Many believe that the next Presidential election will be held at the end of this year or within the first four months of 2015. Everybody who is interested in politics knows that the incumbent President will contest for the third time. Now the question is who is going to be the common candidate to challenge Mahinda?
Will Chandrika challenge President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the next presidential election?
Will Chandrika be the common candidate of the Opposition?
Or will Rev. Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thera be the choice of the Opposition?
At a press conference held recently She denied the rumors that she was going to contest at the forthcoming Presidential election in spite of the requests she has received from various political parties. In the same breath she said nothing is permanent.
Students of politics know that politicians throughout the world lie and Chandrika is not an exception.
And she has reasons to deny of her candidature too.
She won all the elections she contested , from provincial council election to Parliamentary elections to Presidential election and was elected President of Sri Lanka twice .Hence she will not contest at the future Presidential election unless she feels her victory is well guaranteed. She knows well that to retire from politics defeated ,will damage her international repute she enjoys at present and further more it will be the beginning a witch hunt.
Yet she has been active during the past few months visiting friends, participating in various functions and funerals. Her recent involvement in giving leadership to a forum for promoting religious harmony has aroused much interest in many political circles .Is it the first step she took towards active politics?
There are grounds to believe that her political enemies in the government are scared of her coming out of a political cocoon. The merciless attack launched by the Daily News recently on her in connection with her involvement in promoting religious harmony, speaks for itself
My belief is that she will probably contest at the next Presidential election only if she is assured of the support of the UNP, the TNA, the Muslim Congress, the JVP, the DNA , and most importantly ,the unstinted support of the powerful dissidents of the SLFP.
We cannot expect a candidate from the UNP at the next Presidential election as it is becoming weaker and weaker by the day due to internal conflicts, infightings, mudslinging and divisions in the party. Its members as well as organizers are so demoralized that the UNP has been unable to get even a few thousand of UNPers to Colombo to demonstrate against the government in the recent past.
In case the former military commander Sarath Fonseka decides to contest at the next Presidential election he is very much unlikely to win as he will have to fight a lonely battle as the UNP and the JVP are unlikely to support him again as both the parties have learnt bitter lessons by supporting him at the last Presidential election. It is politically better for him and for his political party not to contest rather than to contest and lose. As such I do believe that he will support Chandrika if she contests as the common candidate.
Then , what about Rev. Maduluwave Sobhitha Thera? Will he contest?
According to a news item published in the ‘Sunday Leader’ recently the Thera has been asked to contest as the common candidate.( The news item did not mention who had made the request) He has further told the reporter that he had held discussions with regard to his candidature with some political parties and he will take a decision in the future.
One has to admit that the Tamil and Muslim political parties are suspicious of Buddhist religious leaders as they are considered pro Sinhalese ,let along playing any role in national reconciliation. Due to numerous attacks on non Buddhist religious places led by yellow thugs during the last couple of years, Tamil and Muslim political parties will never ever think of supporting Rev. Sobhitha Thera however much he seems to be a good candidate. The Sinhala Catholics/ Christians too will think twice before casting their votes for a Buddhist priest. Even racist priests will campaign for Mahinda not for Rev. Sobhitha Thera. Mahinda’s supporters would say during the campaign that the LTTE or TNA will form a separate government in the North if a priest becomes the President simply because a Buddhist priest cannot order armed forces to kill terrorists.
Under the above circumstances, it is obvious that there is no any other prominent personality in the political landscape other than CBK who can command support of the majority of political parties, dissident SLFPers and civil organizations.
Some criticize her for not doing enough for the country during her rule from 1994 to 2005. Her supporters would say she liberated the Jaffna peninsula from the LTTE. And her supporters would say that she did her level best to introduce a much better constitution which had provisions to abolish the executive Presidency and to devolve meaningful powers to the North and East as a peaceful solution to the ethnic question. Her supporters further would say that there were no attacks on non Buddhist religious places during her 11 year rule.
In the event Chandrika re-enters the political arena as the common candidate with the support of the majority of political parties and the dissidents of the SLFP she has to present a revolutionary action plan which convinces the electorate that this time she means business.
Her priority should be to abolish the executive Presidency within a period of two years by means of a new constitution .
And her next step should be to abolish the proportional representation electoral system through which corrupt businessmen, rapists, heroin dealers , uneducated fools and thugs and yellow racists became the representatives of people in local government councils, provincial councils and Parliament whose sole objective is nothing but earning money by hook or by crook. It is only a couple of months ago Mangala said that a lot of Members of Parliament earn money through drug business.
Her job does not end there. Through a new constitution she has to restore democracy, rule of law and independence of judiciary and find a lasting solution to the ethnic question.
But we know the man in the street does not vote merely for democracy, rule of law, good governance, independence of judiciary and a lasting solution to the ethnic problem. He will vote for the candidate who he thinks will give him a square meal.
It is up to the Opposition to present a well thought out action plan to heal the country in case they decide to put forward madam Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga as the common candidate at the next Presidential election to challenge the incumbent President who still seems to be popular.