By Helasingha Bandara –
Is the President in a dilemma?
Recent media reports hinted that President Maithripala Sirisena is in a dilemma regarding the forthcoming parliamentary elections. Is he? A very brief reply to that question is an emphatic “no he isn’t”. His position as the President of Sri Lanka is secured for the next four and a half years. If he does not concentrate in contesting a second term, he has no obvious political calamity in sight. To change the deep-rooted, abhorrent political culture of Sri Lanka he may need the help of like-minded people. Nevertheless, he can do it on his own if he intends to do it. If the king practises Dasa Raja Dharma, others would invariably follow, they have no choice! Only if the king urinates standing, the followers do it running.
Yes it is. Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s premature Presidential election tactic backfired. Opportunism is not a virtue! Some elements of the UNP claim that 80% of the votes cast in favour of Maithri at the recent Presidential election were the UNP votes. This is misleading. A combination of many factors contributed to the victory of MS. The combination was the UNP, all minority parties, a section of the SLFP, the people who were fed up with the corrupt governance who sought a change etc. The false belief emanated from the results of the Presidential election has led the UNP to be convinced that it can win on its own. This has created a dilemma within the party whether to go alone or to contest as a united front. If the party decides to be opportunistic it can backfire the same way it backfired on MR. The country needs a good bunch of people to rule it irrespective of which party they belong to. The UNP has to be mindful of that.
Is the SLFP in a dilemma?
Yes it is. The defeat of MR has not taught a lesson to the majority of the SLFP MPs. They have chosen to ignore the fact that MR was defeated for the reasons that his persona was corrupt, nepotistic, cunning and egocentric, his governance was inefficient and ineffective and his politics were destructive and divisive. They have not realized that parliamentary elections are different from the Presidential election that the voting pattern can be influenced by very many external factors. The insistence on bringing back Mahinda is understood by right minded people as a means to avoid indictments and to retain corrupt practices because MR allowed all that to happen during his reign. The dilemma of the party is whether it is wise to remove all those who are clamouring for the return of MR and go along with a new breed.
President Maithripala Sirisena has the greatest opportunity to change the destructive, stale and undesired political culture of Sri Lanka. Being the head of the SLFP he has the authority to make changes within the party. Making drastic changes to an existing entity on his own is a frightening prospect. In this case he has the backing of the former President Chandrika Bandaranaike who is the daughter of two former prime Ministers. Her father was the founder of the SLFP. It is foolish to write off the support for the Bandaranaike name within Sri Lanka at any given time. In addition he has the support of some brave politicians who rocked the MR boat at the previous election.
Failing to contest the parliamentary elections as a united front of the people who fought MR at the election, MS should make his own list for the SLFP candidates. That list should exclude Mahinda Rajapaksa, Basil Rajapaksa, Chamal Rajapaksa, Namal Rajapaksa, Mervin Silva, Duminda Silva, Johnston Fernando, Sajin Vass, SB Dissanayake, Muthuhettigama, and all others who are known to be criminals. Also exclude everyone who actively participated in the campaign to bring Mahinda back.
When a drastic change is made, it would wake the people up, provoke their thoughts and ignite their rational faculties. People have shown that they can distinguish between good and evil and they will no doubt recognize that the change has been made for the better. Fortune favours the brave. President, you should not be another Ambanwela Rala who let Rajasingha II, the killer king, go unscathed when he overran Rajasingha’s palace in Kandy and finally paid with his life for the folly. Therefore, go for the kill!