Jean Paul Satre stated, “Politics is a science. You can demonstrate that you are right and others are wrong.”
Brain power and cunningness exhibited by UNP leadership in capturing power or remaining in power, when compared to their counterparts in the other main parties, is far superior. They are clever in manipulating and scheming. They have also enjoyed the privilege of being businessmen financiers who would volunteer to meet any financial gratifications that need to be paid to potential political converts in the process. They have been well-known for effectively scheming to defeat an existing regime. The best examples are the 1964 toppling of Sirimavo’s Government which attempted to muzzle the press in taking over the Lake House, by soliciting the help of her number two, CP de Silva; then, Daughter Chandrika’s in 2001, where they used four of her senior ministers and lastly the Rajapaksa family regime in 2015 with the help of SLFP General Secretary and a few other stalwarts.
Political acumen is vital in running a country under democratic set-up. The skill and shrewdness are extremely important attributes, which, unfortunately, the SLFPers, with the exception of Rajapaksas, badly lacked
Leaders like D.S, J.R, Premadasa and Ranil could be ranked as the top shining models that fit the above description that post-independent Sri Lanka had produced. Considering the inter-party cross-over scenarios, it is always the UNP, that was the winner, while the SLFP led coalitions became the loser. It is surprising that it never happened the other way around, meaning a conspiracy by the SLFP on UNP. Also, something common to all local political parties is the competitive cutthroat acts within the same party. Political acumen is vital in running a country under democratic set-up. The skill and shrewdness are extremely important attributes, which, unfortunately, the SLFPers, with the exception of Rajapaksas, badly lacked. Jean Paul Satre said so; a reader comments in this newspaper a couple of days before, responding to Ranil loyalist Ajith Perera- “Hi Tomy The entire outfit is a joke..STEP DOWN !!”
If they defeat the NCM today; the Ranil faction will consolidate their position within the party. Reforms will never see the light of the day. Rajapaksas can celebrate a ‘victory’ after losing their motion. If the NCM gets the required number of votes, over 113 (presence of a full house is anticipated) the President would act ‘graciously’ by appointing a senior UNPer as PM, and not an SLFP man and close the chapter without upsetting the apple cart, but causing a major split in the UNP, on the lines of Ranil (R-L) loyalists versus the rest; adding more woes to the Yahapalana Government. Here again in reality, the Rajapaksas will claim a victory.
‘Keselwatta-Kurunduwatta’ Power Struggle.
Israel and the US were not happy about President Premadasa’s decision to close units of Israel’s Interests in the US embassy in Sri Lanka. He antagonized the British Foreign office by naming their envoy here as persona non-grata and ordered the expulsion of High Commissioner David Gladstone over a trivial matter. Lalith Athulathmudali, the senior UNPer who served as National Security Minister in President Jayawardene’s Cabinet had spoken of fear for his life at the hands of goon squads formed to terrorise Premadasa’s opponents. Vigilante squads drawn from the JSS, that the UNP’s trade union had been organising in Government Corporations. These squads functioned as para-military units and did not hesitate to act violently to achieve their ends.
On 24th September 1991 the Parliament met to discuss the impeachment motion against President Premadasa. His attempt to address the house was met with continued booing and shouting by the opposition
J.R, who was toying with the idea of another amendment to make way for a third term in 1988, listened to intelligence at a time the whole country was in turmoil—LTTE in North and JVP in South were creating mayhem. He gave up the idea. Between R Premadasa, Gamini Dissanayake and Lalith Athulathmudali, the three contenders, following a secret vote, decided to field Premadasa. Lalith backed Premadasa to the hilt at 1988 Presidential stakes, while Gamini had other ideas; an opportunity to dump both Premadasa and Athulathmudali as the JVP hanumans was setting the nation in flames. ‘Jansaviya’ aided by Sirimavo’s last moment pact with Kumar Ponnambalam brought an unexpected victory to Premadasa.
Let down by the suspicious boss when he appointed weak D.B Wijetunge as PM, Athulathmudali revived his relations with Gamini who was left out of the cabinet at the reshuffle in 1991. Few other anti Premadasa seniors joined the conspiracy to oust the boss in an impeachment. On 24th September 1991 the Parliament met to discuss the impeachment motion against President Premadasa. His attempt to address the house was met with continued booing and shouting by the opposition, and the sittings had to be adjourned.
Let down by the suspicious boss when he appointed weak D.B Wijetunge as PM, Athulathmudali revived his relations with Gamini
Premaratne Gunasekera, a fairly senior member of the party was not in the good books of Premadasa, and had to remain a back-bencher once said, ‘ this man should be sent home, so I signed the impeachment. A famous “Mudalali’ (from timber to healthcare) offered me a ‘packet of notes’ and appealed for withdrawal of the signature’. Speaker MH Mohomed who secretly backed the ‘GAGers’ (Gamini-Athulathmudali-Gang: name coined by the then state print media) made a 180 degrees turn and announced that the required number of signatures is not there. The rest is history; and they say‘history repeats itself’.
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