By Shyamon Jayasinghe –
“The first thing about election campaigning is to sense your enemy and their tactics. Sajith and his campaigners were in blissful ignorance of the sinister moves of the opposition.”
Never, ever, known as adept in strategic thinking, Sajith Premadasa seems to be getting himself into a deeper and deeper hole.
Sajith’s whole Prez election campaign exhibited folly in strategic play. He grabs nomination leaving a bad taste in the mouths of decent UNPers. Making Tissa Attanayake as campaign leader, Sajith runs a campaign outside Sirikotha’s direction and avoids enlisting Sirikotha leaders. Tissa Attanayake is a proven political failure who betrayed the UNP leader at the 2015 Presidential election campaign by joining the Rajapaksas just at the time he shouldn’t have. Tissa was charged in court for allegedly announcing a forged document purportedly made by Ranil Wickremesinghe about the latter’s alleged links with the TNA. Ranil had the grace and generosity to forgive Tissa in court and have the latter acquitted.
The campaign in progress, Sajith Premadasa is alleged to have openly told the leader not to come anywhere near his election meetings but to focus on the Tamil/Muslim areas.Towards the middle of the campaign, Sajith openly announces he “will get rid of Ranil Wickremesinghe as PM when he becomes Prez.” He adds that many ministers would also be removed. All this he said, unaware that the Prez has no such power under the 19th Amendment. Many UNPers in the island were dismayed by all these senseless utterances that meant something like spitting upward in the air.
The upshot was that Sajith Premadasa was flattened at the elections in a disgraceful manner. If not for the leader’s campaigning in North and East, Sajith would have hit somewhere near 25 lakhs of votes. The net result of all these follies was that the top post was handed over to Gota on a platter! Even before the results were complete, Sajith Premadasa rang Gota to congratulate him; perhaps to show the public what a gentleman he was! As is clear from the above, all along Sajith was no gentleman in politics. He was driven by “Ranil hate.” I know many of his close backers, such as a young relative of mine, who are all Ranil Haters.
Sajith never touched Gota during his campaign and hardly smelt the nationalist/racist feelings at grassroots being built up by Gota’s campaigners. The Rajapaksa battalion went from temple to temple making false claims regarding the MCC and Hambantota agreements. The first thing about election campaigning is to sense your enemy and their tactics. Sajith and his campaigners were in blissful ignorance of all these sinister developments. Sajith continued campaigning making crazy, populist promises harking back to the dreadful days of Sirimavo Bandaranaike when rice was promised from the moon. It was clear that Sajith Premadasa had been clueless and that he had, actully, learnt nothing from political history.
Instead of making an intelligent assessment on why he was defeated, Sajith went on to shift the blame at the door of Sirikotha and its leader.
A prominent business leader in Sydney who had gone to help Sajith all through during his campaign, returned disillusioned. The latter exclaimed that Sajith ‘had no appeal.’ Added: ‘Sajith is a good orator but he is no leader.’ Oratory is crtically needed in political campaigning. However, that oratory must contain a firing substance that touches the nerves of listeners.
Come parliamentary elections, and Sajith keeps attacking the leader; now trying hard to oust him. He should know that according to the UNP constitution, in line with similar other global party constitutions, the leader and the woking Committee take the key decisions. Political parties, world over, are essentially oligarchies; never micro democracies. I, once, had to correct Eran Wickremaratne who had complained that there was no democracy in the UNP. Sajith disregards this reality and keeps fighting, like Don Quixote chasing windmills! He childishly protests over the removal from the Working Committee of cantankerous substances like Ajith Perera.
Having failed in the impossibility of ousting the leader, Sajith nows tries to create another party to win parliamentary elections. He will realise that the gravity of power will move swiftly toward the leader and the official UNP. What is worse, Premadasa doesn’t realise that Sirisena is a huge liability to any political formation. Even Pohottuwa is avoiding Sirisena but Sajith tries to rope in for his new ‘party.’ Rotter though he is, even Maitripala Sirisena will eventually shift away (maaru weyi) as there is one thing that Sirisena understands and that is politics.
What a mess!