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In Sri Lanka political sins are washed away without detergent

4 June 2015 07:29 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


Voters expected too much, got too little and not much more is forthcoming  
  • Although MR has a Peronite following there is no Evita by his side
  • Ranil is at the mercy of a waning  Sirisena and an unreliable SLFP 

The UNP suffers from an inferiority complex of recent origin: a possible backlash after successive defeats that caused a mental trauma; now it’s on the mend.
The party needlessly feared to field a candidate at a presidential election, curiously at the point of peaking, forfeiting the moment of glory, as the northern/eastern vote floated into reckoning - unlike at a general election. Behind it all was a germ called ‘funkchitis’ more deadly than bronchitis.
Come lately, Sirisena, showed the way without a party or its machinery. 

At a general election the count stops at district level, with the aggregates not accessed to the national pool (except for the national list),while each vote is credited to a candidate at a presidential election. The UNP comes best at presidential elections but incorrigibly dodge them.

Ranil Wickremasinghe’s [RW] failure to show face at the presidential elections has its repercussions– now he is at the mercy of a waning Sirisena and an unreliable SLFP making his administration impotent.

 Who is to blame for developing cold feet? The collaborator, Sirisena, is fixing the calendar to suit his objective of disabling the UNP to travel the distance it desires. It’s a make-shift, ill-fit, time-set government in office.

Why doesn’t RW go for the maximum by quitting his position as PM and asking Sirisena to invite another to form a government and sit back and enjoy the unfolding drama? It cannot turn worse in the election year with the 19th Amendment in force. UNP holding office, without a majority, is a liability to itself. To be constitutionally proper, Sirisena should turn to the largest power bloc in the present Parliament of 2010 where he reigns as president with the SLFP numerically at its strongest as he should have done without calling upon the UNP to form a government. Probably Sirisena was morally obliged under a private arrangement to hand power over to the UNP in reciprocation to the UNP vote at the presidential election. Remember,the UPFA did not bring a no confidence motion to defeat the government on this count.

Surely Sirisena couldn’t afford to call a Mahindian from the SLFP stables to accept the reins? Instead he would  have to ask a SLFP loyalist tailored to his fancy to take the lead. This would automatically lead to much in-fighting among the old timers desiring to fall into the pages of history even as a lame prime minister of a few nights before bowing out or getting booted out of Parliament.

The UNP is easier to dismantle while IN power, rather than when it is OUT of power. Warts multiply to disfigure the image of worthiness in an administration untried and untested in the mindset of those voting for the first time. They voted expecting too much, got too little and not much more is forthcoming. Tweeting communities were unaware of the style of governance of the UNP, and now being more aware, the tweets aren’t sweet anymore. RW would have attracted more votes prior to rather than on becoming prime minister, as the UNP stands exposed in office. It was the phenomenon unknown that was attractive and on becoming known, has swiftly tarnished the varnish. Rajapaksa has not improved his image either with allegations galore. For the young, it is agonising, as they are left with no alternative or a future to look forward to.

Here is a government that looks to its competitor for its parliamentary strength. Blame its leadership for not entering the presidential fray and instead seeking the service of a messenger to go forth. Presently Sirisena too is in jeopardy trying to find his ‘Gods Little Acre’ to survive his term with dignity. Life surely would not be comfortable at the presidential palace if the chief occupant at Temple Trees was Mahinda Rajapaksa! There is no time to set up a mock court as J.R Jayewardene once did to disqualify his opposition of their civic rights for alleged wrong doings.

SLFP ministers in the UNP government, shift sides according to their reading of public perceptions.Accepting portfolios halts investigations into corruption charges during the period of their limousine lifestyles. Punsters in the share market might tell the outcome of the next election is in the balance. It does look a hung Parliament at first sight but within days a stable government will be configured. Next time around the share market will stabilise with a stable government in place irrespective of whether MR or RW wins. Parliamentarians will cross- over to accept ministerial office,to deliver a working majority after the next election, abandoning the parties their voters marked a cross in favour and to make voters watch a government that is disliked by the voters (whether formed by MR or RW) conjured by parliamentarians they voted for. Western embassies will hail it as a victory for democracy but voters will despair realising the futility of the vote they exercised. It might happen to you and don’t say you were not warned.

It’s a tight two horse race between a UNP alliance, ( with the JHU sitting merrily with the SLMC) and pro MR Forces. The UNP is at a disadvantage in being the government which ordinarily is a distinct advantage in having state machinery at hand before the 19th amendment. The UNP is in disarray being exposed to allegations of corruption and ineptitude on faulty selections made at the Finance Ministry and Central Bank. MR who had mastered the art of winning elections using state power is presently denied such facilities and is without an organisation or funding and is dependent on cronies closing seventy whose records are dubious in the absence of new talent. If the Attorney General’s Department is entrusted with the assignment of prosecuting the accused sure they would  live to contest many more elections!

The rise and fall of the UNP depends much on the make or break of evidence against the former administration’s endemic corruption and the line up of candidates selected by the Mahinda [MR] camp. A trend was reset in the predominantly Sinhala Buddhist urban electorates in 2015, that came strongly for MR in 2010 - a vote on which he depends to keep him afloat - saw a drift away from MR on governance issues. 

MR is street smart to keep detested faces away as candidates yet permitting them to lurk in the backrooms. Such practice could be more harmful if they are permitted to operate from an inside track, as MR carries too many IOUs to a lawless society and in standing in one line at the ongoing inquiries.

MR has a Peronite following by a sleeveless society for overcoming terrorism and for inaugurating projects that generated employment that put money into the pockets of the poor.  Sadly he could not create a pretty Evita to be by his side. 

RWs greatest achievement is that people live in a more relaxed atmosphere in the sphere of governance and courts of law function without interference and the rule of law is surfacing gently. There is a change for the better and for the worse.

It is intellectuals who have let down society more than  commoners. The contributions made by the ordinary people during the war need be compared with the activities of the upper echelons in the Central Bank under both administrations to illustrate the point.

Rajapakse (MR) carries charisma in defeating terrorism and derives sympathy in being ejected after bringing glory to the nation. In Sri Lanka political sins are washed away swiftly without the use of any detergent. 

Where is Sirisena in this equation?  Very few opposition voters would cast their ballot for Sirisena or his team deemed clay pigeons of the UNP. Yet, he might lead the official SLFP forces against the UNP. In a word coined by western journalists, Sirisena is a typical ‘frenemy’ or a friendly enemy for the UNP. Both UNP and Sirisena need to clutch each other to defeat a combined MR onslaught. Sirisens still needs the UNP to have a friendly contingent in the legislature.
Sirisena’s SLFP will make a negative impact on a vote gathering exercise but Sirisena remains a pivotal figure after a general election in the role of an enterprising merchant that can deliver elected MPs’ of MR to RW-if UNP wins a majority of seats but falls short of the magical number to form a government. Brisk trading in the parliamentary market will develop with price tags attached to MPs and Sirisena will be deemed an honest broker in that company. This man Rajapaksas felt was unfit to be the president has become a kingmaker as president ready to pinch MR’s parliamentarians.

RW can never measure to the level of MR in personal popularity. Yet he is probably Sri Lanka’s last true democrat- sinned more against than sinned.His weakness in bending to foreign intervention is legendary. Recently he preferred to take a dispute to an alien tribunal rather than seeking relief in the local jurisdiction and received much stick. This is a point at which MR scores as he is always for home remedies and people are confident that under him terrorism is under wraps. MR outdistances his rivals at this juncture.

Disturbances in the North are symptomatic of tell-tale marks of dissatisfaction and disenchantment.  The northerners are unappreciative of the loosening of controls under the present government and the benefits accorded to them by the previous government from the time the war ended. They have forgotten the sufferings when terrorism held sway and improvements enjoyed with the dawn of democracy. 

Much of the blame lies with northern politicians who seem to fault the Central Government notwithstanding the provisions made by them. Last time MR lost because of the North; this time he might win due to the North as the southern voters keep vigil on the northern situation and find that security is lax. they believe that MR has proved by deed he is capable of keeping the North secure unlike RW. An election maybe decided on this short point as the scourge of terrorism still lingers and the South is not in a tolerant mood to revert to that era.

Election results might usher a hung Parliament but it won’t stay that way for long, as sufficient number of MPs’ will cross to establish a stable government. Under the new constitutional amendments the new Parliament cannot be dissolved for 54 months. That might destabilise Parliament more than the lack of numbers on government benches.

Elections are won and lost on the national economy and in the North, more selfishly on the individual economy. After terrorism it is the economy that matters the most. There is no better symbol starring at the face of the middle class than the disgraced hierarchies of the Central Bank under both regimes. Such were permitted to thrive without any hindrance and were never shown the door. Why? There must be reasons, which we will never learn. Nevertheless it is devastating on the political leadership. This is in the background of poor performance by both regimes in the matter of the cost of living that affects the public. At election time the issue is: under whom was it worse? 

There is one significant difference. RW works on the job while MR roams around enhancing public relations. Neither, for sure, will make any worthwhile contribution since they are relics of the past surviving with their aged cronies due to lack of alternatives. That is the tragedy the next generation has to undergo. At least we had Mahinda and Ranil in their prime.
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