With the campaign for the Uva Provincial Council elections getting more abusive verbally, legally and morally, the vital question that most independent analysts ask again is whether the elections will be free and fair or more like a greasy poll manipulated by a double-distilled dictatorial administration.
The ruling UPFA Government often boasts it has been staging more elections than any other administration. True and false. Instead of holding Provincial Council elections all at the same time, the ruling coalition has been doing it on a staggered basis. Opposition leaders and independent political analysts say this gives the UPFA the opportunity to misuse and abuse the State’s financial material and human resources for the ruling alliance’s own gain or glory. We see this happening brazenly and extensively in the Uva Provincial Council elections just like we saw in other elections. This time not only the Elections Commission but the Human Rights Commission has also promised to take action against public servants who are getting openly involved in the elections campaign. But promises these days are only cheap commodities. The widespread abuse of public funds includes the launching of major development projects in the province. Whatever Government leaders say, the launching of these projects is not a coincidence but obviously timed to win more votes. The village people are wise, much wiser than the city elite and policy makers think they are. But full-scale propaganda by the State media, with presidential “Meet the people” programmes broadcast live before the polls, help to persuade many people who do not know the story behind the story or the facts behind the fiction.
Political leaders and candidates for the Uva polls often portray themselves as servant leaders who wish to be good stewards and serve the people selflessly and sacrificially. They also give all sorts of promises and pledges, most of which are discarded before the ballots are counted. Sri Lanka needs politicians who without bragging, lying and pretending to be good stewards, would sincerely ask themselves, “Who do the people say I am?” If the answer in the conscience is negative, the politicians should correct themselves and sincerely act according to their vision and goals. If they cannot or are not willing to do so, they should find another job instead of ending up in the garbage dumps of history after taking the country and the people for a costly ride.
But who has the inner power to let go of the desire for personal gain or glory, political power, prestige and popularity? Most politicians know these are transient or impermanent. But yet often stay on this self-destructive course.
The ‘Bauddhaya’ television channel last Sunday re-telecast an interview with the late Ven. Ananda Maithriya Thera, a scholar prelate who is revered by millions of people. Besides sincerely and silently practising the spirit of the Buddha Dhamma, he also practised the time-tested alpechchatwaya - a simple and humble lifestyle. At the age of 94, the prelate was invited to Britain. He told the invitees in Britain he did not need any warm clothing because his body was able to go through the coldest or hottest weather. When in Britain the group took the prelate to a medical specialist who examined him, took various tests and asked the prelate what his age was. When the prelate said 94, the medical specialist said he could not believe it because the prelate’s body and internal organs were like those of a 25-year-old person. The prelate also said that decades of right thinking and right living, meditation and contemplation had given him such deep inner peace that he could not remember any event where he became angry. What a treasure. Where the treasure is, there the heart will be.
Our political leaders and others, even some religious leaders, would not only be helping others but also healing themselves if they take a decision to live and work in the way that this noble prelate did.