By Helasingha Bandara –
Notwithstanding all the shortcomings, people still believe that Maithri is leagues ahead of Mahinda in his sincerity, humility, wish to restore democracy, law and order and help the poor. Although he has regained some of his credibility after his recent speech, he must realise that he has made big mistakes and likely to make some more if he does not follow his good heart. Being aware of MR’s undignified personality and the political cunning, friends and well wishers have warned MS of likely manoeuvres of MR. They have suggested countermeasures. MS does not seem to have a panel of readers to gather daily information and pass the most important suggestions and advice to him. The time is ripe for him to involve such a strategy if he intends to survive the five years. This writer suggested the right actions in an article on 26 February entitled “New Regime Should Not Commit Hara-kiri“. That was written soon after the new regime came to power and at the very early stages of Mahinda’s manipulations to get back to power. Just before MR was allowed to contest the elections, another article was published on 20th of June entitled “Maithri Should Sack Them All” followed by “Who Is In A Dilemma”. All those articles highlighted one principle that is to do the right thing without hesitation. People know what is right and reward the right actions.
Mistakes of the common alliance
The UNP thought it could capitalise on a potential split of the UPFA into Maithri and Mahinda factions. The JVP thought that all anti Mahinda SLFP vote would go to them in the absence of a Sirisena faction emerging to contest the election. Maithri did not have the vision to sack all of them who wanted to go along with Mahinda and form a new SLFP with a new breed of respectable aspiring politicians. The ideal strategy to defeat Mahinda’s aspiration to return to power could have been a united front of all those parties that worked together to defeat Mahinda at the Presidential election. In Sri Lanka, nothing can beat the power hunger of each and every one who is involved in politics. Such greed and power struggle between parties and individuals leave the voter in the lurch. The SLFP supporters who voted against Mahinda have now been left with a serious dilemma as to whom to vote for. Some of them cannot vote for the UNP and they are left without options.
Cunning or straightforwardness
MS’s speech was full of innuendos about his political cunning in order to achieve some promises he made before Jan 8 elections. Had he done the right thing rather than being politically cunning he could have been in a better position to save the Jan 8 achievements. For example, he said he needed to get the support of the majority of UPFA MPs to get the 19th amendment passed, which was one of the promises. He did not need to. If he warned the MPs that he would reveal who would not support such progressive amendments he would have still got the required support. Similarly, when some people threatened to part company with him he should have let them all go and appoint clean people to head SLFP constituencies. The new people would not have any difficulty to win as people in general are waiting for the emergence of clean, respectable, decent young people to become parliamentarians. Rajapaksa and the clan could have been driven into oblivion easily because people know that the people around Rajapaksa have only one thing in their minds: that is to benefit themselves, their families and cronies from the corrupt political environment that MR has endorsed.
None of the politicians who support MR can be identified as principled people. At the Jan 8 elections most of them remained on the fence to go with the tide. Some of those who did not openly support Mahinda at the Presidential election have come forward this time hoping the tide may turn in MR’s favour. Almost all of the politicians in Sri Lanka, irrespective of party affiliations, are opportunistic rather than principled. Their understanding of politics is completely skewed that they think politics is a job in which quick bucks can be earned without much difficulty and without any educational, professional and social qualifications.
Although it needed a lot of patience to listen to the politicians who spoke at the Anuradhapura UPFA rally, this writer listened to full speeches of Sarath N. Silva, Gammanpila, Vasu, Tissa, Weerawansa and Mahinda himself. None of them spoke one word about policies, about their past mistakes, how they have been reformed, how they are going to stop all corruption and other antisocial activities and so on. They all gave the usual no substance firework speeches (Mal wedi Katha) repeating that MR saved the country from the Tigers and calling the opponents names, the usual sing song that went on the rallies of Mahinda at the past election. It was Sri Lanka voters who sent Mahinda home not the Americans or the Indian as the speakers insinuated. I must add that when Sarath Silva spoke I felt like asking “umba reddak andagenada kathakaranne”. The cultural interpretation is where is your shame, dignity, respect and so on to change your stance that often and regularly.
My father used to say “minihek unama kelin ley thienna oone” (to be a real man one should have straight blood). As a child, I had always wondered how can blood be straight. I now understand the meaning. Even if you have a good heart, if you do not have that so called straight blood you do not have the courage to act on your instinct. MS is a strong case in point.