UNP National Organiser Navin Dissanayake told a press conference held yesterday that he would not contest the upcoming general elections if he were not allowed to contest under the elephant symbol.
“UNP MP K.K. Priyadasa and I will not contest unless it is under the elephant symbol. We have already informed this to the Working Committee. Refusing to contest under a new symbol is our personal opinion. There is no point in contesting under a new symbol in the Nuwara Eliya District as people in that area are used to the elephant. Therefore, we have asked the party to allow us to contest under the elephant at least from Nuwara Eliya. It will take a considerable amount of time for people to get used to a new symbol,” he said.
When asked if the SLPP was not successful contesting under the Pohottuwa symbol, he said the SLPP promoted the new symbol even before contesting the local government elections. It was easier for the SLPP as it had the grassroots support from the beginning, he said.
Furthermore, he suggested an SLPP-SLFP style arrangement as a solution to the tussle between the UNP and Jathika Janabalavegaya for the symbol.
“The elephant symbol should be used in districts where people are used to it. Therefore, the alliance together with the UNP should contest under elephant in the Nuwara Eliya District. Party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has already met the Nuwara Eliya District leaders and grassroots members of the UNP. A majority favours the elephant symbol. We are made to understand that the SLFP is going to contest under the hand symbol in some districts while contesting under a common symbol in others. A majority in the Working Committee too favour the elephant symbol. However, there is no opposition from the Working Committee to contest under swan symbol,” he said.
Coming up with more proposals to resolve the issue pertaining to the symbol, he suggested that the matter be resolved through a secret ballot.
“Party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and opposition leader Sajith Premadasa met on Wednesday night and discussed some proposals. The advisory committee appointed to look into the matter will meet today to decide the matter,” he said, while assuring that all matters would be resolved by next Monday.