By Amrit Muttukumaru –
Sri Lanka has been in many crossroads and given many opportunities to resolve its outstanding problems where the shattered unity among its diverse population, endemic corruption in almost all sectors, breaching of the rule of law with gay abandon and impunity are top of the list. Every opportunity has been squandered on the altar of unprincipled electoral politics. We are once again at the crossroads and this may well be the last opportunity before things unravel to the extent that putting this country together again may be similar to what befell Humpty Dumpty where “All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again”! Successive administrations since independence have contributed to this – some more than others. This is well known to any ‘thinking’ person in this country and needs no elaboration.
At the present juncture, with a looming general election due in under two months the stakes have never been higher for the country. This is so is because a dangerous two-thirds parliamentary majority for the ruling dispensation is almost a certainty in some shape or form. Even if the two-thirds mark is marginally missed, one can be certain as night follows day that given the ‘morality’ of most of our politicians, ‘crossovers’ in exchange for perks will ensure this!
The proposed alliance between opposition leader Sajith Premadasa’s UNP faction named ‘Samagi Jana Balawegaya’ (SJB) and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) has the potential to not only prevent such an eventuality but even a fighting chance to have a parliamentary majority or at the very least to be a strong opposition. Such an alliance may not be as far-fetched as it would appear at first sight.
The JVP which has come a long way from its bloody and disastrous revolutionary days beginning in the late 1970s has still not been able to completely shake off the vestige of the doubt the electorate still harbors. Be that as it may, it is palpable that it wouldn’t take much effort to convince the electorate that the JVP could be a viable alternative to the unprincipled and corrupt politics of the major parties – UNP and SLFP. It is also understood that the major parties – UNP and SLFP also have a violent and bloody past. As for the SLPP, for the most part it consists of former SLFPers.
An alliance between the Sajith led UNP faction ‘Samagi Jana Balawegaya’ (SJB) and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) is not only electorally beneficial to both parties but more crucially is beneficial to the democratic and pluralistic governance of the country by hopefully denying a two-thirds parliamentary majority to the ruling dispensation. It must be emphasized that this must not accrue to any ruling party – particularly when the Executive President (even with the 19th Amendment) and government are from the same party.
Without such an alliance, the Sajith faction and JVP (in particular) have little chance of being a formidable opposition let alone forming a government.
This writer senses that there is considerable support among a wide section of people for what Ranjan Ramanayake has tried to do in exposing corruption in high places notwithstanding the controversial methods used. These people are smart enough to sense that interested parties in parliament and outside who will fight tooth and nail to maintain the corrupt status quo have pounced upon some flippant conversations Ranjan allegedly had with some women laced with ribaldry to sidetrack the explosive content.
Under the circumstances, Sajith will be well advised to distance himself from the UNP’s sanctimonious “temporarily suspension” of Ranjan’s membership as a “disciplinary action”. This “suspension” is rich given the continuing membership of even some UNP stalwarts notwithstanding credible allegations of their contribution to misdemeanors which include the egregious bond scam.
The initiative for the proposed alliance must come from opposition and SJB leader Sajith Premadasa.
This proposal is doubly vital in the context of the credible belief of the existence of moles within the UNP leadership playing double or even treble games.
Spoilers to this proposal is envisaged not only from these moles but also from elements within Sajith’s faction itself who are corrupt and those who feel threatened by the competition it will spawn for positions from JVPers. The alliance gives Sajith the opportunity to cleanse the SJB of corrupt elements.
Sajith’s faction must not take their eye off the ball and lose track of the larger picture – which is the country. The proposed alliance may even necessitate giving the JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake either the position of Deputy Prime Minister in the event of a government formation or a leadership position in the opposition next to the position of Opposition Leader.
This writer is confident that such an alliance has the potential to turn around the fortunes of this country for the better in terms of its major problems which include – shattered unity among its diverse population and endemic corruption in almost all sectors.
Such an alliance has the potential to appeal to the Sinhala Buddhist majority and Tamil and Muslim minorities.
This is the moment for Sajith Premadasa to show his true mettle – whether he is a statesman or just an ordinary politician. This will seriously upset the best laid plans of the ruling dispensation. It will rattle his detractors and the moles within the UNP who have tried every trick in the book and even outside it to checkmate Sajith at every turn – never mind the damage it does to the UNP or country.
Most importantly, if Sajith genuinely goes ahead with this proposal in full public glare, it will earn him the respect and support of the electorate and propel him as a statesman.