by Shamindra Ferdinando
A former TNL political affairs commentator and
producer Chandana Sooriyabandara has been appointed UNP
organiser for Senkadagala electorate. He has replaced Chanaka
Ilapperuma, a Kandy municipal councillor.
Sooriyabandara is from Watapuluwa, Senkadagala
electorate constituted in 1960. It had been represented by
Shelton Ranaraja (SLFP), Noel Wimalasena (UNP) and Harendra
Dunuwila (1989 parliament). But since 1994 no one had managed to
Sooriyabandara anchored the Janahanda political
affairs programme before joining the Swarnavahini. Subsequently
he joined Sirasa where he held an influential position.
He was introduced at a meeting at the Kandy YMBA
on Friday presided by Tissa Attanayake, MP, a member of the
party’s political affairs committee. Political sources described
the appointment as the first step in the former TV presenter
getting a chance to contest the next parliamentary elections.
Party sources claimed that these appointments
are being made as part of the process to strengthen the
grass-root level organisations ahead of the forthcoming
A committee headed by former party chairman
N.G.P. Panditharatne had investigated the party’s defeat at the
last parliamentary election and submitted its findings to the
party. The committee was commissioned by UNP leader Ranil
The report based on statements obtained from
partymen in many parts of the country had been sharply critical
of the top leadership. It had also pointed out serious lapses
that had contributed to their defeat. Panditharatne yesterday
declined to comment on his findings claiming that it was an
internal document. When pressed for details, he said that he
personally handed over the report to Mr. Wickremesinghe with a
copy to party Secretary N.V.K.Weragoda and comments, if any
should come from Weragoda.
Sooriyabandara is the second television anchor
to be made an electoral organiser with his colleague Buddhika
Pathirana being the first. Pathirana handled TNL’s Janahanda
before moving on to Sirasa where he played a pivotal role in
running political programmes.
Pathirana successfully contested the last
provincial council elections in the south and was subsequently
rewarded with the responsibility to organise the Akuressa
electorate. Pathirana polled the highest preference votes at the
last PC elections.
Manusha Nanayakkara, once with the Swarnavahini
(Live at eight) before joining the state-run Rupavahini during
the previous government is also being considered as an electoral
organiser. Nanayakkara had been with Minister Arumugam
Thondamana for a brief period during the previous government. He
is an opposition member of the Alliance-run Southern Provincial
A senior party official said that the young
councillor had indicated an interest in nursing an electorate in
the Galle district. Manusha had come third at the last PC
elections. "We haven’t taken a final decision on his
appointment," he said. A decision is likely this week.
The official acknowledged that Didula
Bogahakumbura behind two major Swarnavahini political programmes,
Deshapalana Sathiya and Kiniheera is also being mentioned as a
new electoral organiser. Bogahakumbura is widely believed to be
in the fray for the post of Hali-ela organiser.
The official dismissed speculation that Shan
Wijetunga (Swarnavahini) and Chatura Vidyaratne (ex-Divaina and
Lake House) were being considered for Biyagama and Kelaniya
electorates respectively. Although the electoral organisers’
posts were yet to be filled, Wijetunga and Vidyaratne were not
in the fray, he said.
He also emphasised that there was no truth in
speculation that former Government Information Director Ariya
Rubasinghe and Saman Atavudahetti of the UNP Media were being
considered as organisers for electorates in the Matara and
Gampaha districts respectively.
Phoenix chief Irvin Weerakkody was recently made
Maharagama organizer of the UNP He preferred Kotmale.
Sirikotha said that about a dozen electoral
organisers’ posts remained to be filled. Vacancies remain in
Colombo, Gampaha, Nuwara Eliya, Hambantota, Matara and Kalutara.
The Galle list is almost finalised.
Meanwhile Speaker W.J.M.Lokubandara had handed
over the leadership of the Badulla district to colleague
Lakshman Seneviratne while Rukman Senanayake had given up
leadership of Kegalle district. Senanayake had been replaced by
Mano Wijeratne. Political sources said that although some
speculated about the possibility of Kabir Hasim being given
Senanayake’s post it went to with Wijaratne.