Can Sajith go against the tide?

30 October 2019 12:59 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Sajith has proposed the forming of a new constitution

These are hilarious pre-election days where citizens of this nation are getting to hear about fancy plans presidential candidates have for them. Presidential hopeful Sajith Premadasa has challenged his main counterpart Gotabaya Rajapaksa for a debate, but the debate seems to be a non-starter. The Rajapaksa camp questions Sajith’s credentials before the debate and the response of its members is that they wouldn’t want to waste time on such an event. This could be a preferred way of ‘rubbing it in’ with regard  to annoying the opposition. Sajith has not in return inquired into Gotabaya’s qualifications, but that’s besides the point. 

 


  • It also suggests that the state employee would have to embrace a serious working culture
  • His rounds in Galle before the elections have underscored the fact that the tea small holders are in jeopardy
  • It would be silly for Sajith to copy Gotabaya or outsmart his opponent
  • Sajith has quickly learned that what wins the elections here in Sri Lanka is the ‘best’ thing rather than the ‘right’ thing

Whatever bits and pieces people are picking up from the manifestos released to the press suggest that both candidates have plans for the people. Gotabaya is well ahead on this and the benefits he is to offer citizens have been viewed positively. Some of the key points to ponder in his manifesto are establishing a smart military system to enhance national security, introduce new policies for education, create opportunities for new professionals, have a smart green city by launching re-urbanization programmes, increase the employee’s contribution to 15%, introduce a 24-hour bus service, offer a Rs 25, 000 wage hike to the private sector, establish garment industries in the north and set up 50 free trade zones in the island. While all these points look good, the former military man has been criticised for making a proposal not to tax the Treasury to settle the expenses of state organisations. Gotabaya’s ambitious proposals here suggest that state institutes will have to be more efficient and earn for themselves! It also suggests that the state employee would have to embrace a serious working culture; all good if it can be put to practice given that trade unions can buckle such plans. 

Prime Minister’s adviser Dinesh Weerakkody has criticised this point and responded by saying that such a move would see people end up making a collective expense of Rs 25,000 for the use of water and electricity. Gotabaya’s plan to ensure that every child who passes the Advanced Level Exam enters university would run into obstacles given the severe shortage of facilities in state universities. This move in education would also make him cross the paths of academics, given that there are existing traditions practised at university. Whether a man with a military background taking the hot seat as president would allow for democracy and consensus is left to be seen. 

When one compares Sajith with Gota, the bulk of the content in the latter’s manifesto formulates a plan to put right a failed economy. But Sajith might make himself vulnerable if he harps on the old ways in which politicians worked; giving relief

Gotabaya’s campaign meanwhile is unearthing some vital info. His rounds in Galle before the elections have underscored the fact that the tea small holders are in jeopardy. Two industries that are suffering badly due to lack of opportunities are building and road construction. For the record Provincial Councils are choking at present because the Treasury has not released as much as Rs 6 billion to settle bills for projects implemented during the year under review. Also the Treasury is in arrears of more than Rs 650 million each to the authorities of Central, North Central and Uva Provinces. 

Gotabaya’s opponent Sajith has scored some brownie points by making a statement that his regime would provide women with free sanitary products. Sajith has also promised much in his elections manifesto, which he is expected to be launched on October 31 in Kandy. But the son of former slain president Ranasinghe Premadasa must quickly provide answers for some of the burning issues in the country; key among is how to raise funds to settle the debt commitment of the nation. When one compares Sajith with Gota, the bulk of the content in the latter’s manifesto formulates a plan to put right a failed economy. But Sajith might make himself vulnerable if he harps on the old ways in which politicians worked; giving relief. 

We have been governed by either the Greens or the Blues during a 71-year period after independence and a striking feature in the majority at present is their tendency to wait for the regime to do everything for them. The elections candidate who tries to change this system of dependence would set himself on a winning path. It would be silly for Sajith to copy Gotabaya or outsmart his opponent. Sajith has proposed the forming of a new constitution; a move which would be loved by the minorities and has the potential to break Gotabaya’s momentum. It shows from his campaign that Sajith has quickly learned that what wins the elections here in Sri Lanka is the ‘best’ thing rather than the ‘right’ thing. People like Rauff Hakeem, Rishad Bathiudeen along with most of the Tamil lawmakers backing him for the upcoming elections confirm the above. 

Gotabaya’s plan to ensure that every child who passes the Advanced Level Exam enters university would run into obstacles given the severe shortage of facilities in state universities. This move in education would also make him cross the paths of academics

If one divides the society into the diverse cultures practised, the majority would be for Sajith. But he is no fool to entertain thoughts of complacency when the Sinhala majority rhetoric in the other camp has made Gotabaya the favourite. Sajith’s focus must not be to smash Gotabaya at a television debate. He must now earnestly study the human qualities of Gamini Dissanayake, intelligence of Lalith Athulathmudali, efficiency of his late dad Ranasinghe Premadasa who collectively made the UNP a formidable force. And last, but not least he can take a cue from the first Executive President of the nation, J.R Jayewardene, also a UNPer, who knew his weakness at public speaking, hence the ‘employing’ of R. Premadasa to do the talking! As for Sajth this is not the time to ‘walk the talk’, but to get his talk right!

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