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‘It Was Personal’ – Tissa Attanayake

While the United National Party (UNP) seemed to have reconciled prior to the Uva Provincial Council election, sources say there appears to be the emergence of an internal conflict, consequent to the General Secretary of the UNP, , resigning from the Leadership Council of the party. In an interview with The Sunday Leader, Attanayake spoke about the reasons for his resignation. 

Excerpts of the interview:

By Dileesha Abeysundara

 

Q: The UNP has come to fore again with the Uva PC election. What led to your sudden resignation from the Leadership Council (LC)?

A: It was due to personal reasons. A member of the Leadership Council had opposed the appointment of Sajith Premadasa as the Deputy Leader of the party, which led to a conflict on the policies the party holds. As a result of that situation, I decided to resign, and that was only one of the reasons. There are many other reasons as well, such as the manner in which the LC is functioning that I find unacceptable. However, I have been serving the LC and carrying out my duties. Eventually, the same member had proposed that the General Secretary of the party be removed. As such, I decided to resign as there is no point in being on the LC anymore.

 

Q: As a mature politician, could you justify your stand for having taken such a serious decision leading to your resignation from the LC, simply because of a statement made by an individual?

A: The UNP Leadership Council comprises a group of distinguished members of the party. When a member of such a committee had stated that I should be removed, I responded to his demand, and also informed the leader of the party as well as the head of the Leadership Council of my decision.

 

Q: Apart from the personal reason, is there any other reason for your resignation?

A: That reason should suffice. However, in recent times, various websites had posted defamatory and derogatory news items. I therefore thought to myself whether I should put up with such statements, and wondered if this is how I should be rewarded after having put in so much effort to uplift the party.

Q: Who is behind such activities?

A: I should not be talking about any person.

 

Q: At the initial stage, Sajith Premadasa had stated that if he is to accept the Deputy Leadership of the party, the Leadership Council should be abolished. What will happen to that condition now?

A: In fact, Sajith Premadasa did not make such a statement. The media tends to spread various stories. Some media talked about the Leadership Council. Some others reported that Sajith demanded that he be given various powers. But Sajith Premadasa never made such statements or demands. We must be responsible enough to offer him such powers. The LC was set up in 2011-2012. The news reports at the time on the LC created a situation in which it was not possible to bring the party together. Karu Jayasuriya agreed to lead the Leadership Council with the objective of uniting the party.

 

Q: Do you think there is no harm in having Sajith Premadasa in the Leadership Council?

A: At the last Working Committee meeting, a special committee was formed to conduct the Presidential Election campaign.

The UNP Leadership Council was set up especially to oversee the activities with regard to the Presidential Election and the party’s march forward, which was confirmed at the last Annual General Meeting of the party. The party may decide in the future if it should move forward under the LC or under any other system. It’s imperative that a decision in this regard is taken.

 

However, an organising committee comprising 20 members was appointed to oversee the Presidential Election under the guidance of the party leader. Karu Jayasuriya and Sajith Premadasa are the main members of this committee, and it would be advisable to keep them on either side of the leadership.

 

Q: However, the UNP leader has not said anything about the abolition of the Leadership Council. What is your view in this regard?

A: Nothing had been expressed in this regard. Karu Jayasuriya had stated at the Working Committee that if the Leadership Council was to be abolished, an alternative body should be set up, and supported. According to my understanding, the Presidential Election campaign will be led by a newly-formed election committee.

 

Q: There are some statements that you had resigned from the Leadership Council as you were forced to do so. Could you please comment?

A: I deny the statements that had been reported in some newspapers, as well some derogatory reports in some websites. I don’t have a special connection with the President or any other minister or MP; nor do I have any personal dealings with them as the general secretary of the UNP.

 

Q: The letter you had forwarded to the UNP leadership reflects a degree of rivalry between you and Ravi Karunanayake. Is there a problem between the two of you?

A: There are no issues between us. We have worked together and we will continue to work together in the future as well. There was a policy issue in the Leadership Council, and it was said that I should be removed from the position of general secretary of the party. It was a derogatory statement. We may have differing views but we are here to moot unity. I don’t wish to make any further comments in this regard. I don’t have a grudge against anyone, either. I am ready to work for the victory of the UNP at the next election, putting everything else behind me.

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