fter 16 months of holding the post of Prime Minister, is UNP on a navigated route or on a collision course with the people? Undoing is self-inflicted: mainly caused by the leader’s cloistered advisers living far away from the people. Good governance kids of this regime are deserting in its early days: the last regime lost the youth in their last days.
Premier Wickremasinghe promised to introduce transparency and eliminate sharp practices. The Governor of the Central Bank stung his leader’s reputation in a decision that called for a review. Friends can ruin reputations earned over decades in politics more than any adversary.
Rajapaksa; poorly advised, talks mystically, doing little and spending nothing: yet, is winning the hearts and minds of the poor. There is a hole in the pocket of the government caused by their home economies. The company they keep live in the clouds.
MR undertook projects that showed results -- let alone the cost, waste and pilfering -- results were visible to the naked eye. Allegations do not matter to the poor; they do to the floating voter or idyllic young coming to the polling booths.
The military won the war, ushered peace and went back to the barracks. Rajapaksas emerged, took over the country in an overpowering and overbearing manner. The Rajapaksa brothers shone since preferring lesser mediocrites for company.
War victory gave the previous regime a new lease of life and the UPFA thought gratitude was a life long romance.
Poor advisers, crony sycophants and lethargic administrators saw their end after enjoying many a ball in the park. Rajapaksas were result-oriented and had achievements to display. How they achieved them - is another story for another day? Nevertheless, showed the way to success especially, the Defence Secretary. Implementation was embedded in the drawing boards as the administrators were always behind times. That does not exculpate a lackadaisical President-in-charge. He should take a leaf from the Defence Secretary’s or Ranasinghe Premadasa’s diary of sweat and toil. He did not have a Wijedasa to monitor work.
A diffident, poorly-advised Ranil failed to contest successive elections for presidency. A weak diluted team consisting of winning UNP candidates and losing SLFP candidates formed a government. UNP appears fidgety being contaminated with losing candidates placed at peak points as gratitude to Sirisena but makes the government look dowdy.
Should we be ‘running dogs’ for those who thought the war was un-winnable and wanted an endless dialogue maintained to keep the terrorists alive? Indeed they were proved wrong.
To the Sinhalese, overcoming terrorism was the proudest moment in its present history. To mock it is to make an ‘Alimankade/Pamankade’ size howler for the opposition to crow, if they pick lines from Samaraweera’s letter to the former President.
" MR undertook projects that showed results -- let alone the cost, waste and pilfering -- results were visible to the naked eye. Allegations do not matter to the poor; they do to the floating voter or idyllic young coming to the polling booths"
Samaraweeras could have demolished Rajapaksa for cadging a free air ticket from the government for his African safari? Instead his NGO typescript in polished English gives three hearty cheers for those who did not want terrorism eliminated? Is this the work of a mature politician or the flow from a pen of a ghost writer of an NGO clan? UNP cannot afford to allow majorities enlarge in the South. Samaraweera and Rajapaksa are mixed up old boys sitting in two extremes. In the war phase, both reached their maximums on sides opposite; after the war they primed to the causes they propelled during the war – became unbalanced for failing to moderate their stances needed for a reconciliation exercise.
Face it – life is much harder; live show is the rising cost of living. Bound to be a major issue at the next election. This common complaint could extend to the North and East to make a difference at a close election. Problems are many as political parties are ruled by a generation too far gone; their contemporaries are living in retirement or have perished in the soil. Politicians last longer, better cared with greater comforts, spend holidays abroad in luxury at State expense to overcome the few hours of work with many hands to help. How possibly could the young emerge when the power points are retained by their grandfather’s greedy generation?
MR is affable but is not attracting the newly-disenchanted with the present government with his charm. He lives in the past with his past masters. Good timers around opened hospitality tents in the hope of entering parliament/finding places through any door. He cannot ferret new talent. Old timers are holding on to him by a tight leash and lingers on in anecdotal regime without encountering new blood.
It was the floating vote/new vote that undid MR and will undo the triumvirate of Wickremasinghe, Sirisena and Rajapakse. Whither they travel will decide the winner? If the floating and youth votes splits/stays at home - no government will have a majority.
Article 70 Amended by the19th Amendment compels a weak minority government to stay in office for 54 months without facing an election for 4 years and 6 months even if the government is defeated in Parliament unless 2/3 of its parliamentarians want an election. Franchise of the people is reduced, in the interim, to zero -- on which the Supreme Court developed a blind spot. Who suffers: who prospers: who judges?
Separatists will come to the forefront where the government is weak and has no majority. Parliamentarians will criss-cross the aisles defying the constitution, if the judiciary plays politics as done previously.
President Sirisena finds his men as liability; they will not earn SLFP votes as they did on the MR ticket; elections to the local authorities would tell the tale in full if it is held?
Trouble comes to the UNP in the form of economic indicators. Appointing Ravi Karunanayake as Finance Minister and Arjuna Mahendran as the CB Governor was asking for trouble?
Impact of VAT will be a telling factor at the local government elections. Undoubtedly, there is a greater degree of freedom for the affluent but has it percolated down to the people?
Next elections -- presidential or general, will be decided by two prime factors – (A) voting pattern of the under 35 voters and (B) floating voters. At times the two groups are inseparable. Some of the floaters may opt to stay at home in disgust.
All political parties have their home bases - constitute the bulk of their votes. They vote as their family ancestors did except for an odd black sheep or a maverick in a family. Others due to economic or educational or occupational or social factors keep voting for a party on a regular basis. Some are floaters that come home on the eve of an election to vote for the traditional party deeming it the lesser evil.
SLFP attracts more floating voters, bonded by winning the war. With their quixotic flavour, UNP supporters tend to stray when it clashes with the nationalistic tendencies or matters of principle. Mangala Samaraweera can quicken the tempo with his mumbo jumbo NGO type epistles.
If the youth fail to come to the forefront, sweeping away the aged, this country will suffer more, with the thinking remaining in the past tense. The next revolt is likely to be a jointer of the South and the North on an economic fall out.
Come forth Buddhikka Pathirana, Prasanna Ranatunga, Vidura Wickremnayake, M.A. Sumanthiran and others of such like. They held substantial majorities at the last election: time is right to surface before a vacuum could bring forth a Wijeweera or Prabhakaran acting in tandem. A new youthful democratic leadership is needed for a change - a choice for the better or worse?
The UNP won on the votes of the minorities, promise of good governance, new generation and the float vote coupled with the traditional UNP banks in the Kandyan and urban areas. The UNP can hold its strength amongst the minority Tamils and Muslims except on the economic count down. If the UNP loses ground with the other sectors in the equation, it will lose badly, if the elections are held on a ‘first past the post’ system. This is less than a mid-term report on limited time duration of 16 months. Parliament’s life line could be reduced if there was another terrorist attack or economic breakdown. If so, scorned will be the 19th Amendment if a 2/3 majority is required in Parliament.