I have moulded a new generation of UNP leaders: Ranil

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The UNP led alliance’s presidential candidate Sajith Premadasa is one of the few new generations of leaders who would take over the party in the future, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday.

After officially naming Mr. Premadasa as the party’s candidate for the presidential elections at the party’s convention in Colombo, Mr. Wickremesinghe said he had achieved a task of creating a new generation of leaders in the UNP.

“A new generation of leaders has now emerged from the UNP. I can state with pride that I have achieved this task of creating such leaders. We have created a new leadership to take the UNP to greater heights. Our Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa is one of the future leaders we have created. I had the opportunity of making him a candidate at the 1994 general elections when he took up politics after his father’s demise. I was able to see that he became an MP, a deputy minister, a cabinet minister, deputy leader of UNP and now the presidential candidate of our party,” the Prime Minister said.

He said the party should see to it that a female leader also emerges in the future.

“We see several young leaders here today. However, there is a shortcoming. I have to state that in public. There is no woman who could be an emerging leader in the UNP although the country’s female population is more than 50 per cent. We have to overcome that shortcoming within the next decade,” he said in this regard.

“Our party suffered whenever there were divisions among ourselves. There were divisions in our party in 1955 and we lost the 1956 general elections. There were divisions in the UNP in 1991 and we lost in 1994. We lost in 1970 because of divisions. If divisions emerge in the party again we will be defeated. I as the party leader will see to it that the party will not be divided in the future. Our objective should be to win again and again. We were in power for 17 years and then remained in opposition for a longer period. We managed to come to power and form a government. This government crept towards a presidential election despite efforts made by the opposition to topple it. Don’t let go of power once you gain it,” the Prime Minister added.

“We will not put anyone in jail. What more do you want?. Is there an alternative to us? Is Angulimala an alternative? Will he attain enlightenment or will he bring white vans again. What we need is an export-based economy and a digital economy. Let’s march forward with this objective in mind. We have to win the presidential election first and then to win the general elections,” he said.