By Mass L. Usuf –
‘Rate Asthawarathwaya’ is a Sinhala term. ‘Rate’ means, the country’s. ‘Asthawarathwaya’ means, instability. This is what Sri Lankans experienced the past week with the closure of the local government elections. The dollar equivalent of the rupee shot up to an unprecedented Rupees 155/-. Hopefully, a short-term volatility caused by the Asthawara (unstable) climate that seems to be easing off gradually. If not, it may portend disastrous consequences to our fragile economy overall – import/exports, loan repayment etc. Sadly, how many of those who are governing us are aware of this? And, from among those who are aware, how many are truly and sincerely concerned about the good of the country?
Power brokering for self-survival takes precedence over the country’s survival. Let the country be damned! No one says so but their behaviour clearly tells us so. Of course, the country would come first for any of these shameless folks if they can score a point over the other. Thus, there is stark selfishness there too.
Today, every other person in the street is speaking about the instability in the country. There is a growing sense of apprehension given the uncertain political climate that is prevailing. ‘Mona Waida’ (what will happen) is a question to which answers are not coming forth that easily. Earlier citizen Perera was not so much bothered about what was taking place within the confines of Diyawanna Oya or in the air-conditioned offices and residences of the ‘elite’ lot, who call themselves as politicians. Citizen Perera was burdened with enough worries of his own thinking how to make ends meet. This poor fellow is now additionally burdened and is in mortal fear wondering what is in store for him when he wakes up the next morning. The Directors of the drama are directing it and redirecting it and re-redirecting the scenes too very often that Citizen Perera’s mind is befuddled. Thus, the question from the petit bourgeois ‘Mona Waida’.
From whence did this instability rise is a question the answer to which may be perceived as hydra headed. The epicentre of this tremor was undoubtedly the recent local government election. The catalysts were the pre-election scavenging of rotten flesh by all sides and the post-election greed to savour the unripe fruit by the Pohottuwas and opportunists of the SLFP/UPFA.
Lambasting the UNP
The rumblings on the side of the Pohottuwas in the run up for election day is explainable and can be discounted. After all they are not in government. What was unexpected was the idiosyncratic behaviour of President Sirisena which greatly upset the equilibrium. This situation may be the result of downright lack of foresight on the part of the President.
In the days following the declaration of the local government elections, there was a gradual increase in the President’s rhetoric lambasting the UNP. This was found to be absolutely out of the normal. Everyone in their proper senses knows that if not for the UNP and its meticulous strategy Maithripala would not have become the President. Of course, much credit is due to President Maithripala for his bold decision to come out of the government and contest. As admitted by him, he would have been six feet under had he lost.
At the local government elections, he had a point to prove to the Rajapaksas. The objective being to win the elections and through that to consign the Rajapaksas to oblivion. Once that is done, automatically, all the riffraff who are like a thorn in his flesh will have no shade to take refuge under. May be in his assessment these are slimy patriots, racist scumbags, opportunistic nationalists, pretentious economic pundits et al. All of them would figuratively, vaporize into thin air.
Convince The Masses
If Maithri, as he is affectionately called, is to achieve this goal he had to convince the masses that the Rajapaksas are worthless and do not deserve sympathy or any sort of consideration whatsoever.
In doing this he unwittingly forced the people to listen to the same refrain about the Rajapaksas that they had been hearing since the 2015 Presidential election. On the other hand, he had been probably suckered by those around him to go up the gum tree, in opening up a new battle front with the UNP. His tirade against the UNP on the election platforms was unacceptable especially, after running the government together for three years. The UNPers were taken by surprise at this blitz. The objective was, as some may opine, to garner as much votes as possible and show a strengthened SLFP under his leadership. The expectation would have been to usher in the disgruntled and the opportunists from both the UNP and the Joint Opposition into SLFP. Finally, at the opportune time to say bye, bye to the unity government. The marriage of convenience in any case ceased to exist in the latter part of last year.
On both counts President Sirisena failed. He neither defeated his arch opponent former President Mahinda Rajapaksa nor did his vituperative against the UNP give him an electoral advantage. His despondency is understandable since he was on full throttle with his fiery speeches on the campaign trail. The end result did not augur well for the leader of the SLFP, an utterly disappointing 6.26%.
The ‘Pohottuwa’ which many thought would wither away to the disbelief of everyone bloomed. Even the ‘Pohottuwa’ crowd would not have expected such a victory. Energised with renewed hope, they did not lose time in trying to muster public opinion to the effect that the people have rejected the unity government. In the aftermath of the surprising victory even the Pohottuwa probably did not know how to manage the situation. Confusing statements were made from that camp too. They openly asked for the position of the opposition leader; They wanted Parliament to be dissolved and fresh elections to be called; They wanted President Sirisena to break away from the unity government. The worst of the kind in the Pohottuwa clique even threatened to bring people to the street. Funnily, all this following a local government election. This is what happens when we hand over our fate and the destiny of the country to the simple fools and the educated fools. In any case, both type of fools despise wisdom.
The panic hit SLFP/UPFA were plagued with angst looking into an unpredictable tomorrow. Like citizen Perera, they too were wondering within themselves ‘mona waida?’ (what will happen?), though they had to put on a brave face to the media. On hindsight the SLFP/UPFA lot would have realised the folly of this attempted coup de grâce against the partner of three years. Hopefully sanity will prevail and these politicians will think in terms of the greater benefit to the country and act honourably.