Sept 16, Colombo: The new Deputy Leader of the United National Party (UNP) Ruwan Wijewardene has said that he is ready to work with the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) in the affairs of the Opposition and that several members of the Opposition have held discussions with him in the last few days.
He was addressing the media after attending religious ceremonies at the Hunupitiya Gangarama Viharaya in Colombo yesterday (15) to receive blessings after assuming the post of Deputy Leader.
The Chief Incumbent of the Gangarama Vihara Dr. Kirinde Assaji Thero and other members of the Maha Sangha blessed Ruwan Wijewardene and performed religious rituals.
Speaking further, Wijewardene said those who left the UNP and joined the Samagi Jana Balawegaya still have the UNP in their minds.
The former State Minister said he had no intention of becoming a National List MP and that his aim was to begin reorganizing the party, adding that he would soon discuss with the Working Committee and nominate a suitable candidate to fill the National List slot.
“We have a massive task get the giant party back on track. I am ready to work dedicatedly for that,” he said.
“My aim is to keep everyone in the party together and strengthen the party. Everyone wants the party to move forward. Most felt that a youthful leadership was needed to completely reorganize the party and bring about a new face,” he added.
Responding to media queries, Wijewardene said the 19th Amendment has shortcomings. It was brought under the leadership of Ven. Sobitha Thera to strengthen democracy by giving more powers to Parliament.
“Opposition to the 20th amendment has been expressed within this government itself. It is my belief that the 20th Amendment is detrimental to the country. We are ready to fight against it in the future. 19th Amendment problems arose due to the President's estrangement with our Prime Minister. Those shortcomings can be rectified. 19th amendment can protect democracy.”
“Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe has a good knowledge about that. We are ready to discuss the shortcomings in the 19th Amendment with the government.”
Speaking about the party leadership, the former parliamentarian said former deputy leader Ravi Karunanayake will not leave the party. “He is a mature politician who has made a great commitment for the party. The party needs his knowledge and activism,” Wijewardene said.