21 May, 2022


Entangled Mr. President Sirisena

By Dinesh D. Dodamgoda

Dinesh Dodamgoda

Dinesh Dodamgoda

The Colombo Telegraph (CT) reported that the President Maithripala Sirisena will have to lead the Sri Lanka Freedom Party’s (SLFP) campaign at the forthcoming polls to elect members to the local authorities, expected to take place at the end of the year.

The CT further reported that the above development comes in the wake of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa who led the UPFA campaign in a losing battle against the UNP at the last general election deciding to hand over the reins to Sirisena.

What does this mean? How different stakeholders would read this development, especially the UNP, people who voted for Mr. Sirisena at the last Presidential election, international players, the minority, the SLFP voters who voted for former President Rajapaksa at last elections, and the parties attached to the UPFA?

MaithripalaMr. Sirisena declared when he was contesting the last the Presidential election that he would not contest again. However, his decision to lead the SLFP at the forthcoming local polls indicates that the President Sirisena is looking for a new voter base to derive legitimacy to acquire his political power. This implies that the President Sirisena is not yet ready to end his political journey. Most probably, his next political battle will be against the UNP, the party that supported him to be the President of Sri Lanka.

The decision by President Sirisena to lead the SLFP at elections is a challenging one. Primarily, he must clarify his ideological stance. Whether he would accept the Nationalistic ideology of 4.7 million voters who voted for former President Rajapaksa led UPFA or not? If he accepts, what is the position that the President Sirisena would like take in terms of proposed domestic inquiry into alleged war crimes? Would he support the new constitution, if it tries to bring a pro Federal line in terms of devolving power? Would President Sirisena allow the proposed Constitution to give more powers to the Prime Minister? President Sirisena must clarify his stances in line with a more Nationalistic ideology, if he wants to derive legitimacy from the SLFP voter base.

If President Sirisena to take a more Nationalistic position with regard to the above mentioned issues, what would this mean to the minority that supported him at the last the Presidential election? One of the points that the President Sirisena may put forward to convince the SLFP voters would be if he leads the campaign he could attract the minority support than the former President Rajapaksa. In fact, would President Sirisena attract the minority support, if he wants to take a more Nationalistic line? I doubt.

If President Sirisena is to attract the minority support for the SLFP, he would not take a more Nationalistic stance with regard to sensitive issues such as the proposed domestic inquiry and the proposed new constitution. Then, how it would be read by the more Nationalist population that the President Sirisena aims to derive his legitimacy? Can President Sirisena convince the SLFP voters that the less Nationalistic line he wants to take is a mere political tactic? Then, would the minority be satisfied with President Sirisena’s sincerity? It is a challenging task for President Sirisena, no doubt.

The other course of action available to President Sirisena is to take no ideological positions and to drag the proposed domestic inquiry and the constitutional reforms not until the next local polls are over, but at least until the next general election is over. Otherwise, the strategy has no use. Then, what would be the reaction from international stake holders of the President Sirisena’s Presidency and the stakeholders from the minority? They would definitely rally behind the UNP and would extend their support to secure UNP’s victory.

There is no doubt that the President Sirisena’s decision to lead the SLFP at the forthcoming local polls is a challenging one. What was the other option available to President Sirisena? He would have delivered what he promised during his Presidential election and should retire from politics as an honourable statesman. Yet, he changed his mind and now got entangled. How he should be detangled?

It requires two things. First, the strategy should deliver President Sirisena’s current stakeholders aspirations. Second, the strategy should be able to derive support from the SLFP voters. What is the best conceptual framework to strategies a path to meet both opposing ends? The conceptual framework should find a middle ground for both ends. How should President Sirisena do this?

First, President Sirisena should drop extreme items in the reforms list that cannot derive support from the SLFP voter base. Second, President Sirisena should gradually bring the SLFP ideological stance to a middle ground through opinion makers who are appealing to SLFP voters. This endeavour takes time, definitely the objective cannot be achieved by the forthcoming local polls. Until then, the President Sirisena will remain entangled.

*Dinesh D. Dodamgoda, a Fulbright scholar and a lawyer, has a M.Sc. degree from the British Royal Military College of Science, Shrivenham (Cranfield University) on Defence Management and Global Security. He was also an MP from 1995-2000.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 3

    Dinesh D. Dodamgoda

    RE: Entangled Mr. President Sirisena

    “What does this mean? How different stakeholders would read this development, especially the UNP, people who voted for Mr. Sirisena at the last Presidential election, international players, the minority, the SLFP voters who voted for former President Rajapaksa at last elections, and the parties attached to the UPFA?”

    The Great Game. Sirisena, the Common Candidate Vs. Rajapaksa, the MaRa Candidate of Family Dictatorship.

    The First Phase was to dethrone Mahinda Rajapaksa, MaRa from the Presidency, Completed.

    The Second Phase to prevent Mahinda Rajapaksa from becoming Prime Minister, Completed.

    The Third Phase is to take the UPFA away from Mahinda Rajapajsa and his cronies. Ongoing.

    The Four Phase is to show legitimacy to the voters that Mitripala Sirsesna is truly the leader of UPFA and SLFP.

    Fifth Phase is…..?

    The Great Game.


    The Great Game” was the strategic rivalry and conflict between the British Empire and the Russian Empire for supremacy in Central Asia.[1] The classic Great Game period is generally regarded as running approximately from the Russo-Persian Treaty of 1813 to the Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907. A less intensive phase followed the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. In the post-Second World War post-colonial period, the term has continued in use to describe the geopolitical machinations of the Great Powers and regional powers as they vie for geopolitical power and influence in the area.[2][3]

    The term “The Great Game” is usually attributed to Arthur Conolly (1807–1842), an intelligence officer of the British East India Company’s 6th Bengal Light Cavalry.[4] It was introduced into mainstream consciousness by British novelist Rudyard Kipling in his novel Kim (1901).[5]

  • 6

    I feel that President Sirisena is slowly losing his way.

    He is gradually getting himself intertwined in the poisonous web of Sri Lankan politics. This is what power does to Sri Lankan people. Already he is not the same man who came out a month before the January elections promising a yahapalanaya. Many of the crooks from the much maligned last government already make Sirisenas close circle.

  • 7

    When GREED enters from the back door; noble aspirations walk out of the front door.

    Poor Sirisena!

    Unaware of the dormant greed of his character, he usurped the high moral ground. But he had no morals. Alas a fate awaits him no different to that of the Emperor left naked.

    Dear Mr President, here’s some guidance that came to mankind 1400 ago:

    “To him who is greedy and feels self sufficient
    And repudiates the just path
    We will make smooth the path to evil (as for MaRa)
    And his filthy hoard will be of no avail
    When he goes down in destruction.”

    Sura Al Lail 92:8-11

  • 5

    Dear Dinesh D Dodamgoda,
    Do you accept that your are able to express your views like this because Rajapakse regime is no more there ? Why it is no more there ? Because of the majority of the Sri Lanka voters regardless of their race or religion made their decisions twice this year. One on 8th Jan. and the other on 17th August.
    You have not thrown more light on the following :
    1. What do you mean by ” nationalistic ideology ” ?
    2. The definition of Statesman or Statesmen in the context of Sri Lanka ?
    3. Basing on your definition/s, who were the statesman/ statesmen Sri Lanka has produced since 1947 ?
    4. The definition/s of a Sri Lankan National Government ?
    5. What are the ideologies of the component parties of UPFA ?
    6. After the results on 8th Jan and 17th August, isn’t better for UPFA component parties to go their own ways in order to bring the Sri Lankan political culture out of the rut and go forward ?

    • 2


      Heard the saying “go fly a kite”?

      You know how to do it? Homo’s at Galle Face Green may do it for you. Try.

    • 2

      Non PhD,
      Why so much bother about finding definitions?
      Do you know that still UN could not find a consensus definition on Terrorism. Yet, the world is fighting against terrorism.
      In a general discourse you do not want to have a clear cut definition on a phenomenon. A general understanding would be sufficient to understand what the writer says.
      Even in most of the academic literature, we find ‘working definitions’, Yet not absolute definitions.
      Please complete your PhD and then you will find that still the world does not have clear definitions on most of the phenomena that they dealt with.
      I think Dinesh Dodamgoda’s concepts he uses in the article is generally understandable. That is more than enough.

  • 3

    Well said Mr. Dodamgoda. What are President Sirisena’s advisers doing? Or simply he doesn’t have advisers. He will loose the local authority election and will show his true capacity to run an election.

    This is again will give a way for MR to comeback. Is MR an unavoidable cycle in SL politics? What a shame! The country must move forward with new leaders with a new vision.

  • 2

    People must be getting very bored without any visible criminality in Sri Lankan politics. Why else would be want to discuss President Sirisena’s next term?

    He is the President of the SLFP and we have known even when he contested as the common candidate that it was a seat he would eventually occupy. Where is all this confusion about his motives and everyone else’s expectations.

    Sri Lankan voters have proven twice within one year that they are not as stupid as some like to think they are. We can still make a few good choices, despite having a tendency to do harm unto ourselves, at the urging of miscreants.

    Let us see how the next couple of years progress and then we can see what changes are necessary. If Sirisena does 25% of what he promises and Ranil does another 25% of his promises, I will take the collective 50% as a magnificient achievement.

    I know to separate 25s do not make a 50. Learn to live and let live!

  • 3

    ” Most probably, his next political battle will be against the UNP, the party that supported him to be the President of Sri Lanka.”

    This is what it is looks like. He has seems to have a huge attachement to the party, not to break it up so much as to re-mold it into what he wants.

    Country first, party second? And wither the UNP.

  • 0

    What has to be done is to educate the SLFP vote base to give up their beliefs in confrontation and racism.

    If the president can achieve this he will make a real difference to the future of our Country.

    One way is to remove the idiots from the top of the party.

    Good luck and may the triple gem bless your efforts Mr. President !

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 5 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.