Response To Prof. HL: Sobitha The Only Horse In The Draw? Of Course Not
By Kumar David –
I thank Prof. H.L. Seneviratne for “On Kumar and Nimalka: The Single-Issue Debate” and request space for a brief reply. Yes HL has identified two hurdles facing my single-issue presidential candidacy proposal. It’s not new; I have been in political gatherings where these were discussed.
(a) Can the single-issue candidate be trusted to abolish the Executive Presidency (EP) immediately upon election and not attempt to hang on as the EP? Haven’t we the people been cheated twice before?
(b) Why give abolishing the EP priority when there are a multitude of problems facing the country? Is this all that important when we should be focusing on “the arduous path” of addressing this multitude of issues via a “rainbow coalition”?
A single-issue candidate who will have no choice but do the job can indeed be groomed if the right approach is used. There are three requirements. First, this is where a rainbow coalition is meaningful and attainable, because the task is unique and the demand near universal; disagreement on other policy issues doesn’t matter. HL’s programmatic rainbow, from red to green, Tamil to Sinhalese, capital to labour and god to mammon is wishful thinking; it is naive to the point of absurdity. The post-EP parliamentary election must and will be a contest of different programmes; nothing will make that reality go away. But a single-issue rainbow now to abolish the EP is eminently doable; it already exists in embryo in the wide attention the proposal in receiving in many quarters.
Second the election manifesto and campaign must be clear-cut; the manifesto must contain only one issue and an outline of the new parliamentary system so that when a mandate is secured the new constitution or amendments can be in place within six months. The propaganda campaign by candidate and rainbow must be similarly focussed.
Third a candidate who solemnly vows to abolish the EP pronto, campaigns accordingly and is widely trusted by the rainbow and the public has to be chosen. Let naming names take a backseat till the concept has been consolidated in political space; I have no deep preferences but I refuse to accept that there exists not one such man or woman across the length and breadth of this land.
In any case requirements one and two above make it impossible for a victor to go back on his/her word. The rainbow will collapse with a thunderclap, the structures of sate will become ungovernable and the streets will go up in flames. I don’t understand why HL doesn’t see this obvious fact of real-politics if the campaign is developed as I detail.
Does HL say that meeting these three requirements is an absurd expectation? That is a degree of pessimism that is unwarranted even before getting started. Certainly this is more doable than his programmatic rainbow where the lion lies down with the lamb.
HL’s second objection is also unacceptable. Abolishing the EP is not only about changing a job description. It is the root and spring of the rot in governance, law and order and judicial independence. It is the source of impunity for a multiplicity of criminal eruptions. Abolishing the EP is about abolishing this vale of tears without which this nation can take not one more step forward. HL’s suggestion to build a rainbow instead, and therefore presumably under a continuing EP system, logically envisages the continuation of the executive presidential system for a further six years or more. Has HL thought this matter through? If he has let him explicitly say that he proposes a rainbow government serving under a Rajapakse presidency because that’s all his “realistic” option adds up to!
Two closing remarks and I am done. If Mahinda under extreme pressure decides, as a ploy, to abolish the executive presidency will he not attempt subterfuge – say an executive prime ministership with EP like powers? Of course much deception will be on the way. Are those who have linked up with my single-issue campaign so short of grey matter that they not to have thought of these possibilities, is political society not alert and forewarned? Please give folks a little credit; people have thought that far and beyond, but let’s cross that bridge if and when we reach it. Second point: am I sold on Sobitha, his he the only horse in the draw? Of course not, I used him as an example that can unify a rainbow, defeat Mahinda and keep his word. You think not? OK no problem, let’s find another, but identifying a candidate is still a long way off.