It seems that Sirisena might not survive on the good work he has done
The United National Party (UNP) led by Ranil Wickremesinge is hellbent on finding stability at present. It’s the UNP that calls the shots in the Government and also takes the blame for much of the mess that the regime is in now.
As much as it’s focused on brainwashing the people to believe in what it preaches on public forums, the Government these days is also keeping an eye on the dissident former ministers and the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) marshaled by Mahinda Rajapaksa. This is largely due to talks about the former president and the present head of state Maithripala Sirisena showing interest to form a caretaker Government.
If we rewind the clock back to 2015 it was a time when Sirisena and Rajapaksa fell out in their relationship as politicians. Sirisena took on the much popular Rajapaksa at the presidential elections and recorded a shock win. There was bitterness between the two for many years after this election. Both took swipes at each other when speaking at public platforms. Sirisena hated Rajapaksa’s culture because it bred thuggery and corruption. Sri Lanka entered a healthy phase in its political history and people enjoyed a large dose of democracy more than anything else. At the beginning of Sirisena’s tenure as president it seemed that democracy would infuse fresh blood into industries and state institutes, which needed to be reformed.
At the beginning Sirisena found an ally in Wickremesinghe and the two began laying the platform for the Yahapalana Government to play a long innings. And more importantly the two managed to build up a majority in Parliament.
However Sirisena’s focus on the downtrodden masses and Wickremesinghe’s vision for the country, which demanded high spending, brought about a clash of ideas. Now it seems that this gulf between the two can never be bridged, despite the Yahapalana regime depending heavily on the duo’s union.
Wickremesinghe’s way of thinking probably annoys Sirisena. Just a few months ago the premier proposed the increasing of ministers’ salaries by over 200% His proposal came at a time when the country was struggling to deal with its debt commitments. President Sirisena shooting down this proposal also exposed the fact that the UNP is not farsighted; mainly in remaining in power. Economic experts state that the Government was warned about the impending financial crisis when this unwanted proposal was made with the intention of fattening the purses of ministers.
Another condition laid out by Rajapaksa is for the SLFP to server ties with the UNP if the ‘Blue Party’ intends receiving the support of the newly formed SLPP
The Yahapalana regime resembles a boat in mid-sea which is fast running out of fuel. Now even the promise of a larger dose of democracy won’t help take this Yahapalana regime forward. It needs politicians to form the majority in parliament and money to settle debts. Wickremesinghe’s economic brain has failed to bring financial stability to this Government and the ever depreciating rupee.
In this wake we hear of Sirisena showing desperation more than a keenness to forge allies with his former ‘boss’ and rival Rajapaksa. According to reports the two were scheduled to meet during the past few days for discussions. This is for the purpose of forming a caretaker Government. But the former president has underscored that he would not form a caretaker government with those who have ‘sold the country’. Another condition laid out by Rajapaksa is for the SLFP to sever ties with the UNP if the ‘Blue Party’ intends receiving the support of the newly formed SLPP.
The people of this country are frustrated more than being confused. It’s likely that Sirisena would join hands with Rajapaksa. This arrangement would mean that Sirisena remains as president and Rajapaksa gets the premiership; a post which the ousted former president, many say, is clamouring for. If this happens it would mean that the Yahapalana regime that the people voted for will die a natural death; taking the democracy that it gave the people along with itself to the ‘grave’. This could bring real frustration to the minds of the people who value reconciliation, fair play, peace and religious harmony among communities.
But it seems that Sirisena can’t survive on the good work he has done. People are demanding a stable economy and it seems that Sirisena sees a way out of all his miseries by forging a working relationship with Rajapaksa. Thousands of people lost their jobs and many private sector institutes have collapsed due to an unstable economy and lack of opportunities.
Recently some academics who spoke at a Viyathmaga press conference had indicated that there was deterioration in economic, social, judicial and cultural spheres. They have also pointed out that the debt rate as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product has risen to 102%; which was 71 % in 2014 under the previous regime.
Sirisena, it seems, is likely to tie up with a flexible Rajapaksa and not with a straight-jacketed Wickremesinghe. Sirisena emerged as a man possessing a clean sheet. But there have been reports of the president directly intervening and delaying or preventing the arrests of certain suspects.
The decision he took recently to de-gazette some parts of the Muthurajawela wetland has come under fire by critics, largely because of his role as the minister of environment and wildlife. Sirisena has shown during the recent past that he has the will to bend and change to suit the occasion, if it serves him well.
It’s a long way to go if at all this caretaker Government comes into being. But it happening is quite a possibility given that Rajapaksa still loves power and the support bases of Sirisena are fast falling apart!
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