By Malinda Seneviratne –
A conversation took place between a singer, a lyricist and a journalist, in Kaduwela. This was 3-4 years ago. The topic was the charisma and charm of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The singer, Kithsiri Jayasekera, brother of the in-the-news Dayasiri Jayasekera told a story. He had no reason to lie. Chaaminda Ratnasuriya was witness. This writer remembers. Kithsiri spoke in Sinhala. Here’s a translation.
‘Lokka (that’s the President), called Malli (younger brother). He told Malli that he knows that Malli wanted to work. He pointed out that he could not do anything for the people while in the UNP. He asked Malli to join him and do some real work. He told Malli to think about it.
‘A few weeks later he had called again. This time he had told him that he (the President) had thought about it again and decided it was not a good idea. This is what he said: “I thought about it. You should remain in the party. You have a future in the UNP. The opposition needs people like you. And anyway, despite all the insults I’ve had to suffer, I didn’t leave my party. I think you should remain in the UNP”.
‘Malli was astounded. Now he doesn’t know what to make of it. He was totally confused.’
The confusion probably was temporary. After all we have heard Dayasiri deliver scathing attacks on the Government from time to time since then. The two telephone calls, looking back, might have achieved something which helped Dayasiri ditch the UNP. It opened a door. The President may have had a ‘long term plan’, but even if he didn’t, anyone with even an iota of understanding about party politics in Sri Lanka would realize that Dayasiri was bound to fall out of favor with Ranil, sooner or later. He might suffer insult after insult, but there would come a breaking point. In the event, it may have been precipitated the dismissive and ungracious treatment meted out to Dayasiri by Sajith Premadasa. Bottom line: it was bound to happen.
And when breaking point arrives, relative merits are weighed. There is ‘This leader’ and ‘That leader’; the one who treated Dayasiri like trash and the one that opened a door. Justifying defection to self, from that point on, is easy. And that’s the hard part! But once a decision is justified to self, it’s child’s play to justify it to the voter.
The focus is on Dayasiri and his defection, but if the theatrics are to be understood maybe there’s a significant clue to be found in those two telephone conversations. It may all seem a lottery. Some might call it luck. It may not be wise to be hasty in conclusion!
*Malinda Seneviratne is the Chief Editor of ‘The Nation’ and his articles can be found at www.malindawords.blogspot.com