25 February, 2018


Mahinda – As Messiah?

By Suren Rāghavan

Dr. Suren Rāghavan

Mahinda has won. Statics of 44.46% is never an indicator of the density of the people’s political will. Now he is even more powerful than in post January 2015. Because in a post state world order in a country that tries to negotiate postwar-ontological anxieties no policy is valid. No project is delivering. From Trump to Markel to Modi it is a person who people are willing to look up to. Liberal political theorists may still disagree in their lofty analysis over a glass of wine. However, the reality especially the South Asia political cultural reality is that we seek an individual who could deliver no matter how great or not the guiding principles are. World famous Time magazine said only a 15% chance of Trump winning just 48 hours before the election but confessed the chances were as high as 90% on the night of the election. That how far the liberals have lost the reality world over. Voters did not defeat the Yahapālana. They in fact defeated the lack of it or the bogus gang mascaraing in the pretext of such good governance ideology. Sinhala Buddhist voters have taken a political punishment on themselves. They knowingly the danger of repeat of a Rajapaksa regime have still voted because they wanted to punish Ranil and the repugnant crony Royalists mob who neither have a sense of the deep concerns of the rural south nor the ability to stand the rigours scrutiny that is demanded by the modern market based open democracy. Instead Mahinda provides the Messianic hope to the largely Sinhala Buddhist constituencies and their societal sub-consciousness at least in words. The three years record of the Maithri-Ranil rule is one of the least performing instead largely problem creating first three years of any government in Sri Lanka in the known memory. There is no Prabhakaran or his terror squads to kill these VVIPs. There was no EU or Geneva that was waiting to invade us in different forms. There were no Mahanaayakas threatening to burn themselves, Except for the SAITM faded jeans drama once in 2 months. Champika the mike hero surrendered and slept for full three years in his dream of becoming the next PM. The official opposition – Sampanthan became even more smooth and sober and never challenged the government on any single issue. In summery the Maithri-Ranil rule was one without a single contender.

However, it is this easy-fancy front foot stand that gave Ranil and his royal round to be ultra-insensitive and unlimitedly arrogant about the state and its management. If not who on a drunk day dream will appoint a foreigner like Arjuna Mahendran and let him rob a Central Bank over the phone. Ranil still defends Arjuna even while a Presidential Commission has proved that he let his son-in-law do a shady deal. This is in parallel to the claimed 18 billion robed by Mahinda- as according to non-other than the finance minister Mangala Samaraweera. Not a single person had been convicted or punished even after 1000 days had gone. The Sinhalas know and remember well. They remember 1971 and 1988, that is why they don’t vote for a JVP which still refuses to accept and confess that killing their own school teacher and native doctor was more Khmer Rouge tribalism than Marxism. In the same way they also remember the terror politics and the abysmally dictatorial Rajapaksa clang and their goonies. Still they traded off a better/smart robbery to a weak and unproductive robbery because in the previous one at least they received the opportunity to go home in Matara in 90 minutes has as never happened in the entire history of Lanka.      

True-democrats and minorities like me are worried, because we are a double or even tribble minorities. We oppose the rogues of capitalist market, extreme ethno-nationalists in the south as well as the extreme Tamil Nationalists who seems to be merging in the north. Because the hidden extreme ethno-nationalists who are gravitating around the hope of bringing Gotabaya as their leader in 2020 will surely make this platform to launch a neo-racist agenda that promises to win more voted in a 2020 election. Knowing him – and his total (in)ability to give leadership to any new process, Maithri will be tempted and compete with that Sinhala racism to win more votes and the JVP will struggle whether to embrace modernist or remain where they are.

All these are a seriously emerging signs of a terminal ill democracy like ours. This election though I doubt it will bring any structural changes in the immediate time frame shows very clearly that Sri Lankan democracy is imprisoned between the crony capitalists and an ontologically insecure Sinhalaness leaving the possibility of a modern pluri-nation state – a dream only good as a dream. What Ranil did in the last three years is to deeply bury the possibility of the Sinhala South ever entering the modern democratic political space.

Maithri to establish his statesmanship could sack Ranil and his government and call for an early general election and let Mahinda test his ground and deal with the outcome as he has only two more years in that seat ever. Even if he goes back on his word and contest for a second term he will be defeated in style. Unfortunate – He knows but not his advisors.

The next foundational sociopolitical question that remain is Can we ever make Mahinda a moderate democrat? If not what are our options left? I hope those who desire democracy will deliberate such delicate debates without much delay and as urgent as possible. Because our civilisational question should be not who wins the next government but how shall we live then better?

*Dr Suren Rāghavan PhD is a Resident Research Scholar at the Department of History, University of Colombo, can be reached at raghavansuren@gmail.com

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Latest comments

  • 6

    The traditional definition of management is getting work done through people, but
    the yahapalana lacked the real management, is the developing people through work.
    successful leadership today is influence/outgrowth, not authority.

    • 11

      Certainly Mahinda is a Mess Aiyah.

  • 12

    Maithree and Ranil has to blame their inaction and inability for the debacle. First they cheated the Masses to win the elections, then they cheated Mahinda and Co. and finally they cheated themselves.

    • 0

      What can u expect from two puffs ?

      Just pus wedi.

  • 1

    God wanted this outcome. So God delivered. God made Rosy a Born Again the Mayor with help from Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist voters. God has a plan. MR is listening to God. God will do what is good for our nation and deliver it from false religions and false politicians.

  • 4

    Thank you for a refreshing opinion. Very interesting. This was indeed a local event. So not sure if all the sides either braying or fearing a similar result in a general election are well founded in reality. But then again, some of us predicted that there was distinct possibility that Trump will win in these columns! The learned intellectual types(self appointed) scoffed. I had a feeling based on the enthusiasm of his base. Also I wrote how Black enthusiasm was less for Hillary. So we have a Tweeting mad narcissistic man in charge of the world’s most powerful nation and a finger on the nuclear button. He has assaulted and insulted professional services like the CIA and FBI; he attacks the media relentlessly like a Mussolini; he insults people daily; he lies daily; he attacks the judiciary like some of the MR people used to do. He has sown the seeds of white nationalism. Yet his base loves him. The more outrageous he becomes more they love him. Yes this is in the USA. So what can anyone say about Sri Lanka?

  • 5

    Thery cheated the masses, then they cheated the CB & EPF fund, cheated on Coal purchase, trying to build the Kandy highway in Gold…………..
    Kiriwalla who was a Perera has inherited 1500 acres of ancestral wealth and become a kandyan…

  • 4

    Obama only won 43% of the White votes in 2008
    In 2012 that went down to 39% and that is just overall. In some states that mattered he won more. But in the deep south the percentage of whites who voted for him was extremely low. It does not matter in the US system because it is on the Electoral college system. None of the Southern Confederate states mattered when he won the bigger more populous states. But in 2016, black people did not turn out at the same high(95% in 2008; 93% in 2012 and for Hillary at only 88%) and that mattered in the States that mattered. When she lost Michigan, Pa, Wisconsin, she not only lost she lost her argument though she got almost 3 million more popular votes. So the UNP does not need to engage in breast thumping yet. They have a 35% base among Sinhalese. Add to that the minorities who will vote for them at the same percentages as the Black voters for Obama and they can stil win in 2020. That is unless the LTTE types boycott or put a protest candidate who cannot win, but will take away the guaranteed Tamil vote from the UNP. CWC holds the key for any potential Presidential candidate and deals will have to be struck with them. Last time they went overwhelmingly to the UNP too.

  • 2

    SLPP got its support selling “Even considering a political solution to the minorities problem is a betrayal”. The infamous Lankan problem is goldmine . The losers are the ordinary Lankans but the carpet baggers will take the produce.
    By the way Suren, Tamils are struggling to survive. They cannot forget the various pogroms. Why do you call them “Tamil Nationalists”?

  • 2

    To attribute just one factor to the success of the SLPP cannot be right.
    Sadly, many Tamils attach much weight to it, but there were other things that mattered, besides the bungling by the “Yahapalanaya” regime and the growing infighting.
    For example, some months before the elections there was a serious shortage of fertiliser which hurt cultivator and consumer alike. I think that matters like that make a bigger difference to the voter than the national question.

  • 3

    MR is a pragmatist, a populist and certainly not a racist. He is the most viable partner that the North can negotiate with (VP tried to screw MR when MR extended his hand and what happened is history. But it was not racially motivated at all). If he is convinced, MR can carry the majority with him. Of course the foremost condition of removing the sense of insecurity is a must. TNA and their appendage NPC have utterly failed in that. TNA being the official opposition for the whole country could not take one step beyond their mono ethnic ghetto mentality and address larger issues affecting the entire population of the country as their official position required them to do. Even in the constitution development process, they were only interested in maximising Tamil gains. They could have done a great service to the entire nation if they could have risen above……..

    • 0

      So you are also a pragmatist! Blame Tamils for all the big and small mess.
      Example small mess: Sri LankanAirlines.
      Very very small mess: 2014 Aluthgama pogrom against Muslims

      • 2

        KP, if you can’t read and understand what I wrote, it is not my problem. You can continue to chase the mirage, and loose your way in the wilderness. The short lived TNA separatist project with majarapalanaya is over. You can count on that.

  • 0

    She is Angela Merkel. There is no Markel, even though Markel sounds better with Modi. The same thing with tribbles. There is, “The Trouble with Tribbles”. There is no tribbles; it is triples. Let me go to bed.

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