UNP confident in spite of Ganesan going it alone

Ravi K to the fore


MP Ravi Karunanayake addressing UNP candidates for the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) polls, at Sirikotha. UNP Mayoral candidate Rosy Senanayake and UNP MP Mujibur Rahaman look on.

By Shamindra Ferdinando

UNP Deputy Leader Ravi Karunanayake, MP, yesterday said that the ruling party would certainly secure the majority of local government bodies including the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC), at the local government polls to be held on Feb. 10

MP Karunanayake said so when The Island asked him whether the UNP had suffered a setback due to yahapalana partner, National Co-existence Dialogue and Official Languages Minister Mano Ganesan going it alone in Colombo.

Colombo electoral district consists of 17 LG bodies.

The UNPer said that the party would have certainly liked if Ganesan stayed with the UNP though his decision to go it alone wasn’t an issue. "We are a national party acceptable to all communities," MP Karunanayake, who leads the party campaign in Colombo said.

Ganesan has fielded candidates on the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) ticket under the ladder symbol. Ganesan has the support of State Education Minister V.S. Radhakrishnan and Minister of Hill Country New Villages, Infrastructure and Community Development Palani Digambaram.

All of them contested the last parliamentary poll in August 2015 on the UNP ticket. Ganesan contested Colombo whereas the others were elected from Nuwara Eliya district.

Minister Ganesan wasn’t available for comment. However, a spokesperson for the minister told The Island that those elected under the ladder symbol would throw their weight behind the UNP. The official pointed out that at the last CMC poll, too, the UPA had fielded a team that secured six seats in 53-member CMC. The UPA’s six members threw their weight behind the UNP’s 24 elected members to enable A.J.M. Muzammil to become the Mayor. With the change of the government in January 2015, Muzammil received appointment as Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner in Malaysia.

However, under the new electoral system, CMC will comprise 110 members.

Karunanayake said the UNP would surely win the majority of over 300 councils countrywide regardless of the challenges.

Asked whether an influential section of SLFP fielding candidates on Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) would make things easy for the UNP, MP Karunanayake said that his party wouldn’t depend on the crisis in the SLFP to win LG polls. "We are not concerned about their battles or want to exploit the simmering crisis," he said, adding that the UNP was confident the majority of people would endorse those who had been fielded by the UNP.

The UNPer said the party named mayoral candidate for only one LG body CMC. Rosy Senanayake, former State Minister for Child Development and Deputy Chief Staff of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe leads the UNP campaign in the Colombo Municipality.

Senanayake failed to retain her seat at the last parliamentary polls in August 2015 in spite of a high profile campaign.

Karunanayake emphasized that he was keen to ensure UNP candidates present their plans for development at LG level. There was absolutely no point in condemning rival political parties, the MP said, adding that he recently addressed 113 candidates fielded by the UNP for the CMC, along with Rosy Senanayake and MP Mujibur Rahman at Sirikotha.

MP Karunanayake urged them to take the UNP’s future plans to the people without being distracted by accusations and counter accusations as well as lies propagated by interested parties.

Responding to another query, Karunanayake pointed out that the UNP was determined to win as many LG bodies as possible to further strengthen the party ahead of national elections in 2020. The UNPer said that since 2004, the majority of LG bodies had been outside their control. "Now, we have an opportunity to secure the majority in over 300 LG bodies," the UNP heavyweight said.

Rosy Senanayake told The Island that she wanted people to exercise their franchise in favour of whatever political party of their choice. The former State Minister said the most important thing would be to vote because many tend to skip local level elections. Senanayake said the UNP could transform Colombo to a better place with adequate facilities for the needy. Responding to a query, the internationally acclaimed former beauty queen said that the CMC had a vital role to play to prepare the city in view of the Colombo Financial City now being rapidly built.

Senanayake urged the people to have faith in the UNP, a party that always adopted development oriented strategies to ensure sustained progress.

Both Karunanayake and Senanayake vowed to retain CMC. Senanayake said that the UNP would ensure a smart, green city. She vowed to have a workable plan to address longstanding issues, such perennial problem of garbage disposal.

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