If Mahinda Rajapaksa (left) refreshes himself with the act of generating thoughts about the country and its people Ranil Wickremesinghe finds the energy to continue in politics through his intellect (Pic AFP)
- The renegades not only lost the case, but were also subject to pay a fee to the Green Party
- The Rajapaksas have often shown that they are above the law
We like Mahinda Rajapaksa for many reasons. The veteran politician can turn the tide when the chips are down. He can make fools dance to his tune and educated men listen to him.
This upcoming election is vital for him because this is the second time he is contesting a poll after losing ‘power’ at the Presidential Elections in 2015.
He could be one politician who has the knack to keep voters with him even after losing an election. He proved this on February 18, 2015 by drawing a massive gathering in Nugegoda titled ‘Mahinda Sulanga’. The catchphrase was at the rally was ‘Those who voted for me must come to Nugegoda’.
Three individuals backed Mahinda’s return to politics. They, according to Mahinda, are Dinesh Gunawardene, Vasudeva Nanayakkara and the vociferous Wimal Weerawansa. Whether the three invited the ‘veteran’ to return to politics or not, this Mahinda was anyway going to make a comeback to parliament. The reasons; the long line of family members in politics and largely because of his own son Namal who he’d one day wish to see become the first citizen of the country.
Namal can wait. But till then Mahinda has to promote his catchers. One such individual is Weerawansa. But just a few days ago something interesting happened in Mahiyangana. When Mahinda was promoting the candidatures of Thenuka Vidanagama and Nimal Siripala de Silva the response from the crowd to one of the names was ‘no no we don’t want him’. The former president of the country angrily responded to the crowd with a call to discipline themselves. He also said that voters have the power to vote for or reject a candidate.
However popular Mahinda is and despite him being a father figure in politics this is a time when people will stand up and put a candidate down if his or her track record is bad. This rule applies even if the candidate is ‘Mahinda’s man’.
Even now despite much of the good work done by the caretaker government, headed by his brother Gotabaya, people have questions about how the law of the country is being applied. Just the other day we heard that the ancient conference hall used by King Buwanekabahu of Kurunegala was demolished. We also heard that a bigwig of the Pohottuwa Party had vowed that the Mayor alleged to be behind the demolition work of his ancient building would be protected at all cost. Even in the past Rajapaksa regimes had little regard for the law. We also remember how the authorities in power exerted pressure on the case where a politician from Thangalla was charged for raping a Russian lady and the murder of her boyfriend in 2011. Mahinda was president then.
Politics can stoop down to such low levels. The Rajapaksas have often shown that they are above the law and would not hesitate to amend laws to clear obstacles in their paths. When laws don’t favour them they’ll make theories and form opinions to make wrong look right. In a recent Sinhala weekend newspaper interview the founder of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) Basil Rajapaksa when asked why the Phottuwa Party doesn’t put a stop to candidates with a history of dredging sand in rivers and those involved in ethanol trade, Basil’s response was, “ You need to dredge sand to build houses and roads. People consume ethanol. The largest quantum of ethanol is produced by state owned institutions in Sevanagala and Palwatte”. And these words come from a lawmaker who the other day told Gampaha District Parliamentarian Prasanna Ranatunga (Reported in July 26 Mawbima) that the latter should keep a tab of the affects on the environment when giving clearance to open factories in the Gampaha District. All this suggests that the Rajapaksas don’t like to be told.
Mahinda has often spoken about efforts being made by the family’s detractors to eliminate them from politics. But Mahinda has done the opposite with his staunchest rival Ranil Wickremesinghe. Mahinda is said to have come to the rescue of the UNP Leader many times.
Political analysts have opined that the face of Sri Lankan politics would have been much worse if a person of the calibre of Wickremesinghe wasn’t in politics in the present times. Wickremesinghe has in a way retained some decency in the political set-up and put limits to the aggressive behaviour of some of the politicians within his own party. If not for Wickremesinghe the Rajapaksas would have run riot in politics. Just for the record 100 UNPers, who supported the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) , sought legal assistance for being eliminated from the Green Party. The final result was a great victory for the UNP because the renegades not only lost the case, but were also subject to pay a fee to the Green Party. This sort of discipline is maintained by Wickremesinghe and he would not hesitate to control uprisings using the law, his wittiness and sometimes a clenched fist; even if it is shaking at the ripe old age of 71. Wickremesinghe finds the energy to continue in politics through his intellect.
Now back to Mahinda. This man has the energy to attend not less than 10 rallies a day at present without complaining about being tired. It was mentioned in a newspaper column that Mahinda attributes the love for his country as his secret to still going strong. “When the country and its people come to my mind it helps me to refresh myself”, the former President is quoted saying in the column.
Despite the skills, charisma and wealth of experience he carries there seems to be one flaw in this man; he remains the old Mahinda. He promotes the same old faces much of the time. Mahinda has predicted that Wimal Weerawansa would poll the highest number of votes from Colombo and enter parliament. Isn’t there anyone else for Mahinda to promote other than Weerawansa; whose vociferous speeches are often loaded with harsh words and echoed in an intimidating tone? He promotes so many others who have grown old in politics with nothing much to show for the years invested in the profession of lawmaking.
Mahinda must update himself by reading on Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Darwin’s theory of evolution from the book ‘THE ORIGIN SPECIES’ suggests that animals who can’t adapt to the changes in the environment will perish. The same theory now applies to our own political set-up. Mahinda’s aggressive subordinates in politics must be told that ‘violence’ and ‘thuggery’ have no place in present politics. Election related deaths are nonexistent compared to the past. The Election Commission is independent and can’t be intimidated. The practice of lawmakers convincing people to accept a wrong as right doesn’t exist.
In an environment like this even Mahinda has to change. And much of the successes in election battles are now decided on brain and not brawn, thanks to digital technology. If an analysis is made on the election on these aspects Mahinda would observe that he doesn’t have an edge over Wickremesinghe.