By Malinda Seneviratne –
Meanwhile In A Parallel Universe
Wiman Weerawansa, the ardent defender of the regime, staunch nationalist, anti-imperialist and in fact the jaathiye panchaayudaya (self-proclaimed) had come. He had seen, he had chit-chatted, he had posed for photographs and he had left. Ven Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera blessed them all with the customary ‘suwapath wethva’ and went into his bedroom. It had been an animated conversation. They had talked of the Executive Presidency and other constitutional matters. They had discussed the state of the country. They had exchanged pleasantries. The venerable thero was exhausted. He reclined in an easy chair and reflected. He thought.
‘What was that all about? Why on earth did I agree to meet Wimal? What was I trying to achieve? What was his objective?
‘I met him in my capacity as the Convener of the Movement for a Just Society, this is true, but to what end? Wimal is Wimal. A good orator. An excellent communicator. He knows all about brands, brand building and brand positioning. I was in the photographs that made it to the newspapers. So what? I am not the one getting the political mileage. I am not the one who is getting brand exposure.
‘I should have known better. After all I know Wimal. I know his history. I know of his hunger-strike. I know the threats and withdrawal of threats. After each feigned disagreement with the President, Wimal comes out strong defending the regime. The last line of every episode has been the same. He says that he will not allow the regime to be defeated. Aanduwa wattanna denne nehe.
‘Maybe I am getting old. If I had any doubts, all the hue and cry about Cyril Ramaphosa’s visit should have laid them to rest. One would have thought that Wimal would have suffered a coronary if Ramaphosa ever came. Well, he has come now. Wimal has not announced a hunger strike. He has not even done a Palitha Thevarapperuma, threatening to resign knowing well that Mahinda would bail him out at the last moment. Someone said that Ramaphosa was but a tourist and that seems to have been enough for Wimal.
‘Wimal has words. Had he been in the opposition he would have creamed whoever said that Ramaphosa was a tourist. Actually I wish there was someone like Wimal in the opposition. They just have voice-cut politicians. Sloth is their middle name. Now Wimal, had he been in the opposition, would have asked the Government if the TNA was a bunch of wild elephants roaming around in Wilpattu. He would have asked the Government if the TNA’s offices was some culturally and historically significant archaeological site. He would have asked why Ramaphosa has not included Sigiriya, Dambulla and Kandy in his itinerary. He didn’t do that. He remained silent.
‘So what was this visit all about? Wimal doesn’t want regime-change. He does not want Mahinda ousted. He is not interested in a just society because he doesn’t have the eyes to see all the injustice happening around him and even if he did his biting wit does not bend this way and that to twist a phrase and deliver scathing criticism.
‘This was not a visit to pay respects. It was not to obtain blessings. Maybe I should just treat it all with equanimity. I was tricked, this is true. But I cannot, as a bikkhu, turn away anyone, even Wimal. And in any case, I have spent hours and hours with people as dodgy as Wimal or worse. Yes, that’s it. I will take that line. It’s all I can salvage after being turned into a pawn in one of Wimal’s many publicity chess games.’
*Malinda Seneviratne is the Chief Editor of ‘The Nation’ and his articles can be found at www.malindawords.blogspot.com