A longstanding UNP stalwart in Rajarata and former Minister A. M. S. Adhikari yesterday vowed to set up an anti-Ranil UNP organisation and conduct countrywide protest campaigns to drive away Ranil Wickremesinghe from the party leadership.
Adhikari said he would never leave the UNP but continue his agitational campaign until Wickremesinghe stepped down from the UNP leadership.
`The first of these protest campaigns would be held in Anuradhapura shortly,` he said making a special statement to the media.
Adhikari said he was first elected a member of a Local Government Body from the UNP ticket in the 1950s.
Thereafter he contested the parliamentary election in 1965. Adhikari said when he was elected UNP member for Kalawewa at the 1974 by-election, Wickremesinghe was not even an MP or an organiser.
`When I engaged in politics alongside party leader late Dudley Senanayake, Wickremesinghe was very much in a back seat. The UNP can never regain power so long as Ranil remained the party leader,` he said.
Adhikari who alleged that Wickremesinghe is ruining the Party and its chances of coming back to power, said the UNP should be protected by forcing Wickremesinghe to step down from the leadership.
Adhikari said he had been UNP`s Anuradhapura District leader for 15 years and a Parliamentarian for 28 years.
He alleged Wickremesinghe became Prime Minister following President Ranasinghe Premadasa`s death because Sirisena Cooray turned down the post which was offered to him.
Adhikari said Wickremesinghe was able to become the UNP leader thanks to LTTE leader Prabhakaran.
`This may be one reason why Ranil did not utter one word against the LTTE leader,` he said.
The UNP had lost 12 elections under the leadership of Wickremesinghe and it would lose for the 13th time if he continued to be the leader, Adhikari said.
Adhikari said Anuradhapura district was represented by five UNP Parliamentarians when he was the party`s district leader and now the number had been reduced to three UNP MPs.
`Whatever Wickremesinghe does, the Executive Presidency will remain an elusive dream for him. He can never match President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga as regards mass appeal and her captivating smile,` Adhikari said.