By Hilmy Ahamed –
The ‘Game Chandiya’ political rhetoric has now reached its peak with the various contenders fighting for their survival in this insignificant election that is going to elect members for the local government bodies to administer the grassroots in the country. Plenty of garbage is being unearthed in their attempt to clean up the garbage mess within the councils.
Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Joint Opposition, which has come forth to contest with the pohottuwa symbol, and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) are attempting to show this election as a referendum on the three-year-old Yahapalanaya administration. They have invested well to draw sizable crowds for their meetings and used the ‘fish eye view’ of the drone cameras to exaggerate the visual. It is a smart move indeed, and hats off to the creative publicity team. The number of votes that would be cast for them at the LG elections would decide whether the pohottuwa would blossom or wither away.
Credit should be given to the Joint Opposition (JO), which has kept the momentum high in their anti-government rhetoric throughout the three-year government and has now managed to create at least an outward rift within the Yahapalanaya.
While forcing the Prime Minister to shut the mouths of the young UNP ‘Turks’, the President who walked out of the Cabinet meeting (to answer a call of nature) has slated and blamed the UNP and the Prime Minister with the bond scam and other government failures. The President himself is claiming that the economy has been mismanaged and that he could do better. He also accuses the UNP members of widespread corruption while forgetting that ‘his people’ faced the same criticism during the last regime. Did he not say that he couldn’t do anything about corruption while being a part of the last Government because of pressure from the then President? He is President now, but still says he is not allowed to carry out his duties by MPs in his government? He does not want to take responsibility for any decision the government he is a part of takes, then and now.
However, he seems to have become the ‘kokatath thailaya’ overnight, to solve political, economic and diplomatic muddles that are unfolding within the Yahapalanaya. There would be no need of a Cabinet, Ministers or Parliament if Sri Lanka were to go back to the ‘one man (one family) show’ era.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister’s thick skin and his ability to ignore the Presidential rhetoric makes one wonder whether he is letting the President dig his own grave.
The President is also claiming credit for the brilliant diplomacy of Mangala Samaraweera and the Prime Minister’s UNP that won over the international community which was threatening to make Sri Lanka a pariah state. This diplomatic success has helped Sri Lanka extricate herself from the black list. Trade concessions too have been offered in addition to relaxing the stranglehold in Geneva due to the Yahapalanaya diplomatic policies. Of course as the country’s Executive and Head of the Cabinet, the President has the right to some credit. If so, then he should also accept the failures of his Government without apportioning them only to the UNP.
The Diplomatic Mess in London:
Brigadier Priyanka Fernando probably is a brilliant soldier who has served the country well. He has been rewarded with a diplomatic posting at one of the best stations as Defense Attaché, but unfortunately, his undiplomatic gesture of slitting the throat of anti Sri Lanka protesters during the Independence Day celebrations in London on the 4th of February has been captured on tape and has gone viral. Calls have already been made by some British Parliamentarians to withdraw his diplomatic immunity and deport him to Sri Lanka. The anti Sri Lanka Tamil Diaspora has been keeping up the pressure. With just one stroke of his finger across his throat, he has tarnished the image of our brave soldiers who not only fought and defeated a dreaded bunch of sadistic terrorists but also provided rescue and humanitarian assistance to the human shield the LTTE used during the final stages of the war. The cries and prayers of the Tamil Eelam Diaspora seem to have been answered to tarnish the image of our valiant soldiers. The anti Sri Lanka group within the international community has now got additional ammunition to target us at the Geneva deliberations and attempt to prove that the Sri Lankan armed forces probably committed war crimes during the 30 year old Eelam war.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs acted fast to avoid a diplomatic confrontation with Britain by suspending Brigadier Priyanka Fernando from his position and calling on the Sri Lankan Army to conduct an immediate investigation. The President with his coterie of ‘brilliant’ advisors overruled and reinstated him to the applause of the so called patriots in Sri Lanka who tried to gain political capital during this election period.
For the majority of Sri Lankans, the Sinhala soldiers who liberated the country from 30 years of terrorism and separatist ambitions of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) could do NO WRONG. Our President played to the gallery probably to garner some votes to minimize the humiliating defeat predicted for his SLFP led coalition by the UNP led United National Alliance and the Mahinda Rajapaksa led G L Peries’ coalition.
There is no doubt that the President is facing immense pressure to increase his SLFP’s dominance at the polls. Failure by his coalition in this election would mean that he would spend the rest of his two-year term as a toothless president who would certainly retire in 2019. A reasonable showing will rejuvenate him to cause a rift within the UNP and try a ‘Mahinda stunt’ by wooing MPs to join his bandwagon. On the other hand, the Prime Minister with his mastery at survival might move to impeach the President with the wholehearted support of the Rajapaksas and the die hard UNPers. Most of his pole-vaulting ‘Ping Amethis’ too would scale the wall to the winning side. He probably would be left with just a handful that would number less than 20 heads. His dreams of cleaning up corruption will end as a failed mission.
The country was spared from becoming a confirmed banana republic by the bold stand taken by President Maithripala to divorce himself from the party he belonged to for over 50 years. He has confirmed many times that it was the UNPers who brought him his presidency. He mastered a coup by bringing in SLFP seniors who were with Mahinda Rajapaksa in January 2015 and taking over the SLFP. A defeated Mahinda did not attempt to contest and surrendered hoping that he would be spared from all the accusations that were thrown at the Rajapaksa family. No one knows who is protecting the Rajapaksas, the President or PM. The Chief Minister of the Western Province Isura Deshapriya probably let the cat out of the bag by announcing that The President has advised Gotabaya Rjapaksa to leave the country as there was the threat of an imminent arrest. Did he make a mistake, or is it Presidential protection he was talking of?
It is time the President returned to the collective responsibility of his Yahapalanaya concept without over riding Mangala’s beer price reduction, allowing the majority (women) in the country to buy their booze if they wish and choose a vocation as bar tenders if they so wish. More importantly, he should not play to the gallery by creating diplomatic blunders that would list Sri Lanka as Mugabe’s Zimbabwe.