By W. Vishnu Gupta –
All preliminary observations of the election campaign lead to one conclusion; the voters will deliver a “Hung Parliament” on August 5th 2020. The claims made by “Pohottuwa” leader Mahinda Rajapaksa and his faithful former MPs about getting two-third majority or simple majority may not come to fruition due to conflicting stances taken since the election campaign started. All major national parties have failed to differentiate their policies and all leaders seem to have eaten at least a piece of “forbidden fruits” that undermines sovereignty and unitary status of Sri Lanka.
Fortune of “Pohottuwa”
The fortune of goodwill earned from the presidential election has already started to dwindle due to election promises made by the traditional political leadership of “Pohottuwa”. The controversies and suspicion around MCC agreement, Eastern Container Terminal (ECT) agreement, Handling of Karuna Amman’d confession, Back-door approach to Muslim voters and Other Central Bank debacles similar to Bond scam during 2005-2015 have damaged the credibility of “Pohottuwa”. The list of controversial agreements affecting the nation may grow further before the election is concluded on August 5thbut they will be conveniently camouflaged by the RTI act which denies the access to information on international agreements.
The rhetoric and grandstands adopted by individuals such as Weerawansa, Arjuna Ranatunga, Gammanpila, S.B Disanayake , Bandula Gunawardane and Roshan Ranasinghe will continue to harm the prospect of electing a majority government of “Pohottuwa”. It is somewhat shameful for these politicians to make media shows to hoodwink the voters by uttering contradicting statements. For example; Weerawansa vouched to leave politics of “pohottuwa” if MCC agreement is signed by a government controlled by his alliance few days ago. Yet by July 1st, previously held uncompromising position has changed and he will review and look for good parts of MCC acceptable to Sri Lanka. It simply proves, he has very little or no knowledge about bilateral contracts made with a powerful partner. Likewise, it is appalling to watch and read the “pohottuwa’s ” counter arguments about Karuna Amman’s confession and the background of ECT deal of Colombo Harbor. Above and beyond “Pohottuwa” cannot escape from the hidden deals hitherto alleged to have crafted by backstage operators such as Nivard Cabraal.
As a result, it is highly unlikely there will be a majority “Pohohottuwa” lead government; the popular President elected by majority of Sri Lankans will be left to hang-out to dry. What a quirk of fate of the nation.
Luck of “Elephant”
Luck of “elephant” party lead by one of the astute Machiavellian; Ranil Wickremesinghe is no different from “Pohottuwa” lead by MR another Machiavellian. Ranil has lost the support of nearly 90 former MPs known for various excesses. For his luck or the luck of elephant none of those ninety odd MPs have done anything to win the hearts and minds of the traditional “Elephant” party supporters at the grass root level. Amazingly, Ranil or his cabal does not criticize the former President (Maithree)in open forums and they seem to enjoy daily filthy remarks of Arjuna Ranatunga and Roshan Ranasinghe against Maithripala Sirisena. It is a great strategy of RW because such demeaning statements made by leading cohorts of “pohottuwa” definitely contribute to improve the standing of elephant and chipping away the support for a majority government lead by Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Also, it seems Ranil has taken a few lessons from the book developed by MR on how to conduct election campaigns. At the beginning of his campaign, he has visited many Buddhist temples and one cannot stop laughing at the occasion of his visit to Abhayaramaya of Narahenpita. Finally, after losing the faction now represented by Telephone, Ranil’s cabal has made several overtures to very influential and respected Buddhist clergy of this Buddhist nation. It was heartening and refreshing to the voters to watch and read Ravi Karunanayake stating that all Anti-Buddhist” forces have left the “Elephant” party. The grass-root level supporters of D.S Senanayake, Dudley Senanayake may have been waiting for this purification of the party for a long time. Ravi Karunanayake, a Christian making this profound statement may have carefully planned by Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Furthermore, loosing majority of the former elephant-brand MP’s can be regarded as a blessing in disguise. It facilitated and strengthened the hand of elephant leadership to nominate new breed of politicians devoid of corruption.
However, elephant party also cannot escape from the actions of duplicity around MCC Agreement, ECT, Easter Sunday Attack, Central Bank Bond Scam and marriage of convenience with Rishard, Ranjan, JVP, TNA, and Hakeem. Therefore, retention of majority supporters of traditional elephant party supporters along will not provide enough votes to form a majority government and challenge the position of “Pohottuwa”.
Success of “Telephone”
The cabal representing telephone has nothing, especially positive accomplishments to claim to establish their credibility among the majority of voters. The “Telephone” group has been left to engage in a negative political campaign attacking the “Pohottuwa” and “Elephant” gangs. In the campaign trail, the leader of “Telephone” has mentioned so far about what his late father managed to accomplish. His dismal record as the Minister responsible for housing, Samurdhi and his uncanny way of handling Buddhist places of worship and Buddhist archeological sites (Muhudu Vali Maha Viharaya, Kuragala etc..) have left indelible negative image in the minds of majority Sinhala Buddhists. Moreover, Sajith seems to have brought more. Like the other two, he also agrees with “End Justifies the Means” theory.
Surely, ethnocentric politicians (mainly Muslim) will win their respective voter bases and elect at least twelve to fifteen seats in the next parliament but it will not ensure the success of “Telephone” to be a major formidable political party in the country. Leading “telephone” members including founding fathers of the new party have offended Sinhala Buddhists in many occasions; comments made by Rajitha Senarathna, Ranjan Ramanayake, Sarath Fonseka, Thalatha Atukorale and Mangala Samaraweera will not be forgotten by majority Buddhists easily but they will be forgiven. Likewise, the very demeaning remarks about Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith and subsequent justifications made by Harin Fernando, another founder father of “Telephone” party has done an irreparable damage to the relationship with the Catholics in Sri Lanka.
The “telephone” party has not been able to gain any traction or mileage in the political campaign from the comments made by former terrorist leader turned politician Karuna Amman. Sajith and his cabal saw an opening, and made an attempt to gain some political advantage at the expense of “pohottuwa’s” involvement in Karuna’s career. Most likely, they did not expect the swift response from Karuna; Sajith’s father was accused of complicity in an act of treachery (arming the enemy). The former President has armed the terrorist group of Karuna with the intention of destroying IPKF and driving them out, but the “telephone” party should have realized that the same guns and ammunitions would have been used to kill our own soldiers. The political showmanship and grandstanding of Ajith Perera , Sujeeva Senasinghe and other members of the footnote clique either have not had any effect on the voters mainly due to their much sullied political history.
Just like “Pohottuwa” and “Elephant” cabals, the “Telephone” clique cannot escape from the involvement in MCC agreement, ECT deal, CB Bond Scam and Karuna Amman’s confession. Therefore the voters, especially the Sinhala Buddhists and Catholics will not consider “Telephone” cabal as an alternate solution and treat them favorably.
Fate of “Bell”
Based on the negligible achievement of “bell” party in the Presidential election of November 2019, it is highly unlikely the main faction representing the leftist voters will make any difference. At least voters must keep them alive in order to enjoy the presence of its leader with gift of the gab in the parliament of Sri Lanka.
Finally, judging by the claims and counter claims made by all major national political parties, none of them will be able to convince the voters to get the necessary support to form a majority government. It will be a hung parliament filled with many unsavory politicians of the past. Consequently, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will not be able to fulfill the promises he made including a cabinet of ministers limited to thirty and implement his strategy to develop the nation. Corruption and hedonistic practices will prevail for another five years. Hopefully, three Machiavellians dreaming to be the next Prime Minister will be exhausted in the near future and retire from politics forever paving the way for the President to prepare his own team for next time.