The struggle to bring Sajith Premadasa to the UNP presidential nomination and leadership was initiated by Harin Fernando. Harin spearheaded a campaign to boost Sajith's image in the fight for reorganization of the party as well as in the fight against the October 2018 coup.
Where is Harin now?
Harin Fernando also held the first rally at Badulla, his political stronghold, demanding Sajith's presidential nomination. Harin, even damaging his own political image, defended Sajith. It was Harin who spoke passionately on stage for Sajith. He even announced that he would quit politics if Sajith was not nominated.
Harin even spread false rumour on social media that Ranil - Sajith meeting on the 10th was tremendously successful and Sajith Premadasa in fact would be nominated as the candidate within the next couple of days. However, neither Sajith Premadasa was nominated as the presidential candidate, nor Harin Fernando is anywhere to be seen.
Harin, who was always frequent on the media on behalf of Sajith Premadasa, is fully silent now. His social media accounts have not been updated in regard to campaigning for Sajith. Over the week since the 10th was very busy and critical for Sajith Premadasa and his Faction with all the meetings i.e. meeting between Mangala, Kabir and Rajitha, meeting with the representatives of the minor parties, meeting with the TNA, the press briefing on Tuesday (17). But nowhere was Harin Fernando seen in either of the meetings.
Apparently, Malik Samarawickrama, Kabir Hashim and Mangala Samaraweera have been substituted for the role played by Harin Fernando.
It was Ranil Wickremesinghe who had brought Malik Samarawickrema to the party and made him the party chairman. There was bitter opposition in the party over Malik. The party had identified him as a man who thought of his business ventures rather than politics and who was engaged in politics in the interests of businesses. He was known as the destroyer of the Prime Minister and the UNP.
Malik was also deprived of the party chairmanship due to the fight carried by Harin for reorganization of the party. When Malik Samarawickrama stood as the rebel leader to Sajith Faction, it was obvious that Harin Fernando was mocked and intimidated, because he was known to be an honest politician.
The situation was further complicated when details of phone calls made by the President to Malik Samarawickrama asking him to name Sajith Premadasa as the candidate as soon as possible were exposed.
It was only recently revealed that Kabir Hashim was a number one deal-maker though despite his attempts to appear as the symbol of the national unity. When all the Muslim ministers of the government resigned over Easter bombing allegations, Kabir went to the President and took the oath of reinstatement as a minister again secretly without informing the Prime Minister. He had also met with political opponent Gotabaya Rajapaksa secretly in carrying out a discussion and only very recently was revealed to have knelt before the President not to remove the ministry of petroleum industries from his scope of subject.
He apparently had sought the President instead of solving the issue within the party.
No wonder why Harin Fernando was severely mocked and intimidated over his commitment to Sajith Premadasa in the first place.
Two months ago Mangala Samaraweera appeared as a fierce Ranilist. He is now stepping down on his 30 years of liberal political history and advocating for a completely different policy. This sudden change is uncanny.
He also has a very close connection with the President. Mangala, who had no knowledge of the subject of finance, was appointed as the Finance Minister due to the goodwill of the President. Mangala, on the other hand, is a longtime political loyalist of former President Chandrika Bandaranaike. Chandrika is once again playing a decisive role in the SLFP.
Mangala Samaraweera apparently has become another number one deal-maker in politics.
The unexpected metamorphosis of Mangala Samaraweera obviously would have mocked a clean politician like Harin Fernando.
Sajith's media briefing on Tuesday was attended by Malik Samarawickrama, Kabir Hashim, Mangala Samaraweera, Ranjith Madduma Bandara and Chandrani Bandara, the same UNP members who had earlier met with the President to appeal not to change Hashim's portfolio. They are apparently the five enemies who are trying to solve the problems of the UNP by kneeling before the ultimate enemy to the party - the President!
Needless to say, Harin Fernando is honest in politics and hardly survives the swamp he was put in. We do not know whether Harin will go along the path, but he is silent for now. We have reviewed the reasons above. Understanding is up to UNP members.