By Jagath Asoka –
It is possible to defeat Mahinda Rajapaksa in the next presidential elections by appointing Chandrika Bandaranaike—Sri Lanka’s only female president, the daughter of two former prime ministers, the former leader of the SLFP—as the common candidate. There is another possibility: Chandrika can split not only the SLFP but also the other parties in the current UPFA and all the parties in the opposition and walk away with the members who are not happy with the current regime and with the current leaders of their parties and form a formidable opposition by making a new alliance; of course, she needs the help of the UNP, JVP, TNA, Sarath Fonseka, and everyone else who wants to defeat Mahinda; but she does not need total consensus, just the support of the most influential members, because the others will follow them. I am sure even Sajith will join Chandrika if he can be the next prime minister. Ranil can be the next speaker, but I prefer a Muslim candidate. Wigneswaran can be our Chief Justice.
We all know that this regime is not going to last forever; sooner or later, it is going to collapse—that is the nature of everything, including Mahinda. Those who are currently in power will not only regurgitate what they have been eating and have taken by force, power, or conceit but also face severe punishments and imprisonments; some will even lose their civil rights and be expelled from parliament, and possibly lose their lives, lives of their spouses, children, siblings, and their zealous supporters. We are on a path to perdition, but we have the power to avoid this catastrophic deluge of blood, lost due to unimaginable violence, based on personal vendetta, and resolve this mess peacefully. The nature of politics, like everything else in life, is that nothing lasts forever: change is ineluctable, necessary, and often unpredictable. We need a strong leader, as well as a strong, disciplined, peace-loving, non-violent, incorruptible coalition to counterbalance the powers of Mahinda and avoid the bloodbath in the future due to this regime’s ineluctable death: it is just a matter of time.
It seems to me that the UNP—neither Ranil nor Sajith nor any other clown who thinks that he or she can defeat Mahinda—is not the party that is going to change this regime; the counterbalancing formidable force to Rajapaksa clan is going to emerge by splitting the current UPFA by Chandrika, or it can happen spontaneously, but not by Ranil or Sajith. Here is a statement that Chandrika made in September 2009, during her visit to Kerala, India: “I too care for my life. Even though the current government is a government of my party, I don’t feel safe. There is an overall lack of freedom and an atmosphere of fear prevails in the country. The basic rights of the people and media freedom are restricted in Sri Lanka.”
It is highly possible, and I am somewhat certain, that the Rajapaksa clan will try to eliminate Chandrika if she enters this dog fight. So, her fears are real and tangible. Chandrika is going to be this regime’s next target, their next Sarath Fonseka; but Chandrika is not Sarath Fonseka; Chandrika is an experienced, gutsy, formidable, survivor/president—a tabby with nine lives—who would not walk away with her tail in between her hind legs when she is in a fight, especially when her opponent is Mahinda: Even Prabakaran could not kill her. Even though her husband Vijaya Kumaratunga—the most beloved Sri Lankan actor/politician so far—was assassinated, Chandrika survived; probably, the assassination of Vijaya explains the methods, thuggery, and tactics that Chandrika used to stay alive while she was in power.
The political climate has changed: Prabakaran is in the nether world, and JVP is using somewhat peaceful and democratic methods in battles, and has given up the bullet, at least for the time being. I doubt that Mahinda or any other Sri Lankan would ever replace or even come closer to Vijaya, as far as love and popularity is concerned. I do not have a dog in this fight, but do you think Mahinda Rajapaksa will survive if Chandrika enters this dog fight? Please let me know because your comments entertain me.
If it were Mahinda vs. Sajith or Mahinda vs. any other clown, I doubt that people would elect Sajith Premadasa or any other clown because it would be like a horse vs. a dog race; Sajith, probably, is the top dog in his party, but he cannot win the race against the horse who has won every Derby race; Sajith is the fastest dog in the Greyhound racing events; I think Chandrika has a better chance of defeating Mahinda. Think of these two facts: In 2010, Mahinda Rajapaksa, even after annihilating the LTTE, obtained only 57%, and Sarath Fonseka received 40%; but Fonseka carried the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka. So, even after annihilating Prbakaran’s group, Mahinda obtained only 7% more in 2010 than he did in 2005. Then in September 2013, TNA received 78.5% in the Northern Provincial Council elections, whereas UPFA received only 18.4 %. If the UNP, TNA, JVP, and Sarath Fonseka were to support Chandrika, don’t you think she can defeat Mahinda? The question is who is going to unite all these players? Do you think Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera and/or Magala Munasinghe can do this? It is a viable option and a pragmatic solution because everyone who supports Chadrika will be in a win-win situation. Imagine what would happen to Rajapaksa bothers when Sarath Fonseka becomes the Defense secretary, and Wigneswaran becomes our Chief Justice; I think even Navi Pillay and the rest of the world who hates this regime will dance for a week to celebrate Mahinda’s defeat. It is going to be like Nelson Mandela’s victory over Apartheid.
Think of the recent developments; JHU vehemently opposes government’s proposal to open James Packer’s casino in Colombo; the Chief Prelate of the Asgiri Chapter of the Siam Sect, Venerable Udugama Sri Buddharakkitha Thera was shocked over the allegations leveled against Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne, allegations related to drugs; even Wimal Weerawansa recently criticized their own Education Minister, Bandula Gunawardena’s move to scrap the Grade Five scholarship examination; Vasudeva Nanayakkara says that the people have a right to information, especially government information. It seems like that all the sycophants, cronies, and rats of Mahinda have taken the first step: They have changed their usual sickening tunes and nauseating chants; it seems like the Titanic—the unsinkable ship: Mahinda’s regime—is going to sink soon, and all the rats are preparing to jump ship. There is only one way to save people like Mervin, Dayasiri, Wimal, and the other rats—including ambassadors, ex-military chiefs, VCs, Ministers, MPs, and others rats who are currently supporting this regime: Jump ship. I am pretty sure that all Rajapaksas are very smart and pragmatic; otherwise, they would not have survived this far; I think they will recognize this impending doom; I pray that the Lord Buddha would give them the wisdom to do the right thing to save our country from this impending, unimaginable bloodbath that is going to happen when this regime collapses. It is going to be worse than anything that we have ever seen so far; the thirty years that we suffered because of Prabakaran will look like a blessing, compared to this looming doom that we are going to experience: there is only one way to avoid this disaster: A peaceful regime change and amnesty to all: to all who have ruined our country, provided that they return everything that they have stolen from the hapless Sri Lankans. I firmly believe in civility, one of the graceful amenities of any society.
It seems to me that most of the UPFA’s current members are eagerly waiting to ditch Mahinda, and they are just waiting for the auspicious occasion; those who crossed over to the UPFA will jump back to protect themselves: A frog is always a frog.
If Chandrika were to become the common candidate, all she has to do is to promise all the ministers that she would not prosecute them for stealing money from the people as long as they reveal how they did it and return the money to the public. I know that Sri Lankans are not ready for a Tamil President, but I am certain that they are ready for a Tamil Chief Justice. All you have to do is this: compare Wigneswaran with the current Chief Justice Mohan Pieris and the former Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake. Wigneswaran could be the latest, amalgamated-incarnation of Lakshman Kadirgamar and Chelvanayakam. I think most Sri Lankans are sick of corruption and nepotism; I also think people want to establish the rule of law in Sri Lanka, not Mahinda’s or Gotabaya’s law. I cannot think of a better candidate for Chief Justice position in Sri Lanka other than Wigneswaran. Do you have a better candidate? To achieve sweeping constitutional reforms we must abolish the current Executive Presidency, shorten the Parliament life to five years, abolish the preferential vote system, and limit the number of ministers to nine: country’s nine provinces will have its own premier and civil service.
If Chandrika were to run against Mahinda, Mahinda’s problems such as lack of Media freedom, allegations of war crimes, white van disappearances, nepotism, not following the rule of law, corruption, financial skullduggery, rising cost of living, and lower standard of education and healthcare can be magnified issues. Mahinda cannot keep milking the victory over Prabakaran forever: even the mythical cow Surabhi is going to run out of milk if you keep milking her without a respite. Sooner or later the magical powers of this victory over Prabakaran are going to fade away and other burning issues are going to determine the outcome of our presidential elections in Sri Lanka.
I pray that if Chandrika were to win, she would not tread on the path of vengeance: the path to perdition. I am certain that some people want nothing but to avenge and to take revenge, but there is another path: Total reconciliation. I think we need just more than one person to establish the rule of law in our country; more than one person to establish total reconciliation; more than one person to give Tamils, Muslims, and Burghers their freedoms that the majority Sinhalese population enjoys but vehemently denies the same freedoms for the minorities.
Can you think of a Sri Lanka where we would have a President or Prime Minister who would say that he or she would obey the laws of the land just like everyone else? Can you imagine a Sri Lanka where politicians will be sent to jail for stealing money; thugs, rapists, and murders do not end up as members of our parliament; there is no nepotism; everybody has an equal chance to get a better education and a better job based on merits, not on nepotism? I do not know about you, but I dream of that Sri Lanka.
I think Sri Lanka will benefit tremendously if the next government decides to give instant dual citizenship to all Sri Lankans who have become citizens of other countries. Now, only Gotabaya has the sole power to decide who gets the dual citizenship; dual citizenships should be automatic and given freely, free of charge. Gotabaya is acting alike a monster that is guarding a heap of gold and virgins; the monster has no need for either, but he is guarding the gold and the virgins because of his insatiable greed for power.
After Mahinda is gone, what are we going to do next? Some say that you cannot find gems in sewage tanks, but I disagree with them. I think we can do something similar to what South Africa did: Have an interim constitution, guaranteeing separation of powers, creating a constitutional court, and including a US-style bill of rights; country’s nine provinces will have its own premier and civil service, a concession between the desire for federalism and unitary government.
I am a firm believer of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. Once we get rid of Mahinda, there is a possibility that he will enter the realm of gods and become Saint Mahinda because those who say that Mahinda is a dictator can become worse than Mahinda: Don’t forget, that is also a real possibility!