Royalist Ranil targeted in absentia in Thomian Night skit


By Shamindra Ferdinando


The simmering leadership battle in the UNP was an object of fun on Friday night when UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe (in absentia) came under heavy flak in a stage skit over his meeting with President Mahinda Rajapaksa to explore ways and means of doing away with the executive presidency.

The 45-minute skit staged at the Thomian Night held at the Hotel Ceylon Continental mercilessly made fun at the absent Wickremesinghe, who returned from an overseas tour earlier in the day and rushed to Ranamayuragama, Ibbawela in the Weligama electorate to meet the family of Don Rienzie Algama.

The staunch UNPer committed suicide earlier in the week demanding an immediate end to squabbling in the party. Wickremesinghe loyalists and his foes have accused each other of causing Algama’s death, with some even suggesting an interested party could have supplied petrol and box of matches to the UNPer.


The organizers of Thomian Night, which drew a mixed gathering of UNPers, including some heavyweights, used the skit to depict UNP leader Wickremesinghe as a weakling, who had sought President Rajapaksa’s help to thwart the latest attempt on his leadership.

A sumptuous meal with a five-course menu accompanied by both red and white wine and preceded by Chivas Regal was part of the celebration.

Among those present were Rukman Senanayake, Bodhi Ranasinghe and Access Chief Sumal Perera, who took one table and UNP frontliner Ravi Karunanayake, MP, Lakshman Seneviratne, MP and UNP Western Provincial Councillor A.J.M. Muzammil.

Responding to a query by The Sunday Island, political sources said Royalist Wickremesinghe was not present though invited by the organizing committee. Had he been there, he would not have been amused by the barbs thrown in his direction on stage, they said.

The skit depicted the ongoing UNP-SLFP negotiations as a bilateral affair between President Rajapaksa and UNP leader Wickremesinghe saying that there had been a reference to MP Ravi Karunanayake’s Kilinochchiya and Medawachchiya remark in 2008.

The organizers are believed to have invited President Rajapaksa too for the celebration but he too was not present.

Sources said that initially the organizers had planned to use the skit to target Wickremesinghe but some opposed the move and suggested that President Rajapaksa too should be included in the cast for reason of balance.

Some sources say the UNP crisis is deepening with no end in sight ahead of the annual party convention.

Although the rebel group was not in a position to challenge Wickremesinghe, so-called reformists could do irreparable damage, they said. In their abortive bid to oust Wickremesinghe, they had caused heavy damage to the party which was struggling to stage a comeback in the wake of crushing defeats at the Jan 26 presidential and Apr 8 parliamentary elections.

Sources said that the reformists were unlikely to contest any of the posts, including the post of party leader, though the party was now ready to elect several key posts through secret ballot.

They say that Wickremesinhe’s camp was confident that those seeking to oust him could not even field candidates for the posts at the forthcoming annual convention of the party. All those big talkers, who had publicly criticized Wickremesinghe for repeated defeats at various elections had no desire to join the fray.

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