By Razi Mohmamadh –
On 8th of January 2015, Presidential election night, like many others I was awake waiting for the results. “it is going to be a long night” I thought. I don’t usually take risk by being awake all the night sacrificing my whole night sleep for polls results. But this time it was different. I as a Muslim, like many others, I wanted to make sure Maithripala Sirisena wins the elections. Minorities do not show much enthusiasm and interest in presidential elections in comparison to parliamentary elections. This time all most all of them were curious to know the outcome of the election. It is not my wish that Maithripala Sirisenana wins. It was most of the Sri Lankans’, specially minority’s-, very specially Muslims’ wish,- that Mahinda Rajapaksa kisses the dust. To be honest it was not the love for Maithri, it was a deep rooted hatred for Mahinda Rajapaksa. His tenure in office of the presidency changed the way Sri Lankan Muslims think and live.
Political realism is a theory of political philosophy that attempts to explain, model, and prescribe political relations. It takes as its assumption that power is (or ought to be) the primary end of political action, whether in the domestic or international arena. In the domestic arena, the theory asserts that politicians do, or should, strive to maximize their power*. Power has a tast.it is like a ‘RING’ in the Lord of the Rings. Once if you taste it, you will do anything to keep on tasting it again. It is a feeling of wanting more. To gain this so called power, Politicians do play dirty tricks. Sometimes it is called political warfare in international politics. Basically politicians who are embedded with political realism will always seek whatever means available to retain in Power. Because for politicians everything is about power. If not they are nothing.
There are ways to gain power in politics. There are few ways a ruler should not use to gain power.one of them is racism. If used, this will destroy the very fabric of the society.In the history of Sri Lankan political campaigns, ethnocentrism could have been present in a very minimal level, but never played the main role. If the early politicians wanted they could have used that . But they never used racism as a main strategy in the political campaigns. The earlier presidential campaigns of these earliest presidents never sidelined minorities in their politics. Unfortunately Mahinda Rajapaksa is the one and only president who used racism in a strategic level campaign plan to win the elections and to remain in power. existence of LLTE terrorism and promise to eradicate them had been the main strategy until Mr.Rajapaksa defeated the LTTE.As soon as Terrorism was wiped off, it created a vacuum. It was unfortunate he filled that with racism.
The creation of Bodu Bala Sena, sudden ignition of religions hatred, Halal campaign, grease man targeting Muslim areas, breaking of mosques, (Sarath Fonseka, Shirani Bandaranayaka, white vans, casino are different stories) have shattered the livelihood of Muslim community and crushed their hopes in the Mahinda regime. I can still recall the days Muslims were afraid to go to mosques for night prayers during Ramadan because of the grease man. Odd looks and gestures were stuck on Muslims travelling in the busses. Muslims were scared to get into the three wheelers owned by Sinhalese because of the fear of abuses and harassments. This reflected in all level of the societies. Living in fear is terrible than dying in hope. Mr.Rajapaksa’s agenda to remain in power led the country into the brink of collapse.
The arrival of Mithri brought the country waves of hopes and a sigh of relief. regardless the ethnic differences everybody wanted to get rid of this new harming racist experiments of Mahinda regime. People wanted a break. Maithri was seen as a savior of the people. Purely It was not because of Maithri. Any opponent candidate of MR would have been perceived the same by the people. That is the reason on the night of presidential elections I like many others was awake.
When Maithri won, it was like a feeling an ease after delivering a child.at the last push when the baby comes out, you will feel an easiness, a feeling of unloading something which is pressing you for a long time, a happiness of a poet on the completion of his poem after a long fight with words, a sigh of relief of a sinking man after seeing a boat coming towards him. Muslims served Parotta on the middle of the road to celebrate victory of Maithri an unlikely incident and reactions of minority for upon presidential elections. believe me it was like a festival. Everyone thought that was the end of Rajapaksa’s tether. But it seems not.
A difference between a democratic leader who has exhausted all his permitted terms of being elected to the office and a dethroned king is that the leader finally will settle with his legacy but the king will always try to come back to get the throne. Mahinda wanted to be a king. But Sri Lankans want a leader. Lifting the constitutional limitation for a president to contest presidential election from two to unlimited is a clear evidence how he craves for power. All of the previous presidents of this country after exhausting their terms never contested in the General elections. The logic is office of the executive presidency is more powerful and superior than the office of a single parliamentarian.it is a human nature that one who held a higher honor will not prefer lower than that. Why Mr. Mahida is an exception? even though he is clear that he has to stand up for the President Maithripala Sirisena who had been inferior to Mahinda during his presidency- if he comes to the stage during elections meetings, why would he put all his dignity in the stake for a parliamentarian position being aware that the premiership is least possible. This time it is not power.it is fear.
Mahinda Rajapaksa is very well aware that the most of the members of his previous regime are hunted down for various kinds of corruption allegations. Newly formed FCID is in full swing. Current Regime is on the move to clean the drainage of the previous regime. Now the tails are hunted down. Mr.Rajapaksa knows he is the head. They will come to him. Ranil Wickremesinge will not initiate any move to take some serious actions against Mahinda Rajapaksa unless he has a majority in the parliament. Rajapaksa knows his clock is ticking. He knows unless he holds the highest position in the parliament -the premiership-he will not be able to face the charges against him in future. He is risking his entire legacy to secure him a high position in the next parliament to save himself and those who aided and abetted him from the grip of Law. He is seeking for a safe mode. In contrary to the practice of the previous presidents he is contesting for parliamentary polls to save himself. Those who has the similar situation support him. Mr.Rajapaksa’s strategy is to create a supporting circle for him in the next Parliament. This is clear based on his fight with the Party to give nomination to his stalwart supporters like Western provincial chief minister Prasanna Ranatunga to contest under UPFA. As soon he created a circle of his supporters he will start pressurizing the party to give him the premiership, if not given, he will threat to remain as an independent group in the parliament. By doing this he is dreaming a Priministerial post and a secure way out for his fear of being convicted.
President Sirisena are aware of this. If he let MR to contest under UPFA all the hopes of those who supported and elected him will be in vein. All those who supported him wanted to get rid of MR. How come they would tolerate to see MR contesting with the approval of the President under UPFA. The one who promised to end the corrupted regime of the MR is now allowing him to contest under his party. How self-contradicting is this? But personally he doesn’t like it. but the pressure from the party led him to take this decision. the fear of losing majority in the parliament in case the nomination for MR is rejected, led to give MR nominations. Finally President chose the party over the policies.
But this rift and split in the UPFA and this crucial decision of the president will pave a way for UNP to gain votes. All those who supported Maithri will vote for UNP as they would see MR’s return to politics is the country’s return to another quagmire. Who will prefer a stinking blood shed over a bed of roses. This will help UNP to lead their election campaign to secure the votes of those who voted Maithri by explaining the crowd MR’s return to politics will revert everything. This means Mr’s return to politics will neither help the country nor his party.
This tells that the president’s decision to accommodate MR will sweep away the hope of the people who preferred him and will be a failed campaign strategy and a defeat for the future of the country.