By Kumar David –
“The streets are on fire with the chants of fury!”. Were Julie Andrews here today so she would sing in chorus with the people. In every corner of the country, in some demonstration somewhere, on peoples’ lips, every day the chant is the same: “Go Gota Go”. He summoned an All-Party Confabulation; Anura Kumara told him to bugger-off in no uncertain terms, Sajith added his voice, Mano Ganesan and Thondaman followed suit: “What’s the point of talking to him, what can he offer or do, he is finished”. Surely the TNA, Champika and the smaller Muslim and Tamil outfits won’t go unless they have been overtaken by a death wish. The Pissu Sira wing of the SLFP and the 11-Party hoax? Well I don’t know. Finally Gota may well be left all alone to play with himself in a corner, like Vasu. These are truly very strange times.
It looks bad, very bad for President Gotabaya; what can he do? The straightforward solution is to pack up; he has at times shown himself to be indifferent to the trappings of presidential power. The obstacle is the retinue, the hangers on eager for power, privilege and profit. They are distributed in many layers; ex-military brass appointed to positions well above their competence, corporate Chairman and Boards, MPs and former Provincial Councillors fattening themselves in nefarious ways and Viyathmaga pseudo intellectuals. This is not an easy roadblock to circumvent. If nevertheless the President throws in the towel, as he well may and as economic disaster and public anger rage on, then it’s a different constitutionally defined process after that. I find this option attractive because it will certainly spell the end of the Executive Presidency. A dynamic will commence – ask Nihal or Jumpy how it can unfold step by step – but constitutional processes, redefined electoral manifestos and new pledges will be made to do away with EP. I am fairly confident that if Gotha cuts and runs now, EP will be abolished by processes that will happen in the next two or three years.
The other option where the President attempts to hang on to office is fraught with danger. I do not know how many coins Basil has collected in his begging-bowl from India and China and what the IMF may offer by way of rearranging capital-market debt in exchange for fiscal retuning and economic restructuring. But the virus of economic degeneration has penetrated so deep that one can have little confidence that Lanka’s economy will be set right again within say a decade by donations, new debt and restructuring. And aside from economic restructuring, political and social changes on a scale not imaginable at this moment are imperative.
This second option is certainly more troublesome. Would it not be better to go back to a world we know and to hum “Songs we have sung in our parliamentary years”?