SJB invites UNP | Sunday Observer

SJB invites UNP

SJB leader, Sajith Premadasa
SJB leader, Sajith Premadasa

The Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) has extended an invitation to the United National Party (UNP) to join hands with the SJB in its way forward. The invitation came from SJB national list parliamentarian Harin Fernando after the SJB led by Sajith Premadasa was left triumphant against its parent party, the UNP, after the latter suffered a humiliating defeat at the recently concluded General Election. Following the split between the two parties, the SJB which contested separately from the UNP obtained a total of 2,771,980 votes and 54 seats in Parliament while the UNP had to be satisfied with a mere seat.

Now, having the upper hand in the SJB - UNP conflict, Fernando said that while the SJB will continue in its path they also invite the UNP to join hands with them. “The SJB had to fight against a dictatorial party leader. “The people answered him at the election,” Fernando said.

“The UNP is our own heritage” he said. Despite suggestions, Fernando expressed his doubts on if discussions should take place between the SJB and the UNP. “The people placed their faith in the SJB. So, if that has to be pointed out that is a major issue” he said.

National list MP Tissa Attanayake of the SJB has also expressed his willingness to mediate between the parties so that defeated UNP leader Ranil Wickramasinghe could make an honourable exit from politics.

“That will be based on the condition that Premadasa will be allowed to lead the UNP” he said. Differing from Fernando, Attanayake said he personally feels that the UNP should enter into discussions with the SJB post August 20 which is the day that the new Parliament will meet. However, despite putting on a united front, conflicts within the SJB were also revealed following the election as the party struggled to nominate names to the national list MP slots of the party. The SJB had received seven national list seats and had initially planned to name Imtiaz Bakeer Markar, Ranjit Madduma Bandara, Harin Fernando, Eran Wickramaratne, Tissa Attanayake, Mayantha Dissanayake and Diana Gamage as its nominees.

However, faced with objections from several of its constituent parties led by the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress’s Rauff Hakeem and Mano Ganesan’s party, the final approval of the list was delayed. The parties representing the country’s minorities had suggested that each of them should be given representation as well. Several meetings were held and ended with no conclusion.

But following a final meeting on Wednesday (12) all parties of the alliance had agreed to the original nominations. Resolving the issue surrounding the national list nominees, the SJB now appears to be gearing up to move forward and face all future elections.

Therefore, confident and riding on a high the SJB has now announced that it would contest the upcoming Provincial council elections under the SJB banner and party symbol the telephone. This was confirmed by the General Secretary of the SJB, Ranjith Maddumabandara.

He too too extended an invitation to lower rung UNP members to join the SJB to contest under its banner at the local government election. “But we will not accept any corrupt individuals,” he said.

But even as all issues within the SJB now appear to be settled, former governor of the Western province Azath Salley has now come out with a video voicing his dissent at not being nominated for a SJB national seat slot. According to Salley, he had been promised a seat by the SJB. He also said that a minority representation should have been provided by the SJB.

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