By Shyamon Jayasinghe –
Election Results.’ Analysts’-if they can seriously be called so -argue from a particular vantage point of their personal bias.
Sri Lanka’s famed ‘political analyst,’ Dr Dayan Jayatilleka, has given the following assessment:
“The biggest losers are the UNP and its leader, Ranil Wickremesinghe, as well as the JVP. In both cases, the issue is the leadership. Neither party has a personality as a national leader, who is capable of retaining, let alone attracting, votes.
The matter is more serious with the UNP because it is the main democratic alternative. The UNP used to be the largest single party in the country. Even when it lost power in 1994 after 17 years in power, and its candidate was the newly widowed Mrs Srima Dissanayake, who faced a formidable opponent in Mrs Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, the UNP succeeded in scoring 43% of the voter base. Today, after 19 years of UPFA rule, the UNP can score only in the mid 20% range. What used to be the base vote of the UNP, namely 40%, is now the size of the gap between the UNP and the government!
There are around one and a half times as many ex-UNPers in the government as those remaining with the UNP in the opposition.
If the UNP were to face a Presidential Election with its present leadership, it will score even less than the 26% average it scored in the two provinces in this election.”
Dayan ends up proposing Karu and Sajith to replace RW.
Aren’t these all armchair analyses, as pointed out by someone in CT columns? Unfortunately, Sri Lanka is poor for information. Even statistics available are not laid out usefully. What is the percentage of voter absenteeism, for instance? Where is the comparison between past PC election voter performances and the recent one? Sri Lanka also badly lacks Opinion Polls like,for instance Australia has during election time and even after.
Thus we have people like Dayan Jayatilleka giving us their two dollars’ worth. Does Dayan realize he has compared apples and oranges in the stats he furnishes in the second of the above paras? He mixes up General Election Results with PCC results in order to position the reader to accept his persuasion. This is bad form for someone of his stature. It is unbelieveable. Even common Sri Lankans know that a different dynamic works in the two types of elections. PC elections are like the former local government elections where the ruling government partyalways trounce oppositions. This has indeed invariably been the case in Sri Lanka. The party leader is never the focus of electorate attention at PC elections. Personal and local interest of voters take priority. The entire PC election is a bit of a joke for many-as, surely, it must be since electors are electing toothless Tigers.
Dayan’s suggestion of Karu or Sajith to replace RW is equally an arbitrary one that does violence to fact and is belonging more to fiction. Karu is the guy who brought down the fall of the UNP from which it never has been able to get up. Karu crossed over with 17 UNPers who now form the formidable component of Rajapakse’s government. At the time of cross-over, MR hadn’t the majority to elect a Speaker. Karu subsequently returned to the UNP with RW’s help because MR didn’t treat him with respect. The issue over the appointment of Grama Sevekas was the final breaking point after a series of incidents. By the time of Karu’s return the damage had been completed. Besides, Karu failed to bring back any of the others who had marched out with him; not even his own son-in-law. All that the defectors wanted was someone who could lend them status and Karu Jayasuriya fell inot the trap. It was amazing how a year after that Karu tried to compete with RW for leadership.
It was the great cross-over that made greatness out of Rajapakse. MR took it in his tide and turned the new situation to his advantage. He is now the Lord and Master of Sri Lanka having brought in the 18th Amendment.
I have known Karu Jayasuriya closely as a gentleman of honour and a most genial personality. Thus the above incident confused me so overwhelmingly. How in the flick of a moment a person could make a fatal blunder! What Karu should have done was to apologise to the party. He didn’t do that but instead talks with self-belief, which is not good. In this way Karu lost the backing of the party rank and file. When he hasn’t membership acceptance how can Karu receive country-wide support? In terms of political strategy, Karu’s past would hang over him at a Presidential Election as his opposition will have arsenal against him.
Karu Jayasuriya lost the test at the last General Elections when he was beaten by Paba! A man with enormous stature loses to a silly telestar! I genuinely am sorry for Karu and shall be proud to see him rise again. However, he has to think of a better strategy.
As for Dayan’s second option, Sajith, the least said the better. This guy has not shown any intellectual capacity for years. He hasn’t the stature that Karu possesses and is not a patch of his father. His only worth is that he is the son of Premadasa. In fact Sajith makes wrong speeches all the time and I wouldn’t trust the party to him.
Ranil does fail against the populist jingoism that Rajapakse and his cohorts keep practicing. However, one has to realize that changing circumstances can change leadership appeal.If the UNP needs a better leader it will have to look at importing one in the brilliant way that the TNA did. Why not?