By Uditha Devapriya –
Here’s a question. Who’s worse: the person who cashes in on another’s victory by jumping over and then abandoning him or the person who doesn’t but still uses that other for his campaign? Not an easy question, we note. People are frail. Politicians are frail. They have no permanent friends and for this reason their preferred outcomes shift over time. (Dr) Mervyn Silva, for instance, would hardly have baked bread with Ranil Wickremesinghe or Arjuna Ranatunga this time last year. Yes, it’s a small world. Not that this makes it better. Or worse.
For Mahinda Rajapaksa however, there’s really no choice. He has no permanent friends, but he has his clique. That clique has been rooting for him. Still is. Its first “victory” (if you can call it that) was the Nugegoda rally. Extrapolating this to the UPFA’s decision to nominate him for the election is simplistic and ridiculous. But that’s the “narrative” his faction continue to read. They’ve “won” what they want so far. Can’t blame them for believing they’ll “win” in future.
That’s why the former president has no option. He must stand by his clique. Always.
But the likes of Udaya Gammanpila, Wimal Weerawansa, Dinesh Gunawardena, and Vasudeva Nanayakkara will not be enough. That is why (for instance) Rajapaksa could not have (even with those four rioting throughout the country on his behalf) obtained the support of his party if it wasn’t for Susil Premajayantha and Anura Priyadarshana Yapa.
And now, those who chose to go dumb when Sirisena’s faction trashed their man’s predecessor are coming out. One by one.
It happened two weeks ago. Three Deputy Ministers – Lasantha Alagiyawanna, Sudarshani Fernandopulle, and Eric Weerawardena – resigned from their posts. They were not Mahinda loyalists. Indeed, if it wasn’t for Maithripala Sirisena’s infamous “declaration” on July 14 they wouldn’t have made their move. They affirmed loyalty to the SLFP and UPFA. Their statement came right after the Mahinda Faction had made one in support of Rajapaksa at the same venue (the Opposition Leader’s office). Timely. Calculated.
There’s a problem here however. All three of them in effect “looked” the other way when the “Bring Back Mahinda” campaign was in full sway. If they ignored and even discouraged that through silence once, what explains their change of face now? Where do their loyalties lie?
Let’s not forget that they resigned during the election season, i.e. when ministerial posts are worth a dime a dozen and getting a manape is more important. In this context would it make sense to consider their decision(s) as an affirmation of loyalty to their former leader? Of course not. It doesn’t take a political scientist to conclude that they downplayed Rajapaksa’s campaign even during the presidential election. They were among the first to get on Sirisena’s platform after he won.
Is this a problem for the has-been president? Yes and no. Most of those contesting from the UPFA have no “leader” to turn to. Maithripala Sirisena has in effect given up party leadership (until the election’s over that is) and this means there’s no person to “hold up” the UPFA. Sure, the president did himself no favours by confessing (with pride) that he saved Ranil Wickremesinghe’s skin. But politics isn’t all about popular mandates and for this reason it won’t be surprising if he goes back to leading SLFPers while doing his best to castrate his own party after August 17.
Meanwhile, there’s Mahinda. He’s different. His loyalty to party is uncontested. That wave gathering around him is irresistible. Makes sense to be on his side. Votes don’t come easily, after all. That’s why those who’ve renounced their ministerial posts (with chest-beating words) are claiming that they are “with” him. That they’ve realised their folly and have come to embrace him.
That’s just rhetoric however. They wouldn’t be using Mahinda if they knew they’d win without him. What warrants scrutiny therefore is what they want with him.
What happens after August 17? Nimal Siripala de Silva says “I will be the first to announce him as prime minister”. That’s rubbish, as everyone who has read the Constitution will realise. Whoever’s vying for the prime ministerial post (according to Article 43) shouldn’t only command the confidence of the Parliament. The president must choose him. That explains why a) Sirisena chose Wickremesinghe and a minority government and b) this was not unconstitutional (never mind what Sarath N. Silva can or will say).
Now here’s the pincer. If Sirisena decides to go for a National Government (he has indicated that), and he opts for Ranil over Mahinda, where will Alagiyawanna be? Fernandopulle? Weerawardena? Janaka Bandara Tennakoon? Will they continue their Mahinda-love? Or will they join this coalition, obtaining (as they did before) ministerial posts based on loyalty to the president?
All this is conjecture. Guesswork. But if those who win thanks to the former president abandon their de facto patron for ministerial portfolios, they’ve got nothing to lose. Nor has Rajapaksa, for that matter. If he rides on a sympathy wave again, it’ll accumulate. Based on how (un)popular the National Government will be, that’ll work in his favour. Someday.
In the meantime, he’ll have to wait. He’ll have to be a Trampoline. Tough, yes. Can’t help.
Sinhala_Man / August 1, 2015
Interesting, makes sense.
Yes, those Maithri loyalists who obtained nomination not from the U.N.P. but from the U.P.F.A. have to pick up preferential votes from voters who are rejecting “The Grand Old Party”, and to pick up such preferences, they have to depend on NOT flirting with the UNP.
Many a politician has acted in more unprincipled ways than this!
Siyane Korale / August 1, 2015
MR won’t even win 65 seats for his cabal. UNP will sweep the polls. Don’t know why you’re so worried. Unlike Muslim racist communalists, and Tamil racists both of whom blindly like Wilderbeest vote for racists and communalists and caste driven backward Tamil Hindu racists, we sinhalese will never be caught by racists or nationalists. We agree and love with all in our traditional homelands including our Sinhala heartland of Kandy, And our traditional homelands including Colombo. In our homeland, we have 45% Muslims and Tamils. In our deep south even in Devundara tuduwa we have Muslims and Tamils. In Badulla also in our homeland almost all shops and businesses are run by Muslims.
The real communalist racists are TNA,SLMC,ACMC, ITAK etc. How many sinhalese live-in Muslim areas, or in Jaffna now? We’re rational and we will not allow that dictator back in. We will vote for secular inclusive UNP and we will show racist Muslim and Tamils how we are better.
tinpotjihadi / August 1, 2015
Why is Dayan Jayatilleke aka DeSilva aka[Edited out], silent during this election? He was pontificating like crazy before the elections were announced. I’m sure he knows his Lord Dutugeminu part II is going to be tossed out in a Tsunami of youth voters and the silent majority on August 17th. By this time he was full of praise for Rajapakse. This time he knows the goose is cooked. Poor [Edited out] .UNP will get at least 120 seats and cross 50%of the popular vote. It’s gonna be a landslide that Medamulane will not be able to comprehend nor accept.
Jango / August 1, 2015
Tinpotj – He’s still thrashing around – I saw him yesterday on TV with his usual blah, blah, blah for his master. I also saw a pic of him at some function of MR’s with his ‘twin loser’ Rajiva – both standing to attention behind their wannabe MP.
Poor sod, he got it all wrong – as usual!
Jango / August 1, 2015
“Mahinda the trampoline” would be a great cartoon!
I can just see Weerawansa, Dinesh, Gammanpillai and the other losers jumping on Mahinda, stretched out, arms and legs tethered to four posts, stomach distended. The hangers-on will have a hard time bouncing on that massive ‘pot’.
jjanaka / August 1, 2015
People are enjoying their freedom and will never bring back the uneducated dictator and his family of greedy rogues.
Rohan / August 1, 2015
“there’s Mahinda. He’s different. His loyalty to party is uncontested. That wave gathering around him is irresistible.”
But, had the genuine SLFP made a genuine decision not to let Mahinda run in the lection, he would have had contested under another party with another symbol. Don’t you think??
NAK / August 1, 2015
If,as Siyane korale,claims abow,UPFA gets only 65 seats Sirisena will be the winner in that he can keep his word that he doesn’t have to appoint Mahinda the PM. Yet,he will be a loser for he led the party he leads to defeat.
Catch 22 isn’t it.
However the script changes drastically if Mahinda wins a majority and succeeds in keeping all the frogs in the bag which in tern will be a difficult proposition as the spoon for ministerial posts are with Sirisena and he seem to bank on this heavily.
But if Mahinda comes with all cards intact,i.e. a clear majority support in the parliament, Sirisena can read the art.43/3 anyway he likes but if he does anything against the will of the people it will be chaos for next four and half years.This will be the darkest four yeas of Sri Lankan history, ever.
Douglas / August 1, 2015
It was no secret and a “9th Wonder” that after January 8th, “Nugegoda Man” had to be staged by the “Four” (Weerawansa,Dinesh,Vasu,& Gamanpila)for survival PLUS a “Come Back” to power. Also, we saw how “tactfully” and “surreptitiously” MR avoided being physically present at those rallies. He, of course sent “messages” which were read by nominated persons. Also, we saw how those “pilgrimages” to Carlton were organized. All those were nothing but “Trampoline” acts to later on to establish the “COME BACK” honoring the “DEMAND” by the people. Yet, MR has not being able to “introduce” new faces to the arena and play the game in its true spirit to meet the expectations of the people. He and his team will fail not for anything else but the people are well aware of these “Team Players” for the last five to ten years. That “awareness” now embedded in the people is not “embedded” in MR and his team. That awareness would have dawned in MR if he was allowed to “stay calm” and contemplate on his future; but the “Four” did not allow him that space because they were “wiser” than MR. So MR had no option other than to join the “Trampoline” act. The people are watching this “Trampoline” act of MR and his Team with contempt to turn their back on 17 August 2015.