With the ruling coalition seeking to repeat its
battlefield success in the North with efforts to win over more
UNP MPs, the main Opposition party is seeking to thwart further
desertions. The government’s decision to go ahead with local
government elections ahead of the full implementation of the
13th Amendment to the Constitution with the Indian backing,
political sources said, has placed the UNP in a politically
The UNP’s counter attack is believed to be
largely based on a ten-point plan to meet the government’s
The UNP has been reduced to 41 seats after 25
members including ten from the National List switched allegiance
to President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the vacancy caused by the
assassination of MP T. Maheswaran had been filled by Mohammed
Shafeek Rajabdeen (SLMC) who contested the Colombo District on
the UNP ticket at the last general elections.
A two-day workshop at the luxurious Heritance
Hotel, Ahungalle this week marked the launch of the ambitious
political programme to perk up the party. Well informed sources
said that the action plan had been discussed at the Colombo
residence of a UNP MP. The invitations for the programme had
been sent by a recently formed committee tasked with helping the
UNP, the sources said. A person who had been involved in
Chandrika Kumaratunga’s campaign in 1994,
Ranil Wickremesinghe’s last presidential
election campaign, a former Secretary to a Prime Minister, an
ex-Director of the Information Department who functioned as
one-time Competent Authority and a hotshot NGO activist had
initially joined the committee, the sources said.
Among the persons who made presentations were an
economist and a well known media personality.
The majority of UNP parliamentarians had turned
up on Wednesday and Thursday but a notable absentee was Tissa
Attanayake, Kandy District MP and General Secretary of the UNP.
Of the 41-member UNP parliamentary group 31 had attended
Wednesday’s programme. The sources placed the number of
yesterday’s participants at 20.
Interestingly, the two-day workshop has been
preceded by Tuesday’s meeting between President Rajapaksa and
UNP leader Wickremesinghe at Temple Trees where the UNP pledged
its backing for the 13th Amendment.