By Gomin Dayasri
Are we living in the Wonderland of Alice or in a sorry State called Alas? Government blunders with self-inflicted gaffes and goofs to display its mounting incompetence - UNP reciprocates by keeing the government buoyant in promoting serially unpopular causes to alienate and annoy voters. We sure lead a life between phonies.
Both would dread should the other change character – fear for their own self-preservation. Possibly in this queer impasse the odd man out in the pack of jokers is Mahinda Rajapaksa (MR), faing fast with his style of lukewarm governance disturbing urbanites but held high on expectation among the rural majority. If MR is out of the equation, the country will be without a semblance of a leadership. Not that there is much still left intact.
Government obtained an overdose of goodwill, after the war, extracting adoration from outside its traditional realm, making incisive penetrations in pinching votes from a territory deep in its opponent’s heartland, is now in a pickle. That was a prize for successfully accomplishing a virtual impossibility- comprehensively eradicating terrorism from the local soil.
Deservingly it enjoyed the longest political honeymoon in living memory – but the mismanagement of the economy has created a reverse reaction. Taking on the people too long for granted for their gratitude, without any reciprocity, made a valued humane characteristic disappear by an over stretch. Government thrives on its wartime exploits and loses on its performance in the post war period.
It’s all happening under the big top with the governing circus running berserk; acrobats keep slipping more than juggling, trapeze artists totter on the tight rope with a safety net designed to save them from a free fall, stunt lads and lasses clout each other, clowns are in excess and the audience is thrown to the lions.
The government looks after more, the support that flowed from outside its home base than the talent emerging from its own perennial springs. They carry an Alsatian-like loyalty because for survival they pay homage and rely on the patronage of the Master in the absence of any other almighty. Johnnies –come - lately are deemed safe to have around since they live in chained captivity with no other destination to plant their roaming feet. A regime change is a likely inside job.
For survival, servility extends to the point of sycophancy. Those who are not prepared to demean are not a part of the performing travelling troupe. Those who do, as they are told to do: are in the good books, however bizarre it turns out, with hardly any monitoring over their performance due to lack of supervision arising out of lethargy, often nd in a fiasco. Price hikes of the essentials ring alarm bells but soon is in the valley of the forgotten - conveniently swept away as an issue that is purely urban. But not so, to those who visit the market, in whatever locality, to face the ordeal.
The government has become insensitive to the values, opinions and expectations of the people after enjoying power for over 18 years. The consequential benefits that flow on peddling power, exploited to the maximum, uncaringly and shamefully on the rightful belief that the opposition cannot win an election, numb their conscience. The state of bliss will continue until the exercise of the secret ballot shows an unexpected verdict due to disgust.
Choreographically sequenced election process without a credible alternative party, compels voters to mark a cross in the absence of an acceptable option. Results of the first round of elections become a trendsetter for subsequent elections- winner takes all comfortably, thereafter. Once the people endorse, any muck becomes squeaky clean. A woeful Opposition in this repeatedly orchestrated process, allowed the government to expand its majorities and make the voters sacrificial lambs for their own head chop. The comeback route for the
Opposition is to shrink majorities significantly. This can ignite a process to cause an avalanche. An unlikely event with a dumb opposition.
UNP has chosen a hazardous route by aligning itself with TNA to ebb and flow from the floating uncommitted and the decent disenchanted while inviting internal friction within the UNP that could lead to another exodus. Post-war census statistically display that Tamil voters have numerically decreased in the North seeking fresh pastures in Sri Lanka and abroad.
TNA-UNP tie up may increase UNP majorities in the five Colombo electorates but TNA’s proximity to the terrorists and diaspora together with its hidden agenda for secession will cause a telling impact on the majority Sinhala districts that declare the eventual winner. Another decision Ranil Wickremasinghe will learn to rue as much as nominating General Fonseka.The projected provincial council elections in the North Central and Sabaragamuwa held together is to sting the UNP; East is opened to prevent TNA expansionism.
Eastern province may turn out to be a bonanza for the UNP. Southern provincial election result once delivered in favor of Chandrika Kumaratunga on a fatal miscalculation made by D.B. Wijetunga in holding elections prematurely, triggered a change of government.
After 18 years out of office and a stumbling government in office, UNP should have been positioned to win any election in any province; instead continues to lose in a manner worse than previously. The change the UNP wistfully awaits is unlikely to materialize until the party changes its own image.