By P.Bertie Ranaweerage –
According to recent news reports including the Colombo Telegraph Mr. Tiran Alles, MP and Mr.Kili Raja Mahendran, Chairman of Maharaja company have been instrumental in forging unity between Ranil and Sajith faction. Venerable Kirama Ananda Thera, Head of the Eksath Bhiksu Peramuna, a Front of Buddhist priests , affiliated to the UNP, accused that a big shot (a dignitary) of the government was behind the whole exercise.
Mr. Tissa Attanayake ,MP and Secretary General of the UNP admitted that he had been having talks with Alles and Kili Raja Mahendren in relation to the appointing of Mr. Sajith Premadasa, MP, as the deputy leader of the UNP.
Ven. Ananda Thera must have his reasons to make such a strong allegation that a dignitary of the government was behind the unity between the two factions of the UNP.
Why is Mr.Alles who backed the President to the hilt in 2005 Presidential Election and being a close confident of the President since then ,so much interested in forging unity between Ranil and Sajith?
Why did a government dignitary want to make the UNP stronger by getting Tiran and Maharaja to play the role of bridging the divide of the UNP on the eve of the Presidential Election?
My belief is it is a part of the strategy plotted by the government for the victory of the incumbent President and defeat of Mr. Ranil Wicremesinghe at the next Presidential Election and most importantly to wipe out the threat of the common candidate.
The government including the President himself must have been well aware of the danger posed for the UPFA candidate by the common candidate at the Presidential election. They must have seen the possibility of its candidate’s defeat in a contest even with a less known common candidate by the electorate such as Rev. Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thera. They must have seen the certain defeat of Mahinda in case Chandrika becomes the common candidate as she can bag at least 25% of SLFP votes irrespective of her weaknesses in some areas .
Alarmed top rung of the SLFP must have gathered to discuss the new developments and prepared a strategy not only counter the threat of the common candidate but also to pave the way for the victory of the incumbent President.
My view is the best card that lay on the table was to prop up Ranil to counter the threat of the common candidate. They knew very well that poor Ranil who will not be a threat to Mahinda, would be the candidate of the UNP at the PE in case there is unity in the UNP. They might have calculated that Sajith would support the common candidate in a situation where there is no unity in the UNP. They further knew the JVP which played a vital role in Mahinda’s campaign in 2005 for his victory, would field their own candidate demoralizing the UNPers when Ranil contests as the UNP candidate in the Presidential Election. And they knew it would be an uphill task for the UNP to win the coalition partners of the government such as the Muslim Congress and Thondaman’s CWC when Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe is the Presidential candidate of the UNP.
By propping up Ranil, the government has effectively annihilated the prospect of a common candidate that would have posed the biggest threat to the incumbent President at the future election which will be held sooner than later possibly within the first three months in 2015. Under these circumstances provided Rev. Sobhitha Thera contests with the support of a few insignificant political parties as the so called common candidate he would end up in the third place far behind Ranil in the election.
So far the UNPers have been unable to grasp that they are being led to a well planned defeat by the shrewd strategists of the government. My advice to the UNP is not to get trapped in the government snare and support the common candidate at the Presidential election. The Common President can appoint Mr. Wicramasinghe, Mr. Sajith Premadasa and a few UNPers together with UPFA leaders to top Ministerial positions under a care taker government or a Provisional Government until General Elections are held under a new constitution. Will the UNP listen to saner counsel or embrace the defeat?
*P.Bertie Ranaweerage – Former president of Ceylon Teachers’ Union