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A tale of two leaders going their separate ways Will Sajith fall prey to Ranil’s predatory ways?

11 Sep 2019 - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}      

The much talked about presidential polls and the need for a change in regime were felt profoundly when the government made another election blunder; not checking on the price increase of Prima wheat flour which has been raised by rupees 5.50 a kilo. 

However much health experts harp on the fact that citizens should increase the consumption of grain based food and cut down on the intake of flour based products, this nation is conveniently accustomed to having bread for at least one meal during the day. The demand for bread being supplied and one rarely finding unsold fresh bread loaves on grocery shelves at the end of the day confirms this. Any political analyst would say that taking steps to tighten the spending habits of the public would adversely affect an election campaign. 

This is where the Ranil Wickremesinghe regime fails miserably. The Green party led government doesn’t care much about the downtrodden masses. Another aspect where the Wickremesinghe regime has failed to score is related to Buddhist activities. The recent decision taken by the Executive Committee of the Keleniya Temple to remove the premier from the post of Chairman of the Dayaka Saba (Working Committee of a temple) has delt a huge blow to the UNP. Wickremesinghe, who was appointed to this post after the then chairman of the committee Upali Wijewardene went missing while flying in a plane, has not been performing in his role; according to members of the committee as reported in weekend Sinhala newspapers. 

  • Ranil is the best at playing his cards right when his back is to the wall
  • Mahinda has seen a ‘politically weak’ opponent in Sajith
  • UNP is benefiting from the rallies conducted by Sajith

From the time of the kings, the country’s rulers have had it tough when ever they opposed the views of the clergy or distanced themselves from the temples. Wickremesinghe however states that he was anyhow going to resign from the post due to his hectic work schedule in politics. Recently we heard about an elephant going on the rampage at the annual pageant organised by the Kotte Rajamaha Viharaya. These are inauspicious signs and according to soothsayers such accidents happen at a time when the country is ruled by unscrupulous politicians. 

If people are reluctant to accept what soothsayers and astrologers say about the damage such politicians can do, they only have to listen to economic experts who’ll confirm that the lawmakers of this government have robbed this country and plundered its financial resources. 

Wickremesinghe’s ‘opponent’ at the much looked forward to presidential elections, Sajith Premadasa, continues to work closely with all religious institutes. He has made it a point to allocate finances from his ministry to renovate or upgrade places of religious worship in the country. And all these efforts would hold in good stead for Sajith who is aggressively promoting himself to be the election candidate from the United National Party (UNP). 

These are interesting days in politics where the ‘Green Party’ loyalists are eagerly awaiting the call to be made by the UNP to name its elections candidate. 

Recently, Wickremsinghe loyalists had met to discuss future election plans. Wickremesinghe had expressed his intentions of being the party’s election candidate and had asked the gathering whether they would support him if he got the nod from the Executive Committee and the Parliamentary Group of the UNP. But the majority who attended the meeting had made no commitment in giving their blessings to Wickremesinghe. 

Meanwhile the UNP is benefiting from the rallies conducted by Sajith. It’s essential that the UNP has such rallies often because the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) is scoring heavily whenever the Rajapaksas address people at gatherings. The UNP is already behind on the elections campaign because of the delay in naming a presidential candidate. In this context what Sajith is doing is the wise thing despite the party’s Deputy Leader running the risk of being subject to a disciplinary inquiry for taking arbitrary decisions to hold rallies without the party leader’s consent. His first two rallies in Badulla and Matara were successful. But it must be noted that many UNP district organisers were missing or boycotted the rally held in Kurunegala. Missing at the last rally in Kurunegala were prominent party figures in the likes of Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, Gamini Jayawickrema Perera, Harin Fernando, Mangala Samaraweera, Buddhika Pathirana, Malik Samarawickreme, Kabir Hashim, the Mayor of Kuliyapitiya Lakshman Adhikari and the artiste turned poltician Rookantha Goontilake. The rally was the third in a series titled ‘Sajith is coming’. 

Sajith has his bunch of loyalists and has one goal in mind; to be the head of state of this nation. He should slowly analyze and see who is backing him. Does he see people belonging to all segments of the society and those of other religions backing him? Political experts opine that Wickremesinghe has a better following when one considers the wider spectrum of society he represents. Sajith’s focus has been housing and rural areas where as Wickremesinghe has scored some brownie points in terms of focusing on business and the economy and roping in other countries for trade. 

As much as Sajith finds encouragement from those who back him he must be aware of those who are in the opposite camp of his. Apart from Wickremesinghe and Gotabaya Rajapaksa he has to take note of what Mahinda Rajapaksa does behind the scenes. The former President has said that he is eagerly awaiting to see whether Sajith would surrender himself to Wickremesinghe or pursue with his dream of being a presidential candidate. 

Political analysts opine that Mahinda Rajapaksa has seen a ‘politically weak’ opponent in Sajith and prefers him to be the UNP candidate instead of Wickremesinghe. 

The battle between Sajith and Wickremesinghe is nowhere in sight of a solution. In this context there was a recent Face Book post which sums up the tussle between the two quite beautifully. The sentences keyed one below the other read: Sajith came to Badulla, Sajith came to Matara, Sajith came to Kurunegala and Ranil came for the Presidential Elections! 

Wickremesinghe is the best at playing his cards right when his back is to the wall. His mind works under pressure and he is a political animal who has the potential to tie Sajith in knots. Wickremesinghe’s silence in the face of Sajith breaching party discipline is perhaps part of a plan in a waiting game in which the seasoned Wickremesinghe is still a key player. Sajith may have already travelled too far in his ambitious journey in politics and reached a position where he has to move out of the party. And if Sajith starts sinking we might hear Wickremesinghe whisper to his deputy leader and say “Hey friend, enjoy the sinking’.