President Maithripala Sirisena who was loved, voted for and ushered in with much hope for the country’s future now sees the road ahead of him in politics strewn with obstacles.
Some opine that the president is in dire straits given the unstable economy and the ever widening gulf between him and the Premier. There are also reports that the president has said that Wickremesinghe is stifling the efforts he is taking to carry out his work.
Amidst all these issues and uncertainties associated with the Yahapalana regime what really stirred a hornet’s nest was the story that did the rounds that Sirisena was going to team up with Mahinda Rajapaksa and form a caretaker Government.
Neither Sirisena nor Rajapaksa has denied having had a meeting in this regard, but the latter has used this opportunity to show that he is still the number one choice to lead a party, the country and the people. Rajapaksa has said that he would respond to forming a caretaker Government only if the call is made by Sirisena himself.
But as it is, that whole story about the emerging of an interim administration has boiled down to being someone’s made up story. But if there is something good about this speculative ‘story’ it exposed how vulnerable Sirisena is these days. He is running out of support within the Unity Government where the majority UNPers are talking about fielding their own candidate at the 2020 Presidential Elections. There is little hope for Sirisena even if he leans on the remaining SLFPers given that this party finished a poor third at the last LG Polls. Given this scenario the much hyped up story about a caretaker government being formed gives Sirisena time to think and play his cards right. Critics however point out whether he is left with any!
In political terms he has burnt the bridge as far as his relationships with Wickremesinghe and the UNP are concerned. Going down memory lane we saw how Sirisena was non-committal when the Joint Opposition moved a no-confidence motion against the Premier this year. Some say that Sirisena wished to see the ousting of Wickremesinghe because that would have allowed the president to have an SLFPer as the Premier. Can Sirisena now expect favours from Wickremesinghe in the future battles he has to face in the political sphere?
We see clearly that Sirisena is craving to be on the hot seat as president. Given that the majority in the Joint Opposition would snub him in the event he asks for support it is said that he is desperate in working out a way to retain power. Right now, as speculation suggests, the only person he can turn to is former President Rajapaksa. A fact that Sirisena must consider very seriously is that he would be in a weak position in the event he decides to approach Rajapaksa for help. On the other hand the party that Rajapaksa guides-Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP)- is on the verge of handing over the party reigns to him formally. This will increase the clout Rajapaksa has in politics.
In this backdrop UNP Leader Wickremensinghe has asked party seniors to talk to SLFP reps and find out their stance at the upcoming Provincial Council Elections. There are also reports of Sirisena chairing an ex-co meeting of the United Peoples’ Freedom Alliance (UPFA) where a decision was taken to appoint a sub-committee to review the party’s relationship with the UNP.
While Wickremesinghe wants the Provincial Council Elections held soon, those at the meeting that the President chaired had disagreed with the electoral system under which the elections would be conducted. Overall it would be more of a disadvantage for the SLFP to go for elections now given that even the UNP is ahead of them and the SLPP enjoys an overwhelming presence in the political set-up.
Sirisena’s political saga, it seems, is coming to a sad end, akin to the bank book of a businessman who has crashed!