The Local Government elections concluded a week ago may perhaps remain the only one in our history that created a major crisis in the Central Government. In fact as I wrote in my last Friday column that the fate of Sri Lanka has already been decided by other factors that led to the election after this Unity Government dodged voters for over two years.
The elections brought with it the political conflicts within the ‘Unity’ Government out into the open and onto election platforms.
The fight between President Sirisena and the UNP leadership focussed on PM did not give President Sirisena the advantage of collecting anti-UNP votes as he and his advisors calculated.
Instead that was to the advantage of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Pohottuwa (Flower bud) party that still is in its infancy.
It is also accepted that the 25 percent mandate on women’s representation motivated young women to poll more this time and that too went in favour of Rajapaksa.
All in all Rajapaksa was proved a brand name, readily marketable across Sinhala South like no other popular brand had ever been before, in electoral politics.
Rajapaksa is also the single major factor that keeps all others in the Yahapalana Government scared stiff in parting ways for now.
The “Y” apologists demand President Sirisena and PM Wickremesinghe to stay put, to prevent a Rajapaksa return.
What for? is a question that is rarely answered, with two years of miserable and corrupt rule that Yahapalanaya was and is no second to Rajapaksa rule.
And they cannot part with each other and accuse each other of all mega corruption and all miserable collective failures in implementing what was promised.
While these Colombo pundits screamed hoarse against Rajapaksa and demand Rajapaksas are brought before law over mega corruption, these Yahapalana political leaders have been accumulating massive corrupt deals under their belts with the same Filthy Rich, the Rajapaksas were dealing with.
These Yahapalana leaders with a Russian warship deal, a massive digital frequency deal through TRC directly under President, a huge deal on renting the DPJ Tower on a Cabinet Paper submitted by the PM, a PR contract with a US company no different to Sajin Vas deals and a whole lot of more corrupt deals that have to be investigated into, therefore have no moral right to investigate any other.
Their failure therefore is not just that they were dragging feet over Rajapaksas. Their failure is that they cannot punish Rajapaksas who were wheeler-dealing with their own dealers doing business with them. Their failure is that they have no alternatives to Rajapaksa even on the economy.
Everything from Colombo Port City to Hambantota Port, including the Mattala Airport these Yahapalana leaders said is only good to store paddy, have now become their development projects.
They had to cut down on agriculture subsidies to workout IMF financial support and promised wifi instead of fertiliser.
It is not that they don’t understand rural issues. It is that this neoliberal economic path can only traverse the city and urban middle-class life.
The cumulative factor of Yahapalana rule is that they are totally alienated from over 70 per cent of the population in rural society that meant loss of votes at the elections. That also leaves them as failures in delivering on promises made three years ago that led to frustration among the middle-class voters at the elections.
It also leaves them as inefficient and corrupt too that saw them belting out empty promises once again during elections and people did not want to believe again.
Thus the Rajapaksa bogey has once again become their habitual answer to scare off people from demanding another change and to remain in power.
It is therefore not surprising to see the usually dependable politician Minister Mangala Samaraweera, issuing his most kiddish statement to date claiming “The UNP has a solemn duty not just to the 46 percent of the electorate who voted for us (the UNP) and President Sirisena’s SLFP (includes UPFA too) last Saturday, but to the entire resounding majority of our citizens, all 6.1 million of them (55.3%) who marched to the polls last Saturday and voted against a return to Rajapaksa rule.”
It is no hallucination in Mangala Samaraweera but fear of getting dislodged from the power that makes him believe 6.1 million of the people on Saturday polled against Rajapaksa.
The elections brought with it the political conflicts within the Unity Government out
None of the political parties here in Sri Lanka are democratic.
That social mood which now threatens this Yahapalana Government cannot be covered by a Rajapaksa bogey
Craze to hold on to power makes him and all “Y” apologists forget President Sirisena’s whole campaign was anti-UNP.
Sirisena was in competition with Rajapaksa to collect the major share of the anti-UNP vote. So did the JVP that stood against both parties in this Unity Government.
Thus the total vote polled by President Sirisena (13.4%) and the JVP (6.3%) was an anti-UNP vote when added to the anti-UNP 44.7 percent Rajapaksa mustered tells the UNP, a massive 64.4 is of the people had voted against them and by default, against this Sirisena-Wickremesinghe Government.
If that massive anti-UNP vote did not create a social mood that drove these Yahapalana leaders into conflict and crisis, if that social mood cemented by this LG elections was not anti-Government and threatening the political leadership in Government, there was no reason for all the dragging revolts and infighting within the SLFP and the UNP over, who should be the next PM and who should run the Government.
That social mood which now threatens this Yahapalana Government cannot be covered by a Rajapaksa bogey however big it is blown.
The writing of this coming political Tsunami was glaring big on the wall and I wrote thus in my blog two days before elections.
“With Rajapaksa assumed to have another comeback, President Sirisena will have a harder time ahead than his ‘advisors’ had calculated.”
“The ITAK leadership in TNA will, therefore, find themselves in troubled and deep in hot waters without any acceptable excuse for piggybacking the UNP for two long and unproductive years.”
“In brief, the Unity Government after the LG elections will be left as fragile as no other coalition Government had ever been in mid-term before. Election campaigning by President Sirisena had already laid the ground for the political crises ahead despite how the people would vote on Saturday. What the EC would read out as official results will only add salt to the bitter pickle on the boil.”
What else does this catastrophic situation expose and prove? What is exposed and proved is more serious than the Rajapaksa bogey.
In fact, space for a Rajapaksa comeback is also due to this major reason that proves we don’t have any democracy the Colombo pundits want to save from Rajapaksa.
If a society is democratic, political parties in that society are also democratic. Here it is not as these major crises expose and prove. In functional democracies, these crises are not restricted to dinner parties and ‘closed door’ scheming.
All this week after LG elections, breaking news provided was about different groups meeting at Pageat Street and Temple Trees proved none of these political parties are democratic and none have an active membership.
In democratic political parties with an active membership these issues are not discussed at dinner parties. They are discussed at Special Conventions of political party members.
It is members who gather in special conventions to decide their next leader. Decide the future political line of the party. That was how the Lanka Samasamaja Party (LSSP) decided their coalition with the SLFP in 1964 June.
The whole party discussed three different Political Resolutions at local party branches and elected their delegates for the special party conference.
At the special delegates’ conference, it was the political resolution campaigned for by Dr. N. M. Perera led group that won and allowed the LSSP to join the SLFP Government with ministries. That LSSP is long dead and no more.
Can any of the mainstream political parties hold anything that can be called a party conference of members to decide who their leader should be and what they should stand for on any national issue?
None of the political parties here in Sri Lanka are democratic.
Political parties today don’t have an actual membership either.
Here in Sri Lanka political decisions under party labels are taken by the leader with his own carefully selected group of henchmen amidst scheming and manipulations.
Most henchmen are either from the ‘Filthy Rich’ or directly in business with them.
All political parties run with big money pumped at various times by wheeler-dealers.
Therefore decisions taken in the name of the people with promises for democratic reforms, never get translated into action.
If pressured to implement, the farthest we would go is to have them written and lie dormant in Statute books.
Bottom line is that these political leaders have no membership and no organised democratic party.
They therefore don’t decide for the benefit of the people and are not responsible for the people who elect them. People are there to endorse decisions taken by these political power groups and give them legitimacy. Same is happening now and nothing else. This Parliament and these political parties have no other purpose as well.
The crisis at hand is therefore not only about who would run the next Government but about the necessity to workout democratic alternatives for people.