I didn’t waste Mahinda Rajapaksa’s time by seeking appointments when he was the President! But when he lost, I sought a meeting and was promptly told to come early next morning to a Colombo address. Probably he carried no diary being without an official secretary.
We sat in a private room sandwiched between cardboard boxes crammed with used goods waiting for a transfer to Tangalle and talked of current events; time was not an issue. He laughingly complained that the people of Colombo are scared to meet him. When he tried to reach an associate on the phone a voice said he was out on his morning tramp. MR tried vainly to persuade him to come in his shorts without success.
That was not long ago. No longer is MR short of visitors. It can happen again if he looses badly at the parliamentary elections. Meanwhile fifty-six parliamentarians motored southwards to greet him in the New Year.
If so, MR is back in the picture and that picture will become brighter on May Day as more will pluck courage to mount his platform in a ‘do or die’ effort to fall into his good grace knowing that others are already committed,displaying fidelity in an early-bird operation.My concern is that MR is being bracketed with names some of which are closer to pulp in daily parlance. Will it make young impressionable voters think twice before casting a vote in his favour?
The over -65 UFPA club of should not be unleashed to catch the votes of teenagers and young people of the under 40 twittering society. MR is an old boy but stands out having won the war and ushering in peace. the war: peace undid him.
The 2010 Administration ran berserk relying incorrectly that the gratitude of winning the war was an unbounded bounty that granted an open licence to run amok. MR suffered the consequences of those wild bouts; and his successor’s performance has rebounded making it hard for him to make a comeback if he walks on the wrong path. Now is the turn of his merry men and maids Marian to walk the plank with elections round the corner. Presenting the wild men publicly as candidates can drive voters up the devil’s staircase –a gamble unwise: voters treat MPs’ differently and MR deferentially. If he puts to test another 5 years of continuing nonsense of the many sitting parliamentarians at public expense, he will lose.
"The 2010 Administration ran berserk relying incorrectly that the gratitude of winning the war was an unbounded bounty that granted an open licence to run amok. MR suffered the consequences of those wild bouts"
MR holds a trump. Ridicule is hurled at the antics of the new rulers. Much was expected – more is wanted.They picked his unjust men for their cabinet appointments to enter a ridiculous realm. To thrive on their weaknesses, MR needs to usher a new era - for which fresh young faces are wanted. Old timers for all times should be dumped as waste far away from the national list. Few of them are hoping to re-launch as recycled rubbish. After a period of long silence they are becoming a bunch of cuddly bears to MR again. He may fondle them but will the voters take kindly to that? The last time, fondling toddlers at meetings did not translate into votes.
Repetition of the same list of candidates gives a more deranged appearance and is likely to pick lesser votes. When a new image is needed why carry old clothes for a wash to the same dhobi! Try a laundry. MR should be looking at unrelated youth of true Blue Party stock from the provinces to create an ascending generation of which he becomes the great old grandfather. His image still is more recognised than a party icon. This party has too many family shrubs in its undergrowth. It needs a weedicide to kill it. Spray it before the jungle tide takes over.
In the South, MR is billed as the heavyweight that won the war. Pitted against it is a government that has done little to exhibit the promised ideals in its first hundred days. It has failed to retain the support it received from the floating vote that previously overwhelmingly went to MR.
"Imposters wearing different jerseys who stand for the country intelligently are preferable to liberal time-servers who are in and out of the government and the opposition.Such people are acceptable in the queer world of MR - a junk collector. "
No UNP voters with their party candidates on offer, will care to vote for a discredited politician from the UPFA. Sirisena picked the vote on the urgings of the forces to oust MR as a compulsive alternate. The same forces will now target UPFA MPs more ferociously. A ride to Parliament for the present UPFA MPs can be rough on any list,unless they hitch a ride on MR’s bandwagon hoping people will vote for them to enable MR to be restored. But, don’t take it for granted: voters may not be agreeable.
Reading the online edition of the Daily Mirror in a faraway land,the names of some of the parliamentarians who travelled to his southern home,made me tap this piece out on a pocket laptop. I recalled that most of them had travelled a shorter distance previously to greet Sirisena on becoming President and to laud it as a historical triumph. It was amusing to see the jesters sing for any chief for their measly broth. Some of those names sure scare me too. The last election showed voters are a discerning bunch not to be treated lightly but handled craftily.And the young think twice before they vote.
This is not an election of one man which MR last lost by trading on his name. Candidates representing MR in districts, where the floating vote floated away, especially in urban constituencies, need special attention to draw that vote. Marking of a cross though not mandatory before a name of an unwanted candidate is indeed repelling. Instead, voting for the party is an answer; but it is likely a disreputable candidate will make it on votes polled for a party or buy seats allegedly sold at the counting tables by corrupt officials.Those who made the most amount of money can return on that money to make more money. That is not music in the ear of the voters called to mark another ballot paper in the same year. Those supremely loyal to MR will do as told and vote; but that number has to expand beyond the 56% polled last time. MR needs to personally touch base with those that voted against the dirty dozens that made his administration foul.
MR does hold a vantage, as votes in the North and East cannot be aggregated with the UNP as it did for Sirisena at the presidential election, as the count is based district wise. Northern voters that tilted the last election stand alone with the TNA with whom an alliance is unlikely in the making with the UNP. Yet the votes of the SLMC or CWC will not fall into the pocket of the MR on the basis of the last result.The last hurrah is for MR. This time he is not defending a government but attacking it; at which he peaks.But are the sleuths closing on his skeletons.Their onward march stops at the Attorney General department –the pit of no return due to excessive weak knees, whoever is in power.
He has hardly a choice without sufficient time or political party or an organization to run a campaign. Yet he has more of people support than any other in the Opposition. He has to fall back on the old faithfuls of the party; notoriously unfaithful if greater attractions are on offer. Sadly, there is nothing to lure them elsewhere. Ranil Wickremasinghe [RW] is unlikely to allow them to surface in his lists, knowing the liability of using deadwood. RW desires UPFA to break into not two but three to isolate MR. He is the winner if a split is meaningful.
Sirisena has no options: for survival he has to dovetail the UNP.
MR will find this an election different to 2010 and 2015 as he is not in the control tower. Unless he appears to show sure signs of winning the media -both state and private - he will carry a campaign [against] the vilification of his family on allegations of plundering. If he does not possess able campaign managers with political savvy he can look lame. If he entrusts the campaign to the family, as he did the last time, he will come a cropper, as they will be targeted. More so, the UNP probably is armed with the ammunition so the responses will have to be constructive. Without a party is MR ready for action? His priority should be to pick dedicated professionals for specialised work during the campaign.
This is an election that will reveal the winner early in the campaign, as it will be a contest between MR, the individual, and the political parties supporting the Government.Therefore whoever wins will require a flying start.
The Prime Minister sullied his image than enhanced it after the Central Bank issue but by tactically compelling MR to carry dead weight at an early election, a situation that gives less time to MR to revamp and revise his list.MR unless geared early may lose options available. Does he have a team of able play makers able to deliver or is he on his own with his family as when he lost?That will decide the issue.
A general election is different to a presidential election. It is the southern vote the parties of the South need search. It is where MR comes out strongly, provided his team is properly selected. The presidential election is an all-island fixture where MR needed the northern votes that he discounted last time and lost the election. That vote will never flow to him after winning the war. J.R.Jayewardene knew its matrix well: he held a presidential election and won but dared not hold a general election. Instead he opted for a referendum; he knew the South was sensitive.
MR has a candidate with credentials in his brother Gotabhaya, a doer with a performance attractive to the newly emerging youth vote. Of course the famous four of the UPFA Colombo will resist the entry since he will eat into their traditional vote.On paper, MR has no stronger candidate in his line up than his brother to slot for the populace district of Kurunegala.
A strong bid is made on an outside track by recent 13th Amendment converts with pro-Indian connections formerly to wear the mask of nationalists to reap accolades that should accrue to such like personalities like Gunadasa Amarasekera and the late S.L.Gunasekera-true warriors without seasons against the Thirteenth.
In politics phonies succeed. Any fresh ‘impostor’ is better for MR than the old and known. Imposters wearing different jerseys at different times who stand for the country intelligently [ are preferable] to liberal time-servers that are in and out of the government and the opposition.Such people are acceptable in the queer world of MR - a junk collector.
But, he is the Opposition’s strongest contender running on an outside lane.