The sun is slated to pass from House of Pisces to the House of Aries in the celestial sphere in a few days’ time heralding another Sinhala and Hindu New Year. By the time of this year’s New Year, the sun certainly seems to be shining on Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, having defeated the No-Faith Motion against him despite all the initial hiccups. His victory, it appeared, brought some semblance of sanity and stability after two months of uncertainty that rocked the country since February 10th Local Government polls.
However, not everything in the UNP will be honky-dory till the leadership delivers the promised reforms. The chaos that reigned in the party in the run-up to the no-confidence vote spoke of nothing else but the urgent need for party reforms.
The call was for better party democracy and an opportunity for the youth. The first Litmus Test for the degree of commitment by the UNP leadership in delivering these would be his choice of party General Secretary.
Among the slew of names proposed for the vacancy are the so-called inner-circle members of the party leader. It would be only prudent that Prime Minister Wickremesinghe picks someone who is politically seasoned and unanimously accepted, both by the seniors and the backbenchers, for this post avoiding any
Such a gesture would raise hope among party members that a genuine move is underway to put the party on a progressive track after all previous setbacks.
Bringing in authentic reforms after a convincing victory at the No-Confidence Motion vote certainly would garner greater glory for the party leader since he would be introducing the reforms from a point of strength than the weakness.
As John Kennedy declared in his annual address to the Congress in 1962 ‘The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining’ and the leaky roof of the UNP is certainly in need of good repair.
While the NCM stabilised Ranil Wickremesinghe as UNP leader the other fallouts of the vote have created chaos in the country thus fulfilling the aspirations of the movers of the motion, the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP). The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) which sharply divided over the NCM boycotted Cabinet and finally decided to quit the Government ending the UNP-SLFP Yahapalana marriage.
The bulk of the SLFP members have moved to side with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s SLPP, weakening the clout of incumbent President
The April 4th vote also opened new fissures within Parliament’s “official” main Opposition, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA). The TNA’s decision to back the Prime Minister came at a time the Tamil electorate was showing impatience over the Government’s delay in bringing in Constitutional reforms.
Notwithstanding the role the international players have played in the TNA decision to back the premier the TNA support to Wickremesinghe is likely to have estranged an active section of the Tamils especially among the diaspora. It would be near impossible for the UNP leader to deliver the demands of the TNA at a time the nation is riding on a strong Sinhala nationalist wave.
After all, there are less than two years for the next Presidential Election and the UNP leader is unlikely to antagonise the Sinhalese to be in the good books of the Tamil community this time.
The Muslim parties and MPs who played hard to get with the Prime Minister over Ampara and Teldeniya riots fell in line at the last minute despite the growing hostility by the Muslim community towards the Government.
With their decision to side with the Prime Minister, the Muslim parties and Parliamentarians are now under obligation to the community to make sure that a repeat of the incidents would not take place under the UNP-led Government.
The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), which continues with its winning mood even after its defeat at the NCM against the Prime Minister, is displaying all signs that it is out to make the Government bleed.
This means more chaos in the country with ordinary citizens, instead of politicians, being ultimate victims. The best way to void more political disasters would be to strengthen the UNP with the expected reforms. Time certainly is up for the UNP leader to repair the party roof, which has been leaking for too long.