2 December, 2023


After The NCM: Thinking About Positive Possibilities

By Jayadeva Uyangoda

Prof. Jayadeva Uyangoda

The outcome of the voting at the conclusion of parliamentary debate yesterday on the Non Confidence Motion in the Prime Minister has three immediate and readily visible political consequences. Firstly, it strengthened the position of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the UNP within the coalition government. Secondly, the voting also both strengthened and weakened the Joint Opposition (JO). While managing to split the SLFP led by President Sirisena and thereby gaining political advantage over the President and the SLFP, the JO failed to sustain its winning momentum gained at the recently held local government elections.

The third outcome is no less significant. It broke the unity of President Sirisena’s SLFP and helped form two camps — those who voted for the NCM, and those, the majority, who abstained from voting, indirectly supporting the PM. This also ended the President’s not – so – hidden campaign to oust from office Ranil Wickremasinghe as the Prime Minister and decisively weaken the UNP’s position within the coalition government.

New Equation

Thus, the first phase of the power struggle between Wickremasinghe-led UNP, Sirisena-led SLFP, and Rajapaksa-led JO has come to an end with an interesting re-configuration of power relations in the country. Contrary to expectations of both the JO and President Sirisena, the UNP has emerged stronger, pushing the JO and President Sirisena to the second and third positions respectively. Ministers who voted for the NCM and abstained from voting represent two distinct political trends within the SLFP, with the potential to develop itself into a source ofa new split. Thus, the task of preventing another major rupture within the SLFP would be added to the busy workload of President Sirisena.

Meanwhile, the new equation, that was crystalized last night, also has the potential to provide incentives for the reinvention and re-building of the coalition government, led by President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe in discordance for the past several months. The time has indeed come for both leaders to have a sober introspection into what went wrong so far in their handling of the coalition government since January 2015.

For a Cooperative Coalition

A key lesson awaiting their attention is the following: if the coalition government were to function effectively till the end of 2019, the two camps will have to chalk out a new strategy of cooperative coalition governance.

This puts separate demands on each of the two leaders. On President Sirisena’s part, he needs to realize that his intention of removing Ranil Wickremasinghe as the PM and finding a docile replacement has effectively come to an end. He has to now learn to work in collaboration with a PM who he may personally dislike. It is a strange law in politics that one cannot always choose people with whom one enjoys working. India’s top leadership of the BJP government is an example. Leaders who are known to personally dislike each other have learnt to work politically in a spirit of compromise.

President Sirisena also needs to critically review his ambition of obtaining a second term in office in 2020. Last night’s configuration of forces shows that the minority parties and minority voters are not likely to trust President Sirisena over Prime Minister Wickremesinghe or his UNP. With a candidate from the Rajapaksa camp, President Sirisena might not find it easy to become even a credible presidential candidate.

Thus, and as things stand at present, President Sirisena’s political future is still bound with the dynamics of the yahapalanaya coalition. If it is revived, with a return to its original mandate of January 2015 and cementing the coalition with the UNP and other parties, President Sirisena might be able to chart out a graceful next phase in his political career.

The prospects for the UNP and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe are also similar in terms of the depth of the challenges they have to confront. Threats to Wickremesinghe’s position as the UNP leader are an old story. If we turn to other issues, they too are formidable. In the short run, the UNP should not think it possible to go it alone, without the SLFP or President Sirisena, in the form of a minority government. Mr. Sirisena holds a great deal of constitutional authority in his capacity as the President of the Republic under the 19th Amendment. The UNP also needs the solid support of the SLFP if it were to implement any new policy initiatives meant to serve their unfulfilled promises.

New Approach

This is where a new framework of cooperative coalition governance needs be invented without delay. Political management of the coalition government requires an entirely new approach, very different from the casual approach the PM Wickremesinghe has been following sine the beginning of the present government and the combative approach that President Sirisena adopted of late.

Similarly, the UNP leaders should not take for granted the support extended to them last night by the Tamil and Muslim parties. The latter have legitimate expectations that their grievances and concerns will be addressed soon, turning words into deeds and tangible action. The effective cementing and further consolidation of the understanding between the UNP and the minority parities is essential for Sri Lanka’s democracy. This is particularly crucial in the light of the reported warning by President Sirisena that the UNP leadership should not depend on the TNA’s support to win against the NCM. At a time when some Sinhalese leaders still see the minorities as untouchables in times of political crisis, the UNP, as demonstrated last night, is the only mainstream party that considers political cooperation with minority parties legitimate, and perhaps, more than instrumentalist.

Finally, political conflicts have their own dynamics. The conflict between president Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe slowly evolved over a period of two years and suddenly escalated late last year, exploding in the open during the past two months. What we saw is a culmination of the conflict with some surprising outcomes and unforeseen consequences. What is unusual about the last night’s political drama is that no party won a decisive victory. No party suffered a decisive defeat either. The outcomes are actually provisional. They thus offer a new opportunity for President Sirisena and his SLFP and PM Wickremesinghe and his UNP to also realize that they will be better off politically if they (a) begin to think about a new framework of cooperation, and (b) jointly retrieve the 2015 reform agenda.

That requires a new dialogue, not open-war or confrontation, between the two main partners of the coalition government.

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Latest comments

  • 7

    “The JO failed to sustain its winning momentum gained at the recently held local government elections”. What a stupid point you are making. JO victory was at the electorate and the NCM was in parliament, voted by corrupt ‘yakos’. Get real!. (read my comment on DJ’s article).

    • 9

      JO won the LG election mostly because people wanted to send a message to the govt with the least amount of damage. They knew the govt is not going to change by their vote. JO is not going to repeat what they received at the LG.

    • 9

      Saman Semage

      You are blinded by your racist intentions. Time to understand and acknowledge the fact that there are more peace loving citizens than there are like you.

    • 4

      Get a better analysis Uyangoda!
      Ranil and Mahinda are 2 sides of a coin. Both are equally corrupt and should share the same prions cell. They are partners in financial and hate crimes, and the political culture of money politics, immunity and impunity for corruption, evident in destruction of reputation of Central Bank, and law and order and justice institutions, and attacks on minorities in Lanka.

      Meanwhile, the name of the US game with their foreign citizen Gotabaya Rajapaksa as the Avant Guard, Manchurian Candidate and Ranil as their leader, is: “Heads I win, Tails you lose”.

      This is what explains the existing UNP-SLFP bi-partisan political corruption racket, and Ranil’s protection for Mahinda Jarapassa family. Meanwhile poor Sirisena, the farmer, is out at sea and drowning!

      Either way the people of Lanka are screwed with Super power rivalry between China and its backing for corrupt MR and Mega Polis Pathala Champika who owns and operates BBS and Mahasohon Balakaya and the US/ India nexus and fake development advisers who draft policy in Ranil’s office.

      Long live Miracle of Modayas!

  • 5

    I really admire Dr Uyangoda’s intellectual earnestness. I think his take home message is a philosophical one: to understand the world, even the putrid political world for what it is. Take the situation for its manifest reality without falling in to the false trap of over security. To understand the opportunity to avoid political brutality with each other and the work towards progress. Why isn’t Dr. Uyangoda an appointed member of parliament? Apparently there are 94 MPs who have failed O/L.. Thank you Dr. Uyangoda for your analysis.

    • 4

      “”Why isn’t Dr. Uyangoda an appointed member of parliament?
      Perhaps He does not care for the Company!

  • 9

    I alway believe that UNP is better for Sri Lanka..
    First of all the bulk of SLFP are now corrupt and thieves..

    Secondly..MR although won the war he did not do well for the last 8 years in politics .
    I.do not have any confidence in his family too.
    Ranil or some UNP are deducted and they lesser evil .
    Ranil made a big mistake.
    But compared what MR did .
    It is nothing.
    Sorry to say people around MR tarnish his name .
    Sorry for him. A good man but people made his name bad.
    Unfortunate president of Sri Lankan history.
    He should have left the politics for his name sake long time ago .
    He trust his cohort more..
    So sorry…

  • 0

    JAyadeva Yuangoda: Read MAthalan’s article in CT,right here. YOu both talk the same talk. WE know now the Target is PResident. Ranil doe snot mind anything as long as soe one takes him to the top post. Ranil is a JOKER. Definitely, he is happy even though he is naked. The whole parliament is happy eventhough they are naked. It is money and power that decided the win or lose. Itis minorities saying that 69% of the voter base must submit to us to the 31% of the voter base which is minorities which includes Tamils, Muslims and Protestants, prominently Evangelists. so, you want Ranil to continue his destabilization of the country movement until foreigners land here do what they want. I know YOu were JVP, the big gang, AND NOW TALK DIFFERENT. It was stupid to kill Rohana Wijeweera. He told what he had to say before his death, I heard.

  • 0

    Only thing I see is Sri lanka needs a president who is accountable to the 69% of the voters. That is how every is run run. Democrqacy is not democraqcy when the 31% of the Minorities governthe 69% of the voters. Tamil HIndus are with buddhists and Tamilchristians are different. there are msulims too. Evengelists should not be trusted eventhough they are sinhala. they showed it through the LTTE war.

  • 0

    Right now what the opposition to Sri lankan majority says that the 31% is far important than the 69%. That should be the issue when the general election and presidential election comes.

    • 5

      Jim softly or Jim stupidly?

      Your immature comments are truly amazing. The issue is we have struggled enough thanks to hate mongering people like you leading from the top.

      Sri Lanka needs a president who will stand by every sinhalese, muslim and tamil who are proud to call themselves Sri Lankans. Sadly, we have never been blessed with one and the incumbent one is quickly forgetting why he was elected.

      Power corrupts, even those who have had the most humblest of beginnings.

  • 5

    Prof. Jayadeva Uyangoda,

    RE: After The NCM: Thinking About Positive Possibilities

    In the end, the truth prevails. Ask the Church about Galileo and the Heliocenyric model of Copernicus.

    Mama Seka Kalemi, Mama Dena Gathimi,
    I suspected, I came to know

    Through the grape vines, bulath vine sand vetilla vines….

    Ranil’s honesty is the best policy wins by a majority of 46 votes – venomous serpents thrust into garbage bin.!

    Prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe emerged dazzlingly triumphant by a majority of 46 votes in the no confidence motion brought against him and the good governance government . Even if the votes that were not cast by the absentees and those of the opponents are added together , the P.M. has still won by a majority of 21 votes !

    The final results following a full 12 hour debate are as follows:
    Votes in favor of no confidence motion -76
    Votes against no confidence motion- 122
    Absentees at the time of voting – 26

    The JVP and some members of president Gamarala group voted in favor.
    What was most rudely shocking was , deputy minister Nishantha Muthuhettigama and Cader Mastan themselves who signed the no confidence motion against the P.M. keeping away at the time of voting.

    It is significant to note , not a single UNF member voted for the no confidence motion , proving there are no mentally deranged members in the UNF , as Akila Viraj pointed out earlier on.

    Range Bandara who was bragging unrelentingly that there were 20 members with him of the UNP to vote against the P.M. sprung a surprise by voting against the no confidence motion. Vasantha Senanayake too voted against the no confidence motion. Ex minister of justice Wijedasa Rajapakse who is critical of the government also voted against the motion.

  • 6

    Prof Uyangoda is reiterating a simple psychological fact: you don’t have to like the other person in order to work with him/her ( unlike in the case of marriage). This is true in politics, in the work place and in committies. In parliamentary ‘democracies’ coalitions have become the norm. As he says so elegantly, this requires a different mind set. It includes setting aside former and current differnces for the sake of achieving progress. It needs the adoption of a professional aittitude. Admittedly, this is not an easy task, but the famous quote from Churcill comes to mind. On the other hand, this is the height of opportunism, i.e., the willingness to hang on to power whatever the means. The main point for us, the recipiants of their mechanisations is this: whose interests do each of them represent and for whose interests are they working?

  • 5

    Of course, the January 8 momentum is being proved once again right.However, now more meat is expected in the sandwich.President and premier should work together putting the interest of the country first.We should take note of the speech made by the leader of the opposition, Hon.R.Sampanthan MP and Hon. Fieldmarshal Sarath FonsekaMP on the day of the NCM. The vicious elements from SLFP who were behind this move should be expelled from the party for not adhering to basic norms and ethics.The motion too has its own flows and mislead the country.The conscience vote has definitely weakened the President and his relationship with the premier.Now the whole country knows the political fools who are corrupted and want to come back to power.Let us hope for the best for the motherland in the days to come.

  • 0

    Everybody knows what occurred in 2015 was not an establishment of a yahapalanaya or righteous governance. Yahapalanaya was just a slogan to camouflage a (nationalist orientated) regime change project, hatched by a grouping of global, regional and local actors within the shades of liberal neo conservatism and ethnic separatism. Subsequent events related to subversion of democracy, mega scale robberies/corruption, break down in law & order, brutal suppression of worker/student agitation, weakening of national security apparatus, threatening the country’s national interests, all of which are antithesis to the very concept of yahapalanaya, amply demonstrated the true agenda of the regime change architects. From the point of view of defeating these treacherous anti national forces who have captured the levers of power, the outcome of NCM provides very tangible positive possibilities (which is largely an opposing approach to Jayadeva Uyangoda). The NCM has provided opportunities to further widening the inter and intra party fissures/conflicts of yahapalana partners thus weakening the organisations within though RW can crow at the top for the moment. Continued tactical and strategic measures would bring down the edifice of this rogue yahapalana pretenders/usurpers in a not so distant time frame. Nation eagerly awaits that moment.

  • 0

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  • 3

    Bro Jimy I am truly sorry if I had called you in discriminating terms in the past. I have genuine concern for you. Please I repeat please see a neurologist(not the lankan ones, instead of looking at the brain they may start looking some where else) ASAP. Your choice of words,articulation, typing errors are gross and scary. If at all you are consuming any alcohol or any other mood altering agents get on the wagon.

  • 0

    The underlying assumption of the “Analysis” is that that all our representatives have voted guided by their conscience in the interest of the country, each according to his/her point of view. I only hope that Mr Jayadeva is not fooling himself. People are well aware of the real political games being played around Diyawannawa. The attempt to misguide the reading public is silly to say the least. I am at a loss to understand how intellectuals of this calibre have failed to realise that the prevailing situation is one of people against a massively corrupt legislature. They prefer to bury their heads ostriche style over the voter reaction on the 10th February . That’s people while this NCM comedy is all about our crooks in the parliament. Of course it is a victory OVER people – a licence to continue against public apathy. Yahapalana “sevalayas” are happy. These fools mistakenly believe or try to have us believe that people now having duly considered the majority opinion of their representatives of the parliament will reverse their decision on the Feb 10.

    • 2


      “That’s people while this NCM comedy is all about our crooks in the parliament. “

      You are alluding to something that never happened. It was the 40 odd clowns in the parliament calling themselves Joint Opposition who brought this unnecessary, unwanted, time wasting, ……….comic opera to the parliament. If I could remind you that it was neither the government nor the opposition initiated NCM.

      Do you know the closing prices offered to MP’s for switching their loyalty to the clowns? Do you find it difficult to tell the clowns off, because of your blind loyalty to them?

      Have you noticed AKD has been sitting on the fence for the past few years and has now decided to join the crooked clowns?

      Was the Kandy riots profitable for you?

  • 0

    Minorities falling pray to political ambitions of the capitalist class is a sad spectacle. Mr Jayadeva has worded it as ‘coorporation’ in political crises and encourages them to follow through as a means of winning their political objectives. This advice to be in constant confrontation with the majority of Sinhala Buddhists is a dose of cyanide. The minorities banding together with minority of majority will never achieve anything against the will of the majority of majority.

    • 0


      “Minorities falling pray to political ambitions of the capitalist class is a sad spectacle.”

      Whom did you have in mind, the Sinhala/Buddhist ghetto builders?

  • 3

    What a breath of fresh air to read Prof. Jayadeva Uyangoda. Profoundly knowledgeable, precise and brief. Truly an education. But of course you can’t stop rabid street dogs barking.

  • 0

    By that Sasi’s comment note……

    Since 1971 April 5th by the terror attacked of JVP destroy valued of democracy attempted to uproot rights of sovereignty of people in Island. Therefor hijack democracy by JVP terrorist has destroy many rights of people which including the human rights.
    That is call for the politics anarchism advocated by JVP. They[JVP] an open broad-base path for political corruptions an give way to UNP and SLFP to remain in power of politics many years to come.
    In case of UNP and SLFP are born corrupted political parties and their leaders are more corrupted in every sphere life of political maneuvering.

    The current ongoing that all round by that corruptions of UNP+SLFP “good governances” has not brought forward by overnight .It has long history of corruption specially since 1977.
    The peculiar known real term of Corruptions has extended to Central Bank robbery by UNP Ranil Wicks in massive scale that penetrated into scandal of Bonds trillions of Rupees for many generations to comes > They are not shame about that! RW of UNP’s says that is Democracy of Liberalism?
    While win of No Confidence Motion in Parliament by majority votes of 122 of RW said it has endorsed their right to new form of looted public funds !
    That is day of Democracy advocated by UNP, TNA, of Tamils MC of all Muslim MPs and separated role of played by abstain is new era of corrupted politics of SLFP. The Parliamentary form of struggle of abstain are there is another form fooling masses in model of “Good Governances”….nexus to Liberalism of Western values
    They think and enjoy that all people are idiots.

  • 2

    NCM has provided a fortuitous chance to SF, Rajitha et al to have a lucky day for them to attack all the culprits of the past regime and also it has boosted all the UNP’ers from top to bottom but the unfortunate fallout is that the President has been weakened further who has no other options but to be with the PM for his present-day and future political living. In the process, MS has earned the wrath of both UNP’ers and SLFP’ers and his political future has become bleak and weak.

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