By Charitha Herath –
With the brutal terrorist attacks on Easter Sunday, many faces of our society have been changed. Those changes were not only demonstrated in the ‘talks’ of the leaders of political or religious circles, but also in the ground level, specially with country’s economy been badly effected. It is not an exaggeration to say that country’s tourism sector is almost dying! Large scale businesses which were dealing with international supply chains such as the apparel sector are alienated from their respective buyers since the country’s security situation became vulnerable hindering prospective future activities. Some of these big factory chains were asked to search for ‘alternatives’ for their operations and it has been suggested that the backup plans should be initiated in ‘peaceful’ countries like Bangladesh or Vietnam! In a nutshell, the economic sector of the country has got hit by a ‘tsunami’ in all terms.
The repercussions of these waves are not only shown in the economic sector. The political dramas in the town show that the power political dimensions of the country have been completely messed-up with the Easter Sunday attacks. political stakeholders in the mainstream such and President Sirisena and PM Wickremesinghe have shown that they don’t have any strategic plan for countering the disasters occurred through the incident. And both of them seems only trying to leave a ‘space of suspicion on each other’ by imitating that ‘the other didn’t allow me to act’ kind of thinking. According to a friend of mine, what they are trying to do is to create a thinking among the common people that ‘if I were not blocked by the other guy, I would have delivered the tasks that were promised in 2015 mandate. This is a pathetic situation, if not any other.
Now we have a situation from people’s side that they want a guy who would not play this blame game again and who could achieve the task of the hour. It is in this conjuncture that we see talks going on in the town that the potential candidate must be and outsider, a businessman or a cricketer who could run for the presidential race which is going to be held in the last part of this year.
In my view, we have arrived at a crossroad again in the history our democratic system. The growing political interests in the town show that people’s expectations to have a non-party guy or guys for the law maker’s position, would be high-jacked by the mainstream political actors for covering up their interests. Mainly, the internal news arriving from UNP party mechanism shows that they are more likely to get a candidate for the presidential election from the business community or from some other sector since they can not market their own leaders within the country for the upcoming presidential election. Mainstream media discussed this approach in last couple of weeks. There are two important points that we should look at, with regard to this initiative from UNP.
The first point is to see the real objective of such a move. As we all know this is not the first time that UNP has tried to use a ‘third’ party to run for presidency, and this is not the first time that they have tried to capture the power using such third party guy in the front. They have tired this in 2010, by selecting a war-time general (whom they once called as a suitable general for Salvation Army) as their presidential candidate! The move was failed and was defeated by the people. However, the same strategy succeeded in 2015 and thus started this hybrid administration of Sirisena-Wickremesinghe which is responsible for many lapses of governing and political crisis in many areas that we face today. The real intention behind the ‘third party’ or a ‘common’ candidate syndrome from UNP is to search a ‘hole to hide’ the faces of some leaders whom they can’t market as the choice of the people. This was not the way traditional UNP has done their politics but it became the main strategy for them from 1994 onwards. The discussion on ‘non political common candidate’ topic of the town after Easter Sunday attack should be read in this context and should be identified with the interest of the ‘hidden force’ behind the mask than of the guy who shows the interest to run for the presidency. We have heard that some big business guys or retired cricketers were approached to offer the candidacy in this as well. The same history (the failed one in 2010 and the succeeded one in 2015) is going to repeat back. The importance of the hour is to identify such a move clearly and unveil the interest behind interventions.
The second point that I would like to note here is the historical records of UNP getting power. The UNP as a party after 1994 defeat in both the parliamentary and presidential elections, never succeeded in getting power back on their own. Even in the two occasions that they won parliamentary and presidential elections after 94 were times that then SLFP secretaries crossed over to them. In 2002 it was with then SLFP sec S. B. Dissanayake’s cross over to UNP and in 2015 it was then SLFP Sec Maithripala Sirisena’s cross over. It is interesting to see that after this second cross over, SLFP as party was weakened and became non functional due to many different reasons. So now UNP does not have a strong second party to highjack a secretary to their side.
Since the securing power through a ‘third eye’ has become the only way possible for the governing party; UNP, from 1994 on wards, it seems that a shadow guy who carries ‘professional or non political’ card would be the next victim of this political gamble. I wouldn’t be surprised if they use a professional guy in the “gambling domain” to play this gamble.