Sri Lanka’s voters have in the past ended up with leaders whom they don’t eventually want. This is because the majority of the people don’t really know what they want in life. In the past the public, who made up the majority, were from the down-trodden masses and they were the ones who had the power to elect a president.
The voters who belonged to this section were mostly wrenched in poverty. Their basic intention was to find some means to survive the 30 days in a month. Hence the politicians moved closely with them, but did little to pull them out of poverty.
But the voting structure has changed over the years, largely because the third generation is now more educated and some have moved up the social ladder. The firebrand monk Ven Gnanasara who received a pardon has also stepped into this political melee of late.
Just months away from the much looked forward to presidential elections, Ven. Gnanasara also seems to have some following.
So the priest’s political ideology is one option available. But they must be aware that this priest has been uttering that democracy has not worked for Sri Lanka and it must be controlled. This is a serious statement given the muli-religious and multi-ethnic configuration of the country.
The names of those floated for the presidency are slowly increasing, but only a few stand out. Gotabaya Rajapaksa is one and his position on issues is widely known.
Another person who was mentioned some time ago is business tycoon Dhammika Perera who closely reads the situation. We need to take a close look at some of the views expressed by others, especially professionals, who wish to change the entire political set-up.
One such organisation is the National People’s Movement (NPM) which comprises several professionals and civic organisations. Its mission is to co-create a new national platform to transfer the present political platform into a vibrant, democratic, participatory and accountable system of governance. This movement differs from Ven. Gnanasara Thera’s movement because the former allows for the accommodating of ideas of professionals from all walks of life.
Two key persons associated with the NPM are former Auditor General Gamini Wijesinghe and intelligence analyst Ajith Rohana Colonne. The NPM could become a third force, after the UNP and Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna. Questions are raised whether the NPM would obtain the views of the clergy?
The movement has made a prediction that the future president of this country would be a person who has no political connections.
The United National Party can still be a dark horse in the race for presidency because of the support it can garner from the minorities and the liberal intelligentsia. The recent bomb blasts have made Muslims endure hardships. The UNP also can bank of the Tamil minority vote.
However, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who has impressive plans on paper has run into criticism when implementing them. In spite of many obstacles, the current government under Prime Minister Wickremesinghe has achieved much in democratic governance and space for tolerance.
Critics say that very soon Sri Lanka would be buried under mounting debts. The facts that Wickremesinghe survived the no-confidence motion against him and bounced back to get himself reinstated after being sacked as premier underscore his credentials to survive.
Given the present hopeless situation and that most politicians are complaining of being in ‘sinking ships’, it is up to the general public who are the voters to ensure that a wise decision is made to take the country out of this mess.