Sajith-Anura Televised Debate on ITN Fizzles out Due to SJB Leader Premadasa not Turning up at Studio;JVP leader AK Dissanayake Participates in ITN’s “Tulawa”Hosted by Sudarman Radaliyagoda Instead

Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) leader Sajith Premadasa did not attend the scheduled televised debate with National People’s Power (NPP) leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake on the Independent Television Network (ITN) last night (June 6).

While Premadasa was absent, Dissanayake participated in the Thulawa political program, which was hosted by veteran broadcaster Sudarman Radaliyagoda.

Earlier in the day SJB MP Nalin Bandara voiced the party’s dissatisfaction with the ITN regarding its organisation of the debate between the SJB and the rival NPP. MP Bandara conveyed the party’s concerns in a letter to the state broadcaster, highlighting discrepancies in the planning process.

According to Bandara, the invitation extended by the SJB to the NPP was specifically for an initial debate between the economic councils of both parties with the debate between the leaders to follow thereafter. However, Bandara noted that ITN accepted a date proposed by the NPP without considering the scheduling discussions initiated by the SJB. Bandara emphasised that the SJB advocates for the debate to be conducted at a public venue with coverage from all broadcasts and print media.

In contrast, the NPP had previously agreed to ITN’s invitation for its leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, to participate in a televised debate with Opposition leader Sajith Premadasa. Dr. Nalinda Jayatissa, a member of the NPP Executive Council, acknowledged the ITN’s offer and confirmed Dissanayake’s readiness to join the debate. Dr. Jayatissa also requested ITN to confirm Premadasa’s attendance for the debate, emphasising the pre-scheduled nature of the event.

Despite the NPP’s acceptance, neither the SJB nor Premadasa responded to ITN’s proposal initially. The SJB had earlier proposed multiple dates for the debate, requesting the NPP to choose one. The NPP selected 6 June from the suggested dates.

ITN Chairman Sudarshana Gunawardana thereafter extended an offer to both the SJB and NPP to host the debate in writing. Gunawardana’s letter specified that the debate between Sajith Premadasa and Anura Kumara Dissanayake will be scheduled for Thursday, 6 June with plans to broadcast it live.

Courtesy:Daily FT