21 June, 2024


Who Won?

By Dayan Jayatilleka –

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

Who won the battle of the no-confidence motion? There were at two winners, not one. One of them won tactically and the other strategically. There were also many losers.

At the most obvious level, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe won. His party, or at least its parliamentary group and working committee rallied solidly behind him. The dissidents were silenced or fell silent. Ranil Wickremesinghe has homogenized his party at its upper levels. He is its undisputed leader for now, and no further challenge to his leadership will arise until the Presidential election next year. It is likely that the momentum of his recent victory will see him through to the candidacy of his party. It is also likely that his most obvious successor will stick to his original timeline of not accepting party leadership till after the 2019-2020 election season, when the results make the realities manifest and indisputable. So Ranil now has a clear run up to 2020. The battle to change the UNP leadership is over for now and has been won by Ranil.

The second victory was in Parliament. The Prime Minister clearly demonstrated his majority in the House. The Tamil and Muslim parties, with the exception of Mr. Arumugam Thondaman, rallied to his defense. Even more significantly, the bulk of the SLFP parliamentary group failed to rebel against him.

His third victory was in the power struggle with President Sirisena. That game is over, as is the game to dislodge him in parliament, which was in fact, the same game. Mr. Wickremesinghe won. President Sirisena lost.

The upshot is that the UNP remains as it is and what it is, while Prime Minister Wickremesinghe remains where he is. Once again, the effort to change the UNP leadership has failed (the earliest attempt I recall was in the late 1990s), this time, together with the effort to change him as PM. This is because Mr. Wickremesinghe obviously fits the self-image of the UNP’s decision-making strata, even while he fails to enthuse the UNP voters, leave alone voters in general.

The country and Mr. Wickremesinghe’s political rivals will have to reckon with a more homogenized government with a greater preponderance of UNP influence and ideology for the next 18 months. This is the UNP government and leadership that the Opposition will face. From here on in, it will be a frontal confrontation and zero-sum game, now that the project of intra-governmental change has ended in defeat. We shall now revert to the traditional pattern of Sri Lankan politics, with a UNP government of a predominantly Rightwing character, pushing a free-market fundamentalist and minoritarian agenda, with minoritarian support, and moving aggressively against its political opponents. The content of the parliamentary debate with its marked references to a new Constitution, Transitional Justice and Special Courts, made the policy agenda clear, just as the aggressive tone of the UNP speakers signaled the confrontational character of future politics.

Now all this is fairly visible and obvious. But it fails to adequately answer the question of ‘who won?’ If a person walks into a game or a battle and walks out with less than he had when he went in, he is a loser. Similarly, if a person walks out of a game or a battle with more than he had when he went in, he is a winner.

The only surprise about Mr. Wickremesinghe’s performance was that he didn’t lose most of the support he had. In other words, he retained much of what he had. But not all. As he told the media afterwards, the national unity government will go on, “though we lost some of our people”. By this he meant the significant number of frontline SLFP rebels. Looking at the scorecard, As Prime Minister he could not command the complete support of his government, his Cabinet and his main ally. Mr. Wickremesinghe retained most of what he had but lost some. He did not make a net gain. His was a net loss.

There was however, someone who walked out with more votes for his motion than he walked in, and that’s Mahinda Rajapaksa. When he walked in, the government had an internal struggle underway but it was not openly split. When he walked out, it was. The Unity government was undeniably disunited. It had also probably lost its two-thirds majority in Parliament.

In any serious political battle or indeed war, the crucial factor is constituted by the intermediate forces; those in the ground between the two warring camps. In Sri Lanka today, that factor is the SLFP. There is an old debate in political strategy as to whether the intermediate forces should be the target of political blows or whether they should be won over. Modern political strategy recommended both approaches in a combination known as “magnet and wedge”. Perhaps instinctively, Mahinda Rajapaksa used magnet and wedge to damage and dent the government while retaining every single one of his MPs.

Whether by design or instinctive tactical moves, Mahinda managed to score a major victory. The SLFP, the bulk of which he already had in terms of parliamentarians and votes, split once again. Though the new group of dissidents did not enter his camp, and may not, opting instead to maintain its autonomous identity, they converged with the JO in this crucial battle, and constitute a new foe for the UNP and a new front of opposition to the UNP. This new factor signals the transfer of what remains of the SLFP vote base to Mahinda, probably with these personalities, in an eventual alliance. Those of the SLFP—mainly the Chandrika faction—which chose to abstain, will reap the harvest of being perceived by their traditionally anti-UNP voters as collaborators with Ranil and the UNP.

While Ranil won the no-confidence vote in parliament, it was a tactical victory at great cost. The internal contradictions in the government have intensified. The government is in serious crisis. The SLFP is further splintered. President Sirisena has been gravely weakened. Overall the balance of forces has shifted even further in favor of Mahinda Rajapaksa than it did on Feb 10th. At the all-important level of the voters, it is highly doubtful that Ranil’s victory will enhance his popularity or that of his government. He can keep his party for as long as it wants him and he can keep his Prime Minister-ship until a new President comes along later next year. All this suits his main political challenger the JO, Mahinda Rajapaksa and the latter’s Presidential nominee whoever it is, quite admirably.

Only one man walked out of the parliamentary political arena or casino of the no–confidence motion, with more political chips, more numbers, potentially more political real estate, and an improved balance of forces, than when he walked in. And that man was definitely not Prime Minister Wickremesinghe.

What is more, that man, Mahinda Rajapaksa, has a higher percentage of the country’s vote than does Ranil Wickremesinghe, and that share of the vote will only grow with the SLFP rebellion, while the Prime Minister’s popular vote has yet to show any sign of growth or reversal of decline.

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Latest comments

  • 9

    why did mahinda and son not speak at the NCM
    because basil the political strategist advised them not to do so as it was a losing cause and will not help at the next election
    read what anura kumara said

    • 5

      Dayan, Get a life and better political analysis!
      Ranil and Mahinda are 2 sides of a coin. Both are equally corrupt and should share the same prions cell. They are partners in financial and hate crimes, and the political culture of money politics and immunity and impunity for corruption, evident in destruction of Central Bank and law and order and justice institutions, and attacks on minorities in Lanka.

      Meanwhile, the name of the US game with their foreign citizen Gotabaya Rajapaksa as the Avant Guard, Manchurian Candidate is: “Heads I win, Tails you lose”.

      Hence the existing UNP-SLFP bi-partisan political corruption racket, and Ranil’s protections for Mahinda Jarapassa family. Meanwhile poor Sirisena, the farmer, is out at sea and drowning!

      Either way the people of Lanka are screwed with Super power rivalry between China and its backing for corrupt MR and Mega POlis Pathala Champika who owns and operates BBS and Mahasohon Balakaya and the US/ India nexus and fake development advisers who draft policy in Ranil’s office.

      Long live Miracle of Modayas!

    • 2

      Even an animal, if he or she has problems with turning around the tongue, he or she would think twice, but DJ would not.

      This ballige putha would behave almost like his siamesian twin Wimal Nugath Weerawanse.
      What are the reasons if not Malice and abusive nature. Or this man should have all the mixed genetics to hang on with rascals by reciting welcome gayanas only for them.

      Even 10 year old would sense it but thi sman would not. Poor guy.

  • 2

    The general opinion standing out is, it is not the New King, Old Royals, Joint Comedy club are identified, but, more importantly, Sirasa, Hiru & Derana are the ones identified as who they are, by this NCM. I would not name individually, but would prefer to call as Colombo Media in general. It is ok to identify some as Sinhala Buddhist, not Sinhalese; still Colombo Media is better than Sirasa…… If no SLFP, it is UNP for them, If no UNP it is SLFP for them. They are the one and only, unique Colombo Media, including Lake House, the Appe Aanduwa’s PR & advertising agency.

    I hear, it was by the end of April 3rd, Thero had two versions of essays prepared, one for if NCM was a loss and one for if NCM got through, stressing in them both that was his prediction and in the end it was a loss for Ranil and victory for Slap Party. Then he ordered for his Foreign Label and “Chola Pori( Popcorn) and was watching the Parliament online peacefully. Once result was NCM lost, he right away posted his “Loss ” version essay in CT without delay and went finish the rest of the bottle calm and cool. His mood, once the essay was loaded in CT as “it was his prediction”, he started to sing the Rajini’s Popular Kallu Kottle song “Raman Aandalum Raavanan Aandalum Enakkoru Kavalai Ille” (Who does care whether there Raman is ruling or the Ravana is reuling,……….. I lost my job, but I know to earn and live- I have my both hands,, but let me show you my job now to you.) Ha ha ha …..

  • 4

    Great article DJ …interesting points.. fully agree with you. A “tactical victory at a great cost”!! Irrespective of how much sugar is coated on the subject the bitter truth is that this is a racial issue and the Sinhalese have now realized the way forward is to support a party inline with ITAK TULF MC etc etc. catering to a race rather than the nation.
    The future looks dark and uncertain but the game will go on..!!

  • 12

    The biggest loser was not JO , MR or MS but Maharaja Organisation & SIRASA !!!

  • 12

    DJ – what about the bribe you get to appear on TV1 from Maharaja simply to attack RW when there is no one invited to speak on defence. Journalism my foot.

  • 21

    Who Won.

    Democracy Won
    UNP won
    Ranil Won
    Dr. DJ lost
    Sillysena Lost
    Sirasa lost
    Killi Mahendran lost
    Shiral lost
    My3 Gooonartna Lost
    Azath Sally lost
    JO Jokers lost
    Thummulle wimalaya lost
    Gommanpila lost
    Ulapana Sumangalaya lost
    Keerthi Tennekoon lost.
    Most importantly the Entire MBC/MTV/Cheap media coolies lost

    • 2

      this is great! Best reply

  • 4

    Mr Dayan J..The end result of your long letter is that you want to say M R is the winner
    It is wrong.the 16 SLFP ers were all these days were undermining President and secretly meeting MR and dancing according to MR s tune. Now they got exposed and they will not be able to fool MS in future as they did before.
    Hence real loser is MR

  • 2

    ” So Ranil now has a clear run up to 2020.”

    How do we know another no confidence motion does not come up after another election.say provincial councils if SLPP do better than the UNP?The first motion has taken the vote to the 75% level of reaching the objective of 113 votes.So those who brought up the motion will think they have a chance of bridging the balance 25%.As macbeth said after his killing spree”returning would be more tedious than going over”.If you want to return you have to walk back 75Km,if you want to go over you have to walk forward 25Km.Which is better?I don’t think ranil is safe as dayan says he is.

    • 0

      i have made a mistake in stating 75%. Of of the 113 MP’s needed to topple ranil only 76 voted for the motion,which is 67%.So the balance to go is a third of the whole distance.the point i made that it is easier to go over than come back still stands.Everything will depend on the next provincial council election results,whether the UNP will beat the SLPP or not.IF even a divided SLFP which is now the SLPP can still beat the UNP,then ranil is in trouble.UNP’er’s are going to ask with ranil we cannot even beat the original SLFP minus the chandrika/sirisena faction.

  • 0

    “The Tamil and Muslim parties, with the exception of Mr. Arumugam Thondaman, rallied to his defense.”

    what about douglas devenanda and his one EPDP parliamentarian.Isn’t he a mahinda ape miniha?

    ” until a new President comes along later next year.”

    How do you know that maithri will not abolish the presidency?If he is not going to be supported by the UNP or JO for another term why should he continue to have the presidency.Anyway abolishing it was one of the promises he gave before election and as earlier presidents is trying hard for a second term the arseole that he is.wants to be president again even with gota the killer’s support.

    Anyway i think the next motion will be brought by the JVP to abolish the presidency and then we will see what the SLFP will do.The correct thing for maithri is to ask all MP’s in the parliament to have a conscience vote.Boo hoo hoo i forgot the bastards don’t have a conscience anyway.

  • 4

    MS was cornered by MR with his stooges, namely Susil, Dilan, John and the clan in to a pathetic situation. In 2020 there will neither be MS in the scene nor SLFP.
    How one can identify MS.
    A fool?
    An untrustworthy man?
    A Liar?

    • 1

      Ajith – “How one can identify MS”. I would say IGNORAMUS (having several meanings) which My3 won’t understand.

  • 5

    Dayan,i believe the main loser of this motion was mahinda.Namal is tweeting away very furious at maithri.he says maithri has now betrayed both mahinda by eating hoppers with him which should have been poisoned by namal,and then betraying the UNP with this motion and then again betraying mahinda and allowing 22 of his MP’s to abstain.What is he complaining i can’t understand because even if the 22 MP’s had voted that would be 98 votes ,well short of the 113 needed for the motion to pass.Where was namal baby hoping to get the bal of 15 MP’s needed to topple ranil.From heaven through wasim thajudeen?
    From this fury of namal it is obvious that the whole point of the motion was not to topple ranil,but to pit the chandrika faction against ranil,but it did not work because the chandrika faction prefers ranil to mahinda and has always been like that since the time of the 2005 presidential election when they worked clandestinely for ranil aginst mahinda and copped his fury after his narrow win.

  • 2

    According to this idiot Ven. Hegoda Vipassi Thera of “Dhamma Research Institute of Ratmalana.”
    what Dhamma Research does he do?

    “Prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is in a very tight spot, worse than the situation of King Alaw after getting caught by Alawaka the Demon, after he obtained conditional support from the TNA to win against the no-confidence motion, says Ven. Hegoda Vipassi Thera of Dhamma Research Institute of Ratmalana.

    The TNA made maximum use of the opportunity and it was not the PM, but the TNA that won in the no-confidence motion, he has told ‘Lakbima’.

    Buddhist literature has it that after Alawaka caught King Alaw, the latter got his life spared by promising to send him one human prey a day.

    Vipassi Thera notes that an entire country should not be destroyed to protect the power of one person.

    The TNA’s conditions are very dangerous ones, and it will be political suicide for the PM if he goes to fulfill them, he says.

    The north does not have an ethnic conflict, but a conflict between the have and have-nots, which should be resolved, the prelates adds.”

  • 1

    Dayan , , who cares ,who wins or looses ,you know deep down that our constitution with well fed myths to the common man makes no politician a true winner.

    With our constitution by the bandits for the bandits , All politicians are winners no matter on which side they are seated ,even a new candidate freshly into politics will end smelling Like fish gone stale three days in Parliament

    What a joke is our Constitution, The entire nation is at the mercy of the politicians ,and the law enforcement ,the judiciary. ,The clergies of all the religions and the Treasury included

    Hence victory for the people ,This bandit constitution is well packaged of outer covering with socio -Democracy ,but the truth is, inside it is everything that has access to abuse the entire nation and people in the name of Democracy and God .how convenient it must be even for great Dayans to blow their trumpets a loud .

    The day we have a Constitution truly in the control of the hands of the people and then if any man wins a leadership ,he will be the true winner and leader

    .Something The Famous Burmese leader often parroted but to date have not achieved it for her people

    Only when people controls the government there will be peace.

    Aung San Suu Kyi ,

  • 4

    Dayan, get lost with your mahadaenamuththa theories.. You are a shameless humbug still routing for Rajapaksa-jayalath

  • 4


    Perhaps Sirisena is trying to have the hoppers and eat it too.

    Do you remember in the 2000 elections the weeping widow voted for UNP out of loyalty to her own tribe, the son was contesting the elections as UNP candidate while she was being the leader of the SLFP?

  • 1

    Only thing we realized from the NCM is that TNA has Ranil by his balls ( assuming that Ranil has any).

  • 0

    Dayan , YOU LOST

  • 0

    Dayan has to swallow his vomit one more time. His unsolicited opinion that Mahinda Rajapaksa is the ultimate winner is hogwash. Dayan is like the man who fell on the ground but claimed his mustache is untouched.! Mahinda Rajapaksa has no new ideas of governance. He is stuck with Sinhala Only, Buddhist Only, Sinhalese Only philosophy. He is refusing to accept that Ceylon is multi-bilingual, multi-religious and multi-ethnic country. As long as he has the chauvinistic mindset he cannot win an election.

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