By Kumar David –
It’s a long game and the stages are (a) the SLPP and Gota fall short of a 2/3 majority on 25 April, (b) Sajith’s gang get enough parliamentarians, who added to the SLPP are sufficient to deliver the constitution amending majority, and (c) Mahinda agrees to the final version of a proposed 20A. The fly in the ointment is (c). My ball-park expectation is 120 for the SLPP and 50 for Sajith; nirvana is 150. I will explore Mahinda’s concerns at the end, but let’s do Gota and Sajith first. Gotabaya has made it amply clear that he wants a full-force executive presidency and he wants pestilential 19A scrapped. He will pay what it takes to get his way. The only force that can help him ascend to nirvana is Sajith if my numbers game is roughly right. What’s in it for Sajith? Let’s not have a shadow of doubt that Sajith will turn traitor to 19A if the price is right. Sajith, Ranil the UNP/SJP have as many principles as MR/GR and the SLPP have, and that’s scraping the bottom of the barrel.
Sri Lanka is one of the very few presidential systems without a Vice President. Why? Because JR and his spittoon-carrying tie-and-lipstick wearing class, including Gamini and Lalith, did not want to elevate socially spurned father-Premadasa to this exalted office. Now the son may be able to cut a deal and push his way forward. Given a chance he will do it with the speed of greased lightening. Neither Sajith nor Ranil can be trusted to stand for democracy or give it priority over their personal benefits. Have you wondered why all these months Sajith and Ranil have done nothing to expose the government’s militarising of the state and corporations and its undercutting of CID investigation of murders (Lasantha, Thajudeen and Ekneligoda) by taking away files, and making crassly nepotistic corporate appointments? The CID officer handling MIG-27 the misappropriation of $7.8 million has been removed so the prosecution is left high and dry. A string of cases accusing political allies are being scuttled. CID investigators are being thwarted at every step by Commissions of Inquiry and military interference. Repeated SL Air scams that cost the country countless billion of rupees are the talk of the town but swept under the carpet by both GR-MR and yahapalana. The GR recruited 46,000 youth for “training” (now anesthetised by the Election Commission). Training for what? The EC is barking up the wrong tree; this is no election backhander; it is the first step in forming Gota’s Brown-Shirt Brigade. Tax-collection has been turned into pluperfect chaos; the exchequer is flabbergasted. The list goes on and on. Sri Lanka is half way to becoming a military regime and Gota notwithstanding, an inefficient one at that.
My point is not these transgressions per se, but why Ranil and Sajith, with this cache of dynamite in their hands to blast the government are doing nothing of the sort? They are letting GR and MR get away without even a rap on the knuckles. Why, why, why? Don’t they want to win as many seats as possible? The answer to me is obvious, they have cut a deal. With an arsenal of biting censures that can used to expose GR/MR in hand, Sajith and Ranil are dovish. Most likely they have cut two deals. What Sajith wants from Gota for being Judas to 19A may be a VP-ship and what Ranil wants from Mahinda is to get off the bond-scam hook and be left in peace to enjoy his whisky, official car, petrol and security detail on government account.
The fly in the ointment is Mahinda and the Mahinda wing of the SLPP, its majority. Creation of a VP position expands power sharing at the top to a three-legged stool; P, VP and PM. For what conceivable reason would Mahinda countenance demotion to ceremonial number three when de facto, among SLPP parliamentarians and Sinhala-Buddhists at large, he is still number one? Secondly, inserting an interloper into a Vice Presidency threatens the future of ambitious of his numbskull progeny and clan and family greed. It is difficult to predict at this moment exactly what form of conspiracy will take shape if Gota cannot muster a two-thirds majority on his own. The details will emerge after 25 April.
The JVP-NPP is the only force in the South that is outside this wheeling and dealing. However, it does not seem to have the imagination or the propaganda fire-power to bring this Sajith-Ranil silently concocted with GR-MR conspiracy into full public view. The elections are just over a month away; it’s time to drag all that GR, MR, Sajith and Ranil are concealing from the people into the daylight. Wake up comrades!