is the son of Lankan media mogul Ranjith Wijewardena who owned the English dailies—Sunday Times, Daily Mirror and Financial Times—in addition to the most important Sinhala language each day ‘Lankadeepa’. PTI


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