Hot on the heels of the SLPP convention where Gotabaya Rajapaksa announced his bid for the presidency, the United National Party staged a massive rally in Badulla on Monday (Aug 12) where one politician stood out from the crowd.
UNP Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa received a presidential welcome when he took to the stage to address the thousands that had gathered for the rally. It was not mentioned directly that Sajith Premadasa would be the UNP candidate for the upcoming presidential election, however, that did not stop Sajith or the people of Badulla from treating it like a presidential rally.
Minister Premadasa commenced addressing the people that had gathered in a slow and stoic manner issuing promises of creating a secure and developed and proud country before gathering steam later on during his address as he tackled issues such as poverty, terrorism, and foreign agreements.
He noted that a meritocracy or merit-based system should be created in this country in order to fast track development in the country, emphasizing that development cannot be implemented by a select group of friends. While stating that this is what he aims to create, the Sajith also reminded the people something that politicians seem to have forgotten,
“Everyone involved in state governance should understand that it is temporary and that it is the people who give us this temporary mandate. When carrying out this mandate the main part of our plans should be the people of the country.”
Sajith Premadasa also identified the SME sector as the driving force behind economic development in the country and stated that he understands that those in power should encourage and uplift local industries while providing them with targeted relief in order to improve their businesses. The 51-year-old presidential hopeful also identified that the ideas of the youth of the country should be reflected in governance adding that he would bring about a new system which would make them the standard-bearers of this proposed new drive towards a more developed Sri Lanka.
The Minister of Housing also emphasized the importance of well-drawn out plans aimed at national goals. He also emphasized the need to review these plans on a weekly, monthly or yearly basis to ensure that the plans benefit the people of the country.
Premadasa reiterated that the benefits of development should be experienced by everyone in the country and lamented the fact that the poorest 20% experience only 4% of economic dividends while the wealthiest 20% enjoy 54% of it. He explained that a majority of the people living in Sri Lanka are struggling to survive be it the heavily taxes middle class or the unempowered estate sector workers. Premadasa vowed to put an end to this system and ensure that everyone in the country benefits from the progress of the country.
While emphatically stating that there is no room for terrorism or terrorists in Sri Lanka the Deputy Leader of the UNP also vowed to take aim at the conspirators who spread extremism within the country. He noted that as a Sinhala Buddhist leader it is his responsibility as well as the responsibility of everyone in power to ensure equal rights and protection for everyone.
Premadasa who has been traveling across the country over the past 4 years implementing his program to provide housing for all, noted that he would not allow any foreign power to divide our nation adding that he would not sign any foreign agreements, military or economic, which is detrimental to the country or the people.
With one last hurrah, the son of late President Ranasinghe Premadasa reminded the people that gathered in Badulla today that he is willing to lay down his life for the people of this country just like his father and assured that with the help of the masses he will get to where he needs to go come November.
With this, he stepped down from the podium and the race for 2020 just got hotter!