Only a day ago, the United National Party suffered the worst defeat in history, by collecting only 249,435 votes (2.15%) island wide in this year's General Election. The UNP failed to secure a single seat in any of the 22 electoral districts and managed to collect only one National List seat under the 'proportional system.'
This would be the outcome of the turmoil that went on within the party that once had a political glory as the oldest party in Sri Lanka formed in 1946. This was the fate of a political party held the governing power of Sri Lanka not longer than 10 months ago.
They inherited this historic defeat due to their arrogance in the face of a call from within the party to hand over the Party Leadership to Sajith Premadasa; due to the bureaucratic exaggeration they expressed in the face of the party's grassroots demands; due to the idiotic overconfidence believing that they could go ahead with people being the so called the Grand Old Party recognised among the upper class community; due to the belief on the emblematic quality of its traditional Elephant aka Aliya symbol.
In contrast, Samagi Jana Balawega, led by Mr. Sajith Premadasa, which contested for the first time as a political party, managed to poll 47 seats at the district level and 54 seats at the national list with 2,771,980 votes.
The figures indicate as if the Sajith Faction has taken away 90% of the UNP's vote base. Those who remained in the UNP emblem were the ones who were left in the scene after Ranil Wickremesinghe in the name of gaining leadership. This was the aim of Ravi, Naveen, Akila, Sagala, Vajira, Daya and Ruwan. But in the end, neither were able to win a parliamenteray seat.
If truth be told, it is not wrong to call Sajith Premadasa's achievement a victory. He had a newly formed party. The votes he managed to collect were brand new. He was conpelled to contest an election amidst an unprecedented health crisis. He did not even have the opportunity to promote his party's name and symbol adequately.
On the other hand, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa personally intervened and politically attacked Sajith Premadasa and his party with all his might, whilst the Samagi Jana Balawegaya was also harrassed by the United National Party.
This was also the first national election in which Sajith Premadasa organised as a party leader, had he been in the UNP at this point, he may have never.
Hence, this time the election campaign was led by the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna with its strong racial marginalisation through which an anti-Muslim agenda was launched. In the backdrop the Muslim leaders stood with Sajith Premadasa. SLPP the political celebrity incited Sinhalese nationalism and directed a despicable racist political attack on Muslim politicians and the camp they represented, the Samagi Jana Balawegaya.
Nevertheless, Premadasa Jr against all adversities ignited his political prowess, by covering 15,131 kilometres in a short span of five weeks and addressed 434 public meetings around the country. This could only be dreamed by any other party leader. On the other hand, no matter how much he was defamed by bigots, he stood up for the minority political leaders who were with him. Thus, Sajith Premadasa appeared unconditionally on behalf of his party MPs when the government imprisoned them on various charges.
That being said, Sajith Premadasa, despite the weight of the presidential defeat months ago, faced an election with a very limited number of resources and amidst a public health crisis, winning 54 seats without an organised party network, conclusively "bravo!".
A Telephone literally knocked down an Elephant!
The real challenge that lies before Sajith Premadasa is to form his party with a giant mechanism in the grassroots and sabilise it. The United National Party on the other hand has two option - Either join Sajith, or disappear from the political arena.