“True leaders do not make choices with reference to the opinion of the majority. They make choices based on the opinion of the truth and the truth can come from either the majority or the minority!” ― IsraelmoreAyivor,
We are badly and desperately in need of leaders. No, not the ‘dealers’ of the type of the top three men who stake claims for ruling this country at present. Real Leaders!!
With the Easter Sunday bombings, the entire political landscape has been turned on its head. This is specially so with regard to the prospects for the upcoming elections, i.e. Presidential as well as General elections. While the country has been stalled economically due to the attacks , it is not a secret that even before the bombings the growth rate has been languishing without any substantial investment in the country coupled with a mounting foreign debt.
This article does not wish to address the issue of our economic progress or the lack of it. Instead it attempts to shed light on the general collapse of governance that the country has been facing for decades now. The general slide that democratic governance has taken since the Executive Presidency was introduced by JR Jayawardena in 1978 by the Second Republican Constitution continued unchecked till January 8, 2015. Then , there was a glimmer of hope, at least that was what we thought.
Rational and logical thinking has been replaced by fanaticism and communalism and the three leaders who call them national leaders are ready to touch the base instincts aroused by the recent developments
Old habits die hard
Election of the common candidate Maithripala Sirisena as President promised a lot to a citizenry who were waiting for change. They were willing to remove a President who had been in power for two consecutive terms and more importantly had led the country to victory in the civil war against a guerilla outfit in the form of the LTTE which was considered the most ruthless and formidable terror organization in the world. Initially the Sirisena Presidency and the Unity Alliance government that came to power after the August general elections did seem to be leading the country in the path of democratic governance, rule of law, transparency etc. Yet it took little time for the old habits of the usual powermongers to take shape, not only creating a schism in the unity government but also leading up to what seemed to all, to be a tug of war based on a personal disliking or even enmity between the President and PM.
The most notable and unmistakable consequence of the said tug of war was what was commonly known as the Constitutional Coup of October 26, 2018. While President Sirisena took a 180 degree turn in appointing former President Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister, the legally elected Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe refused to budge an inch and as we all know the matter ended up with the Supreme Court ruling that the dissolution of Parliament by the President was unconstitutional and which , eventually led to the MR government collapsing and Wickremesinghe being confirmed as Premier of the Country based on the superior support he had in the Parliament.
Duty cast by country
As the country was barely recovering from the ill effects of the Constitutional Coup, which without a doubt was engendered by the power lust of the top three politicians, there came the Easter Sunday bombings which again struck the country like a thunder bolt out of the blues. Yet as it was later revealed, it was not out of the blues that the strike had come , apparently, but there had been a lot of intelligence and information regarding the murderous outfits of Zahran and his aides. Yet once again it seemed that while the top two figures of the country who call themselves leaders were bickering against each other, they had neglected the duty cast on them to look after the security as well as the well-being of the country and its citizens.
The persons who call themselves leaders turn out to be who do not deserve that epithet attached to their names. As the Easter Sunday bombings very clearly show they are not willing, even at a time of national disaster, to shed their differences aside and unite for the good of the country . the character of those who were vying for Presidency cometh the next Presidential elections, was also clear that hardly had the blood of those innocent civilians dried up on the ground, that they were ready with announcing their candidacy at a future election.
Riding the dangerous communalist wave
Just as the UNP and SLFP who are the main components of the government showed that their leaders were only interested in clinging on to power by shifting the blame to each other and making scapegoats of the Police Chief as well as the Secretary of Defence, who on their own right are not above reproach, when the entire scenario of the bombings is concerned, the Joint Opposition, with their so called patriotic leaders showed that they were ready to put the future of the country at jeopardy by resorting to communalist and racist tactics, some times openly and sometimes otherwise, with the intention of appeasing the Sinhala Buddhist majority who had seemingly been angered by the bombings and were sniffing blood against the Muslims. They were and are ready to arouse the communalist sentiments among the majority Sinhala Buddhists with the knowledge that with the bombings the entire Sinhala majority has been paralyzed by a fear psychosis which some call islamophobia. They find it expedient and advantageous in terms of electoral success to ride that dangerous wave. They are hardly bothered by the great signs of danger such a brand of politics presents to the well being of us as a nation.
Persons who call themselves leaders turn out to be who do not deserve that epithet attached to their names
Rational and logical thinking has been replaced by fanaticism and communalism and the three leaders who call them national leaders are ready to touch the base instincts aroused by the recent developments and make them a sure fire method to power. The Maha Sangha under the aegis of the joint opposition is ready to undermine rule or law, consensual politics and racial and religious harmony by replacing it with an aggressive hegemonic monolith which they call Sinhala Buddhist patriotism. The Rajapaksas, obviously, stand to benefit from such a stance, while the President and the Premier are too timid and cautious of tackling such communalist onslaughts as they have their eyes on the next elections.
Dealers, not leaders
After deserting the ideals that they championed in 2015, commonly (and now derisively)called good governance, now they are brazenly pursuing lines of political projects diametrically in opposition to those ideals. To cover up the blatant violation of the promise to abolish Presidency , the President is now resorting to the most macabre projects conceivable such as the re introduction of the death penalty as a last ditch effort to convince the SLPP that he has a backing from the electorate. The Premier, on his part has abandoned the Constitutional Reforms which had been an immutable tune he played wherever he went until recently. He knows such amendments are not going to go down well with the chauvinistic segments in his shot at Presidency. The former President, is willing not only to cause the dilution, cracking up and the eventual demise of the SLFP, but more alarmingly to be the spear head of the racist ultra right that, in the likes of Ven. Galagodaaththe Gnanasara, is becoming dominant, rampant and more aggressive by the day.
It is not that the three ‘leaders’ do not realize that we are on a path, in which once you pass a point, is without return. Just that they do not care.
They are not leaders, but dealers of all kinds of abominable schemes, masters of trickery and expert con artists; and they have little qualms as long as they find a way to either retain or grab power.