Make Grama Charika a journey of reconciliation
Let us heal our divisions and march forward to victory: Karu

The UNP’s Grama Charika program began at Horana yesterday under the leadership of Mr. Karu Jayasuriya with party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe due to be present today (Sunday).

Jayasuriya and fellow activists stayed on Saturday night at the homes of party supporters with the deputy leader saying that they must get over their present disunity and forge ahead to victory.

"We are proud to say that we are the single oldest and largest political party in Sri Lanka," Jayasuriya said. "We have to overcome the obstacles and clear our path to victory."

However, differences between the party leadership and Hambantota District MP, Sajith Premadasa were visible with Premadasa, who said yesterday that he was not well to join the Grama Charika despite Jayasuriya’s personal invitation.

Premadasa said that he was doing his own charika and had been in Horana on Friday although he denied that he was competing with the main event organized by the party.

Jayasuriya said in his statement issued on the occasion of the inauguration of the campaign that he UNP was founded on September 6, 1946 "in order to achieve fivefold freedoms for the motherland."

These freedoms were then identified as freedom from the foreign yoke, freedom from poverty, freedom from unemployment, freedom from ignorance and freedom from ill health.

Saying that all of them were responsible in some manner for the failure to achieve these freedoms, Jayasuriya asked "Why did we fail to achieve these freedoms and why were we unable to achieve them?"

"I believe that the division in our party is a fundamental cause for the failure," he said. "To achieve the fivefold freedoms envisaged by our founding fathers, as members we have not fulfilled our duty in accordance with common decisions of the party."

He said that the first step towards the goal of unity was to convert the Grama Charika "into a journey towards reconciliation,’’ which will take the UNP to victory.

He accused the present regime under the President of marching towards dictatorship and said that the jailing of former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka, the opposition candidate at the last Presidential Election, was an example of this.

The government has turned Fonseka’s candidature at the Presidential Election into a personal grudge. The 17th Amendment, unanimously passed by parliament to ensure good governance, had been replaced by the 18th Amendment giving enormous powers to the President.

"The UNP cannot deviate from the obligation of inalienable responsibility to win the fivefold freedoms for the motherland," Jayasuriya said.

Theirs was a party built at the grassroots and village level going up to the leadership and it was imperative that consensual agreements were implemented from the leadership down to ordinary members of the party.

"This party is not subjected to the authority of Ranil, Karu or any other individual. The United National Party is subjected to the goals and authority of its members and to win their aspirations. This is our noble tradition. This is our great force. This force should be formed as one party. It should not be a resting place or haunt for lonely individuals divided into different groups," he said.

"Grama Charika is a journey of reconciliation, which will bring us together to march hand in hand. It is not a journey of individuals, divided into groups, who march without aim or goal.’’

It was unavoidable that they have to make great sacrifices when decisions for the common good and for victory are implemented. Such sacrifices must be unconditionally borne for the greater good of the party. They must all work hard, ceaselessly and honourably to realize the common decisions of the party.

"We will conclude our journey as a real force, united. When we reach the last stages of Grama Charika there will be either a government of the United National Party or clear path which will make way for an administration of the United National Party," he said.

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