The election results in Elpitiya a few days ago underscored the fact that politicians can obtain benefits from investments if they’re done wisely. Many moons ago the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime invested heavily on the Southern Expressway. Political analysts point out that the people of Elpitiya, a village in Galle District, benefited immensely by this facility; largely because the folk in the village are involved in producing cinnamon, low grown tea, rice and rubber. We can’t forget the fact that the Rajapaksa regime invested heavily on finishing the war against Tiger rebels. Politicians like the Rajapaksas only have to remind the people about their past work and most often the votes are assured.
But there are of course instances where the voters would not consider such politicians. The educated voter, the minorities who savour their culture and people who are governed by a conscience may vote for a candidate like Sajith Premadasa who has the least fingers pointed at him for wrong doings. But even he was taken to task by Information Technology (IT) experts recently when he made a claim that he was using an ‘Artificial Intelligent Management Board’. The IT professionals shot down Sajith’s statement saying that the lawmaker was making claims in advances without incorporating any such advanced technology. Lawmakers please take not that this is an era where people are educated and are professionals and fooling them is unthinkable.
- Gotabaya has done his homework. He has offered help to farmers trapped in obtaining micro credit loans
- Basil Rajapaksa has said that people today trust in professionals and not in politicians
Voters wish to see benefits or results from the work of lawmakers. This is possible where professionals are employed and given a freehand to apply their knowledge. This was confirmed by Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) founder Basil Rajapaksa who said that people today trust in professionals and not in politicians. He made these comments when addressing the gathering after opening the SLPP Engineering and Medical Fronts recently. He said that his party was adopting an environmentally friendly political theme in development work. This is a significant change in thinking because there were complaints in the past by professionals like engineers that they were not allowed to apply professionals thinking due to political interference.
A peep into social media underscores the fact that the national sentiment is overused by the Rajapaksa loyalists. This group harps on the fact that Sinhala Buddhist voters have a responsibility towards safeguarding the race, the religion and the country and can do it without the votes of the minorities. But presidential hopeful Gotabaya Rajapaksa thinks otherwise. That’s why we saw him move closely with the Muslim and Tamil communities, canvassing for votes. The SLPP elections candidate is scoring because the party has hired a professional in Basil Rajapaksa; a person who knows much about striking political deals.
In this aspect the UNP seems to have got it wrong. Initially the Green Party wanted to appoint former UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake to handle propaganda work for Sajith. But that plan was shelved in the face of opposition coming from party seniors who wanted Malik Samarawickreme to play that role. Now the UNP hierarchy has appointed a committee to do election campaigning for Sajith. The choice of Attanayake was contested because he is considered as a failed politician and certainly lacks the confidence of a professional like Basil who is showing the ruthless efficiency needed to play this role.
Many people opine that Gotabaya landed from overseas and doesn’t understand ground realities when it comes to politics. But a quick glance at the election manifestos of both top presidential candidates show that Gotabaya has done his homework. He has offered help to farmers, those trapped in obtaining micro credit loans, those affected by Chronic Kidney Disorder, those affected by the human-elephant conflict and those who don’t receive a pension after having served in the civil defence force. Just the other day we saw his brother Mahinda arrive after he had made his speech at the rally in Anuradhapura. This was possibly done to show critics that Gotabaya doesn’t need to be escorted on to the stage by his popular brother and that the presidential hopeful with a military background can stand on his own feet in the field of politics. Mahinda’s professionalism in politics has never been contested since the day he was made the leader of the ‘Blue Party’ before the 2005 Presidential Elections.
Sajith has also scored some brownie points after releasing his manifesto to the media. A point to ponder is the decision taken to hand over national security to former Army Commander and present Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka who is also a lawmaker now. Lapses in security created by the government were exposed during the April 21 bombings. And however much critics and political writers try to undermine the role and presence of Fonseka during the war against terrorism, this man proved that he was not only an essential part in the nation’s defence mechanism, he was also an institution himself within the Sri Lanka Army.
This is a time when the Cardinal has said ‘no’ to the ruling UNP regime. Quite rightly so because the Wickremesinghe regime handed over security to an individual like Hemasiri Fernando who proved how incompetent he is in handling security matters. This is a time when the pulse of the people needs to be read correctly. TNA parliamentarian Raveendran Kodeeswaran has echoed the fact that the vote of the Tamil alliance would go to the candidate who can ensure the security of the Tamils. Even the Muslims have asked for the same from both leading election candidates. What all this underscores is that it’s okay to spend on national security and to put a professional in charge of this vital department.
Another area to focus on is Agriculture. What both top election candidates need to understand is that they need to entertain thoughts of empathy over sympathy in the field of agriculture. Gotabaya’s idea to pay compensation to farmers whose crops are affected by floods and the drought could be termed old thinking compared to the vision Sajith has to establish a production controlled economy, which would be driven by a guaranteed price for produce through a charter. Sajith’s plans also include obtaining the services of a team of scientific experts and professionals who’ll be hired to strengthen the economy. It seems like Sajith is looking at those who make contributions to the economy through a pair of glasses which has the word ‘empathy’ inscribed on it!
These crucial days also pose some concerns because the Maha Sanga (Buddhist clergy) is divided as to who the citizens should vote for. Sajith has his share of support coming from the three main sects which the Buddhist priests represent. Recently he was in Kandy for religious observances. A report in a Sinhala weekend newspaper revealed that there had been objections to a certain section of priests chanting pirith to bless Sajith because they were from a different sect. The matter was later resolved. Afterwards there was welcome news when people heard that Sajith was planning to hold a ‘Dhamma Sangayana’ in order to get the priests into one line of thinking in terms of Buddhist affairs.
Priests like other professionals should agree on and promote Gautama Buddha’s true teachings without polluting them with practices of different sects in Buddhism. Given that Sajith has had a close rapport with the temples and priests he could be the best bet to make this change.
Both Sajith and Gotabaya have their plans for the country. All changes that these two have mapped out for the country should have the blessings of professionals and not merely the okay that is given by patriots and the clergy whose thinking is influenced by the heart and not the mind.