22 April, 2019

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The Backers Of The 11th Hour

By Uditha Devapriya

Uditha Devapriya

Uditha Devapriya

It is easy to back a winner. It is not so easy to back a dead (or half-dead) horse. It is also not easy to take the vicissitudes of life with humility. Winning elections, for example, isn’t a real victory if you don’t have the humility to bow down before those who made victory possible. That’s what Maithripala Sirisena did. We are grateful to him. We hope he will continue likewise. The 100-day program, you must admit, is supported by all, regardless of party colour and preference.

But there are other heroes too. Those who backed the dead horse, for instance. Cheerleaders are easy to find and easy to pay for. When defeated, however, they can’t be found. That is why I have always felt (and believed) that inasmuch as there are no permanent friends or enemies in politics, those who stay behind and refuse to champion the victor (and thereby stick to their principles) are to be lauded. All the way.

This is why, whatever said and done, I will raise a cheer for some people. They stayed behind. They continued to stand by ideal. They didn’t apologise. Yes, they championed the dead horse. Yes, they are to be admired.

I am no fan of politics. Indeed, I pity those who take to it. I also pity those who lose, and feel gracious enough to congratulate the loser (and winner) if they take defeat (and victory) with humility. Some say the loser at this year’s election wasn’t humble enough. They say he tried to cling to power. It didn’t work, of course, and in the end he had to concede defeat. Not easy, you must admit. After all, we had a former president who tried to cling to power by claiming that she had one more year. Didn’t work.

There were those who didn’t refuse to back this year’s loser. They brought Mahinda Rajapaksa and tried to hand him the SLFP’s chairmanship. At the time I am writing this, Rajapaksa has conceded defeat on that count too, and has handed the post to Maithripala Sirisena. It’s too early to tell, in this quiet game of chess, which of the two will emerge at the end. But that’s not important right now.

It’s time I mentioned some names. There was Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, who was one of the more gentlemanly stalwarts from the preceding regime. There was also Susil Premajayantha, Nimal Siripala de Silva, Wimal Weerawansa, and Dullas Alahapperuma.

Those were the chief names. There were others too: Dilan Perera, Ratnasiri Wickramanayake, Mahinda Samarasinghe, Kumara Welgama. A cheer for them all.

Dilan MahindaI don’t back Mahinda. I don’t back Maithripala either, at least not until he proves himself with the 100-day program, but that’s another story. For now, what’s important is this: it’s not easy to back the loser. There is much up for grabs from the winner’s side. Perhaps that’s what those who defected that day to Maithripala Sirisena, who decided that he should be the party’s chairman, thought. After all, it’s conceded by everyone that among those who defected, there were “unclean” names too: names the new government must not associate with if it is to remain “clean”.

I have little sympathy for politicians. Winners or losers. But there was much vilification that day. Those who defected, I must say, didn’t do themselves any favours when they crossed over without as much as a by-your-leave. We are talking about people who vociferously badmouthed Maithripala Sirisena’s campaign here. People who salaamed Mahinda Rajapaksa unabashedly, who were part of what the late S. L. Gunasekara called the “Maharajaneni Club”.

Those people left one “Maharajaneni”. They are with another. That’s sad. Which is why I will say this: they should not be tolerated.

I mentioned S. L. Gunasekara above. I remember what he wrote five years ago, at the time of the 2010 election. It was obvious at the time that he championed Mahinda Rajapaksa, not because he was a lily-white angel, but because of his political convictions. I also remember an interview with him, which went on TV right after the election.

He spoke frankly there. Those who crossed over, he claimed, did so for personal gain. When the interviewer quizzed him on this, he raised an interesting point. Those who crossed over claimed that they did so to support the war. They broke away from their parties and lent support to Mahinda for this reason. But, Gunasekara asked, if they really did support the war, why didn’t they do so without crossing over, while staying in the opposition? Apt.

Five years later, the tide has turned. Those who once salaamed now detract. We have that synthetic doctorate-holding goon, for example, claiming that he was unfairly treated by the outgoing regime. We also have those who badmouthed Maithripala Sirisena speaking of how useless it is to grieve over a “dead body” (the reference to the loser was clear there). Scoundrels, all of them. They aren’t to be trusted. Maithripala Sirisena, I must say, should be wary of them.

Still.

Those who backed the (half-)dead horse were in the few that day. But they backed the loser, at least until the loser himself conceded defeat. That’s class. Those who defected that day would have overseen the eventual, peaceful transition of power had they stayed behind a little longer. They didn’t. That’s not class. That’s opportunism. Spinelessness.

For their dedication, the backers of the 11th hour are to be admired. Permanent friends can’t be found in politics. But they proved otherwise. I don’t want to take sides here, but looking at it all, I suppose that when the SLFP’s history is recorded someday, their names will go down as those who stuck by principles and spoke for the loser. No mean feat, that. But they did it. And for that, I will admire them. Always.

*Uditha Devapriya is a freelance writer who can be reached at udakdev1@gmail.com. His articles can be accessed at fragmenteyes.blogspot.com.

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Latest comments

  • 12
    1

    As someone pointed out, since the defeat of the dictatorial regime, every Tom, Dick , Harry and Thomas wants to write. Nothing wrong with that if they can write useful and sensible things I say.

    You need to travel abroad and see the world, no point in being a frog in the well.

    • 0
      0

      ”travel abroad and see the world”
      Yes, it happened
      ”Cheerleaders are easy to find and easy to pay for”
      Yes, it was taken up

      Evidence:

      Corporate Europe Observatory, May 2010:
      ”Some of the consultancies are lobbying on behalf of governments which are directly or indirectly responsible for serious human rights violations. For instance Bell Pottinger has since 2005 lobbied the EU institutions on behalf of Sri Lanka, whose government is accused of systematic human rights violations.”

  • 6
    0

    Uditha,
    you admire those who stuck to MARA to the end. You even named those who you think were great – Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, Susil Premajayantha, Nimal Siripala de Silva, Wimal Weerawansa, and Dullas Alahapperuma. As for me MARA was a scoudrel of the worst nature. And these people who supported him knowing what a robber baron he was, right to the end did so because of their snouts being well and truly dipped in the gravy train.

  • 2
    2

    The previous regime did not make any graceful exit. As news are unfolding about a possible coup using emergency and continue in power but the with failure of these efforts, they wanted a safe passage out of temple trees which Ranil etc facilitated. The ex ministers who remained with MR had no alternative but to hang on but given an opportunity to join Maithree, most of them would not hestitate. Further, there may be various corruption charges against some of them as well.

    Uditha can wait and watch the success of the 100 day programme plus all crimes committed by the previous regime, with corruption, misuse of power and state resources, white van, etc. etc.

  • 0
    0

    ” The Backers Of The 11th Hour “

    The TNA had it’s ‘secret’ understanding with the winner/s. so it must be Muslim parties who defected at the very last moment you must be referring to, and they’ve got their ministries too.

    • 0
      0

      Ram,

      It is obvious you are an out and out Muslim hater. No problem. You can’t touch them. You can go fly your kite in the dark.

      Your Dieasspora were hell bent on brainwashing the suffering Tamils not to participate in the elections. They wanted to see Rajapaksa win. They thought that was the best way to destroy Sri Lanka, more appropriate to say the Sinhala Buddhist majority.

      TNA had made up their mind to vote for Rajapakse as soon as the elections were declared. But they did not declare till very late in order not to allow Rajapaksa to take advantage. Sambandan is trying to serve the suffering masses of the North and East to the best of his ability. Tamils of your ilk do not deserve a public servant of his qualities. You deserve to be dead along with the Tigers.

      And the thing that hurts your most, Muslim parties supporting Maithripala, and on top of that getting ministerial portfolios: The Muslims were the very first segment of the electorate to march away from Rajapaksa. They took that decision en masse after Rajapaksa engineered their destruction in Aluthgama in June 2014. SLMC and other Muslim parties were part and parcel of the Rajapaksa Pirate Club. Muslims dont need them.

    • 0
      0

      Ram,

      Muslims realized almost 3 years back what their fate was going to be in the coming years when the BBS and other groups were unleashed on them.

      The Muslims dreaded another 6 years of MR’s rule as Muslims felt that they will be subjected to a pogrom similar to the 83 riots. In fact many MRs racist ministers did mention of the possibility. Muslims were being targeted and subsequently Aluthgama happened and the perpetrators intentions were to spread it into the entire island like the 83 riots but thankfully the Sinhalese Majority community did not fall for that.In fact they voiced out that this was being done by MR to create a fear psychosis among the Sinhalese so he can get the majority vote for his 3rd term.

      The Muslim parties who were with MR had a problem. If they leave MR and if MR wins then they will lose the voice for Muslims and further the consequences would be bad for them as well as Muslims.

      But subsequently they realized that the Majority of Muslim voters would not vote for MR even when it was expected that he will somehow win.And importantly the Muslim voters would reject these Muslim parties and their leaders if a subsequent general election was held. This was the reason Muslim parties left MR.

      In fact after winning the war with a 2/3rds majority MR could have won the peace and left his name not in buildings and aircraft’s but in Sri Lanka’s history as a leader who not only united Sri Lanka’s borders but united the hearts and minds of all Sri Lankans.

  • 1
    0

    Uditha’s point is already noted by the govt: they’re trying to bring laws to stop cross-overs.
    UPFA govt was the master of it for the last 9 yrs.

  • 1
    0

    Uditha Devapriya, my dear boy,

    All what you have written is irrelevant. Because Ministers and MPs and other politicians who stuck with RaaPassa during the 30 days before Jan 8 were those who were permitted to do the marauding on behalf of Raa Passa, for a share of the loot.

    Among those that jumped to the winning side were those kept in line “by force” – CT readers know what I mean.

    Your article would have been relevant if RaaPassa was an honourable man, who did not sodomize the country’s laws. First of all he was a drunkard; then a womanizer, then an economic pirate. He had no principles except one “make hay while the sun shines”. Are you going to compliment the other members of the Pirate Club too, Gotabaya and Basil, who are sticking to RaaPassa?

    Take Robert R’s advice. Stop being a frog in the well.

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