16 April, 2024

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How To Stop Ranil’s Constitutional Coup & Counter-Revolution

By Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

It was Engels who coined the phrase “the ironies of history”, taken up and made popular in the 20th century by Isaac Deutscher.

On another occasion, Engels also said something to the effect that revolutionaries wake up to find that the revolution they had made is not the one they had sought to make or thought they were making, and then they have to start all over again to fight for their original cause but under a different banner.

Is that to be the fate or destiny of the Aragalaya? The result will be known in the coming several days.

It is a rich irony that the Aragalaya unwittingly opened the path for the Prime Ministership of Ranil Wickremesinghe, thereby positioning him to assume the Presidency once Gotabaya Rajapaksa was thrown out.

The problem is that the Aragalaya did not think things through politically, did not figure out what Marx called “the line of march”. To be more precise, the Aragalaya’s notion of politics was to do exactly what Marx refused to when he said he would not provide “recipes for the cookshops of the future”.

The Aragalaya projected proposals for the way politics should be after Gota. It overthrew Gota the autocrat but failed to intervene in the politics of the transition or even understand that it was relevant. Now it is faced with the assumption of power by a man who, after the briefest intermission, has returned to his traditional role as the most rightwing, reactionary political figure in the history of post-independence Ceylon/Sri Lanka—arguably outside of Sir John Kotelawala, who was advised by Ranil’s father Esmond Wickremesinghe.

What the Aragalaya produced as politics were utopian proposals for new institutions and Constitutions. These proposals treated Parliament and the political parties with contempt, and presented proposals for solutions outside Parliament. The Aragalaya disdained intervening on the terrain of politics in the concrete; in the balance of forces in the political arena including in parliament.

Now the only way in which the Aragalaya can prevent a counter-revolution or what we may call an Egyptian outcome, is through an intervention in parliamentary politics; the politics of the present parliament—which as it turns out, is hardly ‘outdated’ and surpassed, but is the crossroads of direction, decision and destiny for the country.

On a technicality, Ranil Wickremesinghe can assume office for the rest of Gotabaya’s term. This would go against the entire spirit of the basic law, the Constitution. The spirit of the constitution is democratic republicanism. The sovereignty of the people is the cornerstone.

The assumption is that the executive president is elected by the majority of the people taken as a whole. In case he is removed, then the PM takes over, but here the assumption was that the PM would also be an elected MP who came from the party that had the most seats in Parliament.

The framers of the constitution made a deliberate choice, that unlike in the US system, the cabinet would not consist of those outside the legislature. It is inconceivable that the framers of the Constitution would have endorsed a person whose party did not have a single elected representative in the House and was not even in a coalition with a party that held the majority, as holder of the executive Presidency even in special circumstances.

It is still more inconceivable that they would envisage an unelected person would ascend to the post which is designed to be held by a person who had won over 50% of the vote of the country taken as a whole!

If on a technicality, Ranil is entrenched as the leader of a democratic republic with a directly, nationally elected presidency, it would not only be a travesty of Constitutionalism, it would, more dangerously, give the entire younger generation of Sri Lanka, the message that Constitutions and Constitutionality are a scam; a mode which has enough loopholes to turn upside down the very tenets on which the basic law is founded and make a travesty of democracy itself.

This would leave Revolution the only solution. Given his track record, Ranil would not hesitate to unleash the military lethally against such an uprising. As Myanmar shows, the military cannot prevail over a movement of educated youth if they take to arms, but in Sri Lanka with its collapsed economy, such a cycle of violence will push us over the precipice into state fragmentation and barbarism.

There are two ways to stop it but those have to operate as a pincer. One is a renewed surge of the Aragalaya. Introducing an anthology of Lenin’s writings, the philosopher Slavoj Zizek wrote that “The Revolution Always Rings Twice”. He was referring to the Russian Revolution of 1917 which first overthrew the Tsar (in February) and then Kerensky (in October).

In between February and October 1917, the Revolution had to thwart a military counter-revolution headed by General Kornilov.

Ranil is a combination of Kerensky and Kornilov or a Kerensky masking Kornilov—or more simply, a fusion of the two.

With Gota gone, the Aragalaya will have to fight Ranil, the least representative and most rightwing President we would have.

The Aragalaya will overcome the effects of the terrible clash around the Parliament – the Lankan equivalent of Russia’s premature uprising of July 1917, the ‘July Days’ condemned by Lenin–and the resultant recoil of the Armed Forces away from the people. It will have to win back the armed forces either through a self-criticism or a thorough outing of those responsible of or the violence against the soldiers.

The Aragalaya is indeed a powerful material force but contrary to the Jacobin Left’s supposition, it is not the only “material force” out there; the military is too, and in the sense of “hard power”, even more so.

Secondly and more importantly, the only way to prevent Parliament from rubber-stamping Ranil as President, is to:

(1) De-link the Pohottuwa bloc-vote from Ranil.

(2) Split the Pohottuwa, isolating the Rajapaksa Clan and the pro-Rajapaksa rump-faction which is supporting Ranil.

(3) Support a dissenting Pohottuwa personality such as Dullas Alhapperuma.

(4) Unite all democratic forces in Parliament around a single anti-Ranil candidacy.

(5) That candidacy has necessarily to be from the Pohottuwa, so as not to unite the SLPP bloc in support of Ranil– which means the Opposition has to grasp the principle of ‘tactical voting’ even if they have to hold their nose to do so.

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Latest comments

  • 26
    7

    As I mentioned earlier, it is a responsibility not only Aragalaya but all have to come forward towards the change of the current system which is undemocratic biased. Ranil is the choice of Rajapaksa family to proect them. It now clears RW uses similar techniques as Rajapaksas used to cheat Sinhala masses. The burning of RW is similar to the Easter Bombing by the master mind to come to power.
    We, people should unite to stop him.

    • 23
      0

      DJ has always been against RW. That has nothing to do with srilanken politics, but he did not respect the guy. However, DJ enjoyed a lot being a lapdop of NATION s honey badger MAHINDA RAJAPAKSCHE… for no good reasons.
      .
      Once he would be posted to somewhere, each time was the case sofar, his pseudo patriotism died down.

      These men are reptiles of our GARBAGE DUMPs style srilanken politcs.
      :
      That is how he has been raised by Silva family. May be he is now day dreaming to become the next FM after Sajith becoming his leader….. Sajith s profile is no different to that of MAHA RAJA… or his own father PISSU Premadasa…
      :
      DJ or the like men, that have seen world affairs better, could make a real change in this country, if his GENETICS would have allowed him to do so. Like a blood cancer patient would get the life back after treating him with a full blood transfusion, what is the need of the hour is to rebuild this society before going to next election.

      The proper guidance by profesisonals can provide a paradigm shift in thinking regarding the improvement of awareness about ground realities of the politics

      PEOPLE BADLY NEED PROPER GUIDENCE. We should leave away SAFFRON CLADS preventing them involving in that endeavour.

      • 0
        2

        Leave everything to the Freemasons …….. they always prevail.

        It’s Hail Mary time for Lanka.

        • 4
          1

          If you look at the results Ranil has achieved in his long “illustrious” :)) career ……… he is a monumental idiot who can project the aura of a great-intellect

          Many buy it …….. including myself! :))

          • 6
            1

            Damned if I know. ………. in times like these a million things can go through one’s mind ………

            All I know is, no one gives a fig about the people or the country ……… the “political-class” is just trying to protect the privileges of their “class.” ……. Ranil is their stalwart ……. and his trick is, trying to get everyone to stick to parliamentary “protocol” ……… as if “protocol” prevented the looting of the public-wealth ……. or prevented the beggaring of the nation ……. :))

            People say the young kids of Galle Face Aragalaya have no experience: so what? ……. Rajapakses, Ranil and the rest in the parliament had years of “experience” and this is what they did to the country! That’s how unexamined crap clog our minds! ……. Perhaps the young kids might do better: a wee little bit better ….. Can they do any worse? ……. C’mon speak up ….. anyone game enough to say hmm?

            After revolutions countries recover and find their way ……… so will Lanka ……. how we recover depends on the leaders …….. and I don’t see anyone in sight ……..

      • 8
        0

        “Ranil is a combination of Kerensky and Kornilov or a Kerensky masking Kornilov—or more simply, a fusion of the two.”
        Carrying the fake analogies to a dead revolution further, what would the author’s role in it be? Rasputin?

        • 2
          0

          Rasputin?
          That was to be long ago– but rather diluted.
          Now it is a dream hoped to come true come Wednesday.

          • 2
            0

            SJ,
            I do hope Dr.DJ isn’t suggesting that Sajith is Lenin?

            • 1
              0

              OC
              I doubt if Sajith can sprout a handsome beard.

    • 2
      0

      Mass movement called aragalaya should push the parliament to form an interim government for a limited period and conduct a general election. Also go for electoral reforms, doing away with the executive Presdient and national list, etc. Present focus on electing a new president and PM can fgive false hopes to the people that everything is now hanky panky. Reforms of the political and economic system as well as establishing rule of law, protction of human rights(including in police stations) is very important. Power to detain people by the police without enough evidence for a charge is not suitable for the times. One possibility is that Ranil can be elected with the support of Pody Jana Peramuna to be the next President as this party has a majority. GL will be the foreign minister for life! Ranil will be the defence minister.(Unless PJP vote is split between Ranil and the breakaway group?)

  • 12
    2

    This softy will spoil the soup

    • 11
      1

      C
      That will be if he is an essential ingredient.
      But there are plenty who want Aragalaya to take a long break, for they have not much more to get out of it, and it can prove to be a threat to those who may get into positions power.

      • 3
        0

        Aragalaya made some strategic blunders. The slogan “Gota Go Home’ did not correctly reflect the aspirations of the revolution.

        Gota was only a symptom.

        The objective was system change.

        Ranil in place of Gota is much more dangerous,

        Aragalaya has to redesign their slogan.

        It is no, Ranil Go Home.

        It is all “Rascals Go Home”.

        • 1
          0

          DJ,
          “Split the Pohottuwa, isolating the Rajapaksa Clan and the pro-Rajapaksa rump-faction which is supporting Ranil.?

          Yes it is a innovative strategy. Not to foolishly openly confront Ranil, but to make a subtle guerilla style move, support Dulles and make him win.

    • 13
      4

      “It is still more inconceivable that the ramers of the constitution
      would envisage an unelected person would ascend to the post which is designed to be held by a person who had won over 50% of the vote of the country taken as a whole!”
      I don’t suppose the framers envisaged a situation where the voters are duped into electing an ignorant jackass as president. There is no point arguing over constitutional niceties. Are we to take the antics of the FLSP seriously as Dr DJ seems to suggest?

      • 9
        10

        Old codger, and you were not duped by Ranil ? The jackass Gota appointed ranil as PM ! Another jackass act ?

        Ranil said the Rajapaksas were corrupt and evil ! Who made ranil acting president ? These evil and corrupt people !

        Under what democratic principle can an unelected person become a PM or president ?

        Who has been duped ?

        • 8
          3

          DS,
          “and you were not duped by Ranil ?”
          Since you seem to know so much about it, why not tell us your choice for leader?
          At least I am quite open about who I prefer.
          “Under what democratic principle can an unelected person become a PM or president ?”
          Didn’t “elected” leaders and their dumb electors bring the country to this state?
          My proposal is that people should be allocated voting rights according to the results of a test.

          • 4
            8

            And you think you will score high in that test ?

            From the way you have been supporting Ranil , I think both in intelligence as well as standards you will be struggling at this test.

            You think there is only ranil to lead us ? You again fail. Give others a chance, No to this serial failure

            • 3
              1

              DS,
              Aren’t you intelligent enough to answer the question?
              You are a Rajapaksa slave, but too cowardly to admit it.

          • 2
            2

            My proposal is that people should be allocated voting rights according to the results of a test.
            OC, can that be extended to commenting here?
            I realize that I am at risk, but sanity is assured.

            • 3
              0

              SJ,
              “can that be extended to commenting here?”
              But don’t you think CT would lose much of its entertainment value?

              • 1
                2

                Sad but true.

              • 1
                0

                OC, I for sure don’t want to see SJ gone.

      • 3
        3

        Ranil was not only unelected, but contested and defeated

  • 5
    4

    It is evident that youth who consists of high percentage of Protestors do like right-wing Ranil. He is a cunning politician. He has the support of the western world and India. There is a split in SLPP if that SLPP member who do not like Ramil becoming president there are the following options
    1. Sajith President Algaghpeuma PM
    2. Sarath Fonseka president and Sajith PM Defence forces may like this proposal
    3.Aagaperuma President and Sajith PM

    Have elections within one year.

  • 7
    1

    DJ, Ranil has been in the political twist for too long for him to unravel himself to have compassion on the suffering masses. On the other hand, aragalaya youth have not experienced the true reality of Karl Marx and Das Kapital, when Marx escaped to London and was poor and died there, buried in Highgate cemetery with periodic grave tragedies. If the revolution always rings twice, is not the solution to this aragalaya, a drastic expelling of the evil leader, like what happened to Gotha and family too. Let each be on his own selfish journey with its consequences, but do make the post of president defunct, thus removing a huge obstacle and giving a quick result, a real transformation or what they call as a system change. Tactical voting is worth it.

  • 8
    3

    SL constitutions are drawn by people who are not able to see beyond the next election and DJ using term like ‘framers’ who drew a constitution for eternity are not comparable. Be that as it may, I am agreeing with DJ for the first time that fox Ranil wants to uphold the constitution when it suits him and whatever achieved so far will be negated if Ranil is anywhere near the government.

  • 16
    2

    Why is no journalist, commentator, nor national and international news outlet exposing the financial interests and corporatized property of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces, that was enabled with the complicity of the Rajapakse Mafia– the resorts, hotels, properties and agricultural l lands in the Northeast and East of the country? Isn’t this entrepreneurial military part of the economic corruption? What quantities of petrol, food, medicine, along with their teargas and water cannons are the Armed Forces hoarding? The Rajapaksa oligarchy introduced the Chinese business-entrepreneurial model of the Sri Lankan military (also the power structure in Egypt) whose generals will defend their spoils of war with the lives of the protestors.

  • 11
    17

    For 30 odd years this rascal Ranil has been telling the UNP followers that the Rajapaksas were evil and corrupt. They were killers and rogues he insunated.

    The UNP followers accepted all this and fought the PA in the villagers , got hammered , even died.

    Now this same ranil is in bed with the Rajapaksas and has become president with PA votes including MR, Namal etc.

    The country has been taken for fools by Ranil

    • 5
      1

      deepthi silva,
      You should understand that Sri lankan politics is a power sharing politics assuming that people are fools whether it is Sinhalese or Tamils or Muslims. They tell all lies to the people to cheat them but in real life they are one close family. They are doing the same for 75 years and people go like sheeps in a farm and finally the sheeps are killed by them as food. They have done thousands of crimes including murders and both UNP and SLFP have governed alternatively but none of the crimes are brought to justice. You know when Sirisena moved one party to other to get President, he told us that Rajapaksas have planned to kill him but later they were together. They openly robbed the nation and still in power. What can you do? All new who attacked Aragalaya in 9th June? Where are the attckers? They are still in power. Even now, people are powerless. They are going to do the same again.They will not allow any change. They are always powerful.

  • 5
    10

    “How to stop Ranil W……..”. There is only ONE way to do it. The “ARAGALAYA” must issue a “DECRY” and state without any reservations to all the sitting Members of Parliament:- ” If Ranil W is appointed Actg. President for the remaining period of tenure of office of the President, ALL those who voted for him would be DEBARRED from visiting their respective electorates”.

    This suggestion may not be welcoming to “Democrats” (Social Activists, Legal Luminaries, etc, etc..) but in Sri Lanka, it is a “DIFFERENT BALL GAME” as recently shown by Ex-President Gotabaya Rajapakse in appointing Ranil W to be the PM, an MP who even could not win a seat in Parliament and a lonely MP entered through the “Back-Door”. Was there any “DISGRACE” to Democracy than that? So, why continue to rely on this FAKE DEMOCRACY practiced without any shame in Sri Lanka?

  • 14
    3

    DJ
    When you say the soverignity of the people, do you takeit it means only the Singhalese?
    Tamil speaking citizens in SL has have had ENOUGH of ill-treatment by the Singhalese over many decades. Tamils would like to live in a United states of SL.We do not want an ineffective Provincial councils. PC are waste of tax payers money we shall have the N&E of SL one state and the rest together forms another. We do hope for a Canadian system of rule for SL.

    • 0
      0

      This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.

      For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

    • 5
      2

      “We do hope for a Canadian system of rule for SL.”
      What is the Canadian system like?
      Native English speakers on top, native French speakers a little below, and the real native “First Nations” nowhere.
      The Asian immigrants are simply insensitive to the plight of the people whose land and livelihood were robbed by force.
      This mentality is true of those who migrated to Canada, Australia and the US.
      Concessions of minimal political substance thrown at them are enough for them to sing the glory of the oppressor.

      • 3
        2

        And your / Lankan mentality ????

        • 0
          0

          Sad, seems like it hit the right spot.
          *
          Frankly, it was not aimed at any individual.

  • 1
    2

    Stopping Evil ascending to the chair is not possible, at this late. It is inconceivable to write campaign materials outside of parliament and make the 8th graders to vote against Evil inside the parliament. The Evil selecting process is secret voting. Electorates cannot influence their MPs, who are dedicated to milk free lunch and gas from peoples’ sufferings. These, under 8th grade graduates, never heard the word “Future of the country”. They want their pension ensured. Parliament is the supreme curse fed and brought up by Sinhala Buddhist Intellectuals, like the ram for the temple sacrifice. Protestors wanted the universal system to go. But the double agents like Thero, in the mid of the game, put enough muscle to save the parliament and get rid of Gothapayal. Gothapayal is not the whole of Sinhala Intellectualism. Sinhala Intellectual politics becomes complete only after the parliament is added to Evil Emperor, Rowdy Mahinda, Gothapayal, Thero de Silva, GLP, Dhammika, Communist Pakkaya, Ganapathipillai, Lemon Puff Veeraya like all others. These guys started a campaign that if the parliament goes, that will create anarchy. So, the Evil Emperor and Rowdy Mahinda and the parliament are preserved, only Gothapayal is temporarily out of the Country. Evil Ranil, who was chased away by people, is back in the seat because of those opponents of dismantling the parliament. He will have soon added Rowdy Mahinda too.

  • 5
    2

    Should we not recall at this juncture that on May 1st afternoon in the year 1993, there was a smooth transition to a fresh beginning after the tragic end to the incumbent President? Who accomplished it? The architect was Ranil Wickremasinghe, who was a Cabinet Minister with 20 plus years in the legislature and around two decades in the Cabinet. Now he has had 30 more years to enrich his credentials. As Prime Minister he has had at least 5 terms. It is experience that makes a leader.
    Such a personage does not wait for chance to knock at the door. He steps forward at the nation’s call and responds. This is what has happened.
    England had to wait for 46 years to get her bloodless revolution. Ireland had to suffer 9 times more years, to supersede economically, her oppressor Great Britain. French Revolution was one century behind England to have her bloody revolution. Sri Lanka is trying to stretch her platter with impatience, breaking the line of destiny..
    In the Russian Revolution, Lenin who returned from exile in England in mid 1917, announced that Russians were in no mood for a revolution. A month later he declared that Russia was ripe for revolution. Came November and he had decided on the 7th as the date for the insurrection to break out.

  • 3
    1

    DJ

    This is your chance with the foolish son of Preme. Let us see how long you and your family will last in about 3-4 months. Keep gloating while the water is boiling in your pot. You will deserve all you get.

  • 0
    0

    They should do some kind of electoral voting from the seats in parliament. A given equation, acceptable to all, should be produced so parties with lesser seats are given greater parity numbers. This is imperative for national interest, considering the total failure of the Potthuwa party that has brought the country to total ruin. In truth, it should be one representative from each party that should vote for interim president.

  • 4
    14

    Aragalaya cannot win without the support of the military. MaRa/Gota hit for six in 2009. What are the odds the military will give in to a 25 year old jobless bugger? If Ranil cannot govern, the military will take over the country under the auspices of Gota or MaRa. There are ways to physically crush this movement, the military has gathered the necessary intelligence. That would be the last resort. Aragalaya is slowly disintegrating. It will wither away quickly if/when fuel shipments arrive.

  • 1
    0

    Ranil has conveniently side-tracked the long standing demand of abolition of Executive Presidency with a watered down 19th amendment.

    This is a classic betrayal.

    This is like changing the pillows for headache!

    • 3
      0

      “Ranil has conveniently side-tracked the long standing demand of abolition of Executive Presidency with a watered down 19th amendment.”
      Was it only him? What about his partners? What about the Official opposition? What about the unofficial but real opposition?
      Everyone with a dream to be President want the post to exist.

  • 0
    1

    The SELECTION of our new PM and President for the INTERIM GoSL should NOT BE by BALLOTING in the Parliament( almost Sri Lankans do NOT TRUST nearly all the current parliamentarians). it should be a consenses one. I would like ERAN WICREMARATNA as President and Rasamanickam as PM for the
    INTERIM GoSL.
    ARAGALAYA movement and sensible Sri Lankans will have no objections to this proposal!!!

  • 0
    0

    Ranils Back door approach made him the man savior to rajapash family, In order to be the best, you have to be around the best. Ranil join the wrong people to do best for them ( Elan Kanawa ) The control of the people is the dominant

  • 3
    0

    DJ describes Ranil’s elevation as PM as an irony. The PM position was offered to both Sajith and Anura Kumara and they virtually declined. Hence the ironical choice. The country was mismanaged to the extent of having shortage of essentials. This was an excellent platform for a protest, the self motivation for participation being the shortages. Now the “masterminds” knew make the theme short and sweet “Gota Go Home”. Had they put forward a plan after Gota then that itself would have distracted some. The unbound anger had to be made use of. With that all sorts of parties hijacked the movement to their own end resulting in action clearly being outside the scope of a peaceful struggle. But will all that help is to get our fuel, gas and electricity? NO!

  • 0
    0

    DJ, Wipe off this controversial Executive presidency and nominate Sajith as the Prime Minister so he could build houses after urgently eliminating the queues that the robbing family created.

    • 1
      0

      “after urgently eliminating the queues”
      When may that be?

  • 1
    1

    If Ranil is made the president, it will be another disaster and troublesome for the ordinary people, especially the younger and more educated folks who will suffer for a long time. The parliamentarians, most of them uneducated and old aged, would support the present regime to continue unabated. Rajapaksas’ family conniving with Ranil will destroy the country into over-dependent on foreign powers and all of them would play the same game again.

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