By Rusiripala Tennakoon –
The latest we are witnessing in the political scenario is the live discussion about the events surrounding Minister Wimal Weerawansa of the ‘Pohottuwa’ regime. Amidst several conjectures expressed and unexpressed the associated events have assumed highly important contours spreading across the nexus of the political big picture of the country. Some including sections of the opposition try to make out that this is another well planned ruse of the government to divert the attention of the public from the predicaments seriously affecting their day to day living affairs. There is another school of thought that it is a manifestation of the developing internal conflicts in the Rajapaksa clan. Some Independent political critics view it as a timely maneuver orchestrated to properly guide the direction of the government which is now in a somewhat astray and adrift course. Few claims that it is a reaction of some of those in the government disgruntled over the happenings going beyond their individual satisfaction and who think enough is enough.
Well, we are yet to see the reality. But if we look at the episode with an open mind there are many possibilities towards this culmination. The group is far more formidable to be regarded as an unthreatening adversary. Whatever is the stunt if it is so, the grouping itself constitute a potential risk similar to that of a dormant volcano. The eruption can be activated internally as well as externally. Even if the numbers superficially visible are taken into account it carries significant weightage sufficient enough to tilt the balance at any crucial juncture. Unhappy external power blocks can catalyze a reaction. (we have learnt in chemistry that a catalyst can activate a chemical reaction without itself undergoing any change in the process). We cannot forget that we are exposed to and become the focus of several hawkish and no fewer belligerent forces now, unlike in the recent past.
The development too is associated with a highly vulnerable conglomeration, comprising of left, ultraleft, center of left, chauvinist, diverse protagonist and senior figures in local politics. The chances are that there is a strong possibility of more diverse social groups joining in, particularly in the context of a long felt need for the country to be steered by a new third force eliminating the dynastic influence the politics of the country has been subject to. The failure of the so called few ‘Viyathmaga’ members to make any significant contribution to the political direction of the country after the last general election and the many issues pending without any solid basis or plan of resolution is further assisting in the process of this precipitation.
It is only after sometime we will know whether the polarization is due to and based on national issues or parochial concerns of a few individuals. Any progress of the movement of this grouping is highly dependent on this. In order to get a clear view of this we have to examine some of the important issues that came to limelight;
* MCC agreement from USA: There was an element of uncertainty surrounding the issue before it was finally declared that MCC grant would not be accepted which hung fire over a period of time. It is noteworthy that the final decision was announced after the dead line given by US for accepting the MCC grant expired! It was a sour grapes story in the eyes of many.
* Colombo Port East Terminal Fiasco: We saw the level of opposition that was build up before it was finally declared that the ECT would not be given to the Company recommended by INDIA. Expression of Controversial viewpoints on the policy stand of the Government by different members became a common feature. The divergent stands were obviously wide apart and so unusual to have originated from the same government source.
The decision-making process did not unfortunately display any degree of concern about the profile and the standing of the enterprise that came forward to get into the business jointly with the SLPDA on a partnership basis. The very fact that the WCT becoming the substitute alternative to ECT shows that the GOSL has not properly assessed the background of the interveners. Unless precautionary safeguards are not secured properly there is a strong possibility of the activities of ECT becoming seriously hampered during the development process of the WCT by these contenders.
Then there are several other issues overhanging which have caused serious apprehensions and concerns where the interests and policy stands among the decision makers appear to be diverse.
* One country one law: This was a political slogan which carried much weight with the voters virtually leading them to the expectation of comprehensive legal reforms removing several outdated laws and introducing legislature ensuring the impartiality of the judiciary.
People expected the judiciary to be secure from undue influence and autonomous functioning within their own field;
Appointment of Judges, rules to protect judicial independence, executive and the administration of justice, reforms to eliminate laws with preferential treatments applicable to communities, classes or religions were concerns in this regard.
Some of the views now expressed by those responsible in the government appear to have taken a different course direction.
* Presidential Commission findings and the pending indictments on the Easter Sunday Fracas is another matter that has caused some interest and worry in the SLFP segment of this new grouping. There appear to be a developing anxiety about a possibility of prosecution of some of their members.
* A discontent of the SLFP from the time of accommodating candidates for the General election appear to have developed further after the allocation of ministerial portfolios of the government.
The school of thought that the entire scene is something orchestrated by the government itself is untenable due to several considerations. It is unlikely that the SLFP wing represented in the group by its general Secretary Dayasiri Jayasekara to have been given the green light to participate in a ginger group by the party leader Sirisena if it is so felt by them. Sirisena himself is in a dilemma about the pending indictments in the Easter Sunday case. So it is more likely that the SLFP now reduced to a tail end appendage of the ‘Pohottuwa’ taking a risk joining in such a move at a crucial time like this.
Even for the Government it is a potential risk for the future of the ‘Pohottuwa’ to pave the way to build up a mock but strong grouping which can boomerang any moment.
The other political parties are in serious disarray. UNP is in virtual extinct. SJB, the main opposition party is also fairly fragile with the known history of some of its partners. The Muslim parties are in the opposition after a long time. They always had a place in whatever form of government in power. Any slight opportunity extended will open the gate for them to go to join the government. Already their MPs supported the government to bring the 20th amendment defying the party loyalties.
Therefore, according to the balance of probabilities the move to form a ‘ginger’ group within the government by Ministers Weerawansa, Gamanpila and Vasudeva is a formidable step to reckon critically. The standing of these Ministers in the public eye is strongly recognized and their role play to bring the ‘Pohottuwa’ to power is unquestionably acknowledged with no reservations.
The chances are whether they quit or made to leave OR continue to remain they have established themselves as a force capable of balancing the activities of an otherwise wanton passage manoeuvred from behind regardless by those who claim the sole ownership of ‘Pohottuwa’. The flowing river of the progressive sector of the citizenry has many other rills to add on to its waters during its course.