arin Fernando made an impassioned speech in Parliament the day Dayasiri Jayasekera resigned, formally announcing his decision to re-join his deshapalana thimbirigeya (political place of birth), the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), and contest the elections to the Wayamba Provincial Council.
On that occasion, Fernando ridiculed Jayasekera’s chief ministerial ambition, claiming that Johnston Fernando would make sure that his son Johan would obtain the highest number of preferential votes. Jayasekera prevailed, but that’s another story. What is pertinent here is that Harin Fernando mentioned in passing that before they entered the chamber that morning, Dayasiri had embraced him and wept. Harin said he too had wept. They were after all close friends in addition to being the most vocal of the UNP’s younger crop of MPs. Vocal, intelligent and blessed with a dash of charisma too.
And then we have this. On Tuesday in the Wada Pitiya panel discussion on a private TV channel, the two argued. That’s nothing new. They didn’t seem to be listening to each other. Nothing new. They were screaming, were not keeping to the topic under discussion and exhibited total disregard to notions of decent debating. Again it’s nothing new. What was new is the fact that the programme had to be abandoned midway because two unruly, ill-tempered middle-aged men lost control of their testosterone urges and indulged in fisticuffs.
How quickly love turns to hate in politics. The reverse is also true. After all at one time, Dayasiri was the most strident critic of the Government. That’s not news either. The lesson however needs to be learnt, remembered and if forgotten re-learnt. These politicians are a bunch of ego maniacs who have the gift of turning a phrase and turning party colour. They will defend one position and attack another but would have no qualms about attacking the position they defended and defending the position attacked the next day.
The lesson is that these politicians and what they say should not be taken seriously. These two are not rookie politicians. One is a Chief Minister of a Provincial Council and the other is a Chief Minister aspirant. If this is the best they can come up with, there’s no point wasting time wondering what those below them are like. Indeed, even a cursory glance at the history of political bickering would show that Dayasiri and Harin are just following examples set by those who came before and those who are currently senior to them in their respective parties.
Tomorrow, let us not be surprised, if the two find themselves once again in the same party, happily exchanging pleasantries on the same political platform, embracing if necessary and sweet talking the voter to elect them both. They would in such a scenario even canvass for each other. That’s politics. That’s the politics of love and hate in Sri Lanka. There’s only one consolation. The supporters were entertained. In most situations their heroes wine and dine together after a gruelling day at the political office (be it in Parliament or somewhere on the campaign trail) while supporters clash. This time around the bosses fought. Others watched. Now that’s entertainment. Let us all laugh while we can. By the way JVP’s Sunil Handunneththi won the debate uncontested, all things considered.
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