16 December, 2019

Blog

Will Ranil Short-Circuit Sajith?

By Amrit Muttukumaru

Amrit Muttukumaru

The run-up to the Presidential Election due shortly is throwing up a range of possibilities some of which are cause for concern. Irrespective of who wins or loses, the prospects for the country are bleak. The country will limp along as it has done for 71 years since independence from one catastrophe to another. Due to a multitude of reasons, big power politics will not allow the country to be a classic basket case.

None of our leaders of the past or for that matter front runners for the presidency even today are addressing the core issues bedeviling this country which include (i) absence of national unity (ii) selective application of the rule of law (iii) no accountability in public life (iv) ignoring the real causes of income inequality and poverty. None of our leaders are willing to acknowledge that a Secular State is a sine qua non for national unity and progress. 

GR’s Eligibility

Former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa was anointed as the presidential candidate of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) by his elder brother and leader of the party former President Mahinda Rajapaksa at its convention held on 11 August. The convention was choreographed  with military finesse. Although Gotabaya does not have the commanding stage presence and oratorical skills of his brother Mahinda, he nevertheless acquitted himself well in his acceptance speech although in content it was not too different from political speeches we have come to expect.  

Gotabaya’s nomination is controversial due to his questionable eligibility to be a candidate since the renunciation certificate of his US citizenship has still not been made public. The question arises as to how he has reportedly obtained a Sri Lankan passport devoid of dual citizenship and a National Identity Card. There is speculation that the present regime – particularly PM Ranil Wickremesinghe has assisted him in obtaining these documents. If this is the case it has several implications.

One wonders whether the US is taking Gotabaya Rajapaksa to the brink hoping to extract what it has so far failed to obtain from the Yahapalana government vis-à-vis proposed controversial agreements such as the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) in the belief that GR will most likely be the next President of Sri Lanka.  It is widely perceived that PM Wickremesinghe is a US Proxy who does not have the political clout to deliver what the US wants. Would he not be a perfect fit for the US as opposition leader or even Prime Minister under a GR presidency?

The ‘Colombo Telegraph’ article of 5 August 2019 The Gota-Ranil Pact: Revealedif factual throws further light on this issue. 

Sajith’s Candidature

In the background of severe infighting within the ruling United National Party (UNP) as to who will be its presidential candidate, it has now practically come down to its leader PM Ranil Wickremesinghe and Deputy leader Sajith Premadasa. 

Sajith’s faction is said to consist of influential persons within the UNP which include Party Chairman – Kabir Hashim, former UNP Chairman and Ranil confidante – Malik Samarawickrama, Finance Minister – Mangala Samaraweera, Minister of Telecommunication – Harin Fernando and women leaders cum Ministers – Chandrani Bandara and Thalatha Atukorale. As against this, PM Ranil as Party Leader controls the party machinery which include the all powerful Working Committee.

On a nationwide popularity basis, it is widely perceived that Deputy leader Sajith Premadasa is by far the front runner among possible UNP candidates.

The Sajith Premadasa faction fired the first salvo in the UNP presidential stakes by having what can be described as a hugely well attended and impressive political gathering in Badulla at which many influential UNP politicians and ministers were present to announce Sajith’s candidature. It was well organized mainly by popular Badulla politician and minister, Harin Fernando. Sajith acquitted himself well in his acceptance speech although in content it did not deviate much from political speeches we have come to expect. His stage presence and delivery can be said to be superior to that of PM Ranil.

Irrespective of who is fielded by the UNP, the practical reality is that the acrimony is such that it plays right into the hands of the SLPP candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa. In this scenario, is it far-fetched to believe that PM Ranil’s faction may work against the success of Sajith?

Feuding Rajapaksas?

The infighting in the UNP camp could to some extent be offset by what is believed in some quarters to be the potential for feuding within the Rajapaksa family  in relation to (i) The possibility that Gotabaya will upstage elder brother Mahinda particularly if he becomes President  (ii) The possibility that GR may not support MR for the position of Prime Minister (iii) Implications for the political future of MR’s son Namal who comes nowhere near to match the immense political clout of his father or even the lesser clout of his uncle GR (iv) Perceived feuding among some of the wives of the Rajapaksa brothers. 

If any or all of this is true, is it far-fetched to believe that some sections of the Rajapaksa family may even work against the success of Gotabaya so as to safeguard their personal interests? 

Conclusion

Despite the misguided prognostications of some ‘experts’, the presidency continues to wield substantial executive power notwithstanding the highly controversial 19th Amendment with questionable legality. This is particularly so in the context of a strong and charismatic individual holding office with a supportive Prime Minister.

Many of those seeking political office have allegations against them for corruption, abuse of power, plundering of the national wealth or dereliction of duty and in some cases allegations of violence which include kidnapping and even killings. Are not those who stridently made such allegations even at press conference in the run-up to the 2015 presidential and general elections and did virtually nothing when in office guilty of neglect of duty or falsehood? Worse is their government’s corruption which include the terrible Treasury Bond scam arguably the largest financial scam to hit this country in its post-independence history and absence of accountability. The muted response of the opposition exemplifies the rot in the governance of this country.  This is the ground reality in this country which is in the midst of another presidential election.

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Latest comments

  • 13
    4

    Its crystal clear RW does not want to give up his power within the party, which unfortunately comes at the expense of the whole country since he has proven beyond doubt that his mismanagement, inefficiency and utter disregard to criticism while keeping a few of his loyal henchmen in the WC to back him with no self-thinking powers of their own. Why can’t he go for a secret vote and determine the most suitable candidate for the most important job in the country? RW is a complete idiot who wants to keep his position at any cost even if the party breaks into two or three, the party which was formed with lofty principles for a united Sri Lanka is now in the verge of collapse due to his selfish, most stupid manoeuvres to meet some others whims or for his own political doom.

  • 11
    1

    Well written Sadly none of the present aspirants will agree to a secular state which as you say is sine qua non.The first one in the field is already doing the rounds of visiting places of worship and meeting clergy.The others will follow suit.
    Let’s hope the JVP throws up a candidate of a secular mindset

  • 3
    1

    There is a heavy battle for subjugating buddhists. In that back ground, it is just greed and self sabotage Buddhist politicians. All two major parties and other smaller parties are working for they themselves.

  • 7
    0

    So what happened to Mr. Sirisena, all his hopes are dashed to the ground. His secretary Dayasiri is blowing hot and cold about their people jumping to other band wagon. MR & Co played a good game with Sirisena for they never forget the back stabbing after eating Aappa.

  • 4
    6

    The speculations as to the existence of family feud over GoRa’s ticket are absurd. The suggestion that GoRa would, if elected, dump MaRa from the PM post is even more absurd. Instead, I now firmly believe that the usual kinds procrastination about what would happen after the election are meaningless and that the time has come to think of danger of the likely-hood of a quasi or full military type of Gvt if GoRa would win!

    The crucial factor unique to this election is GoRa’s well known abuse of power in order to accomplish his wishes and most importantly his unstable mental condition of inability to control anger which, I think, may explains his dangerous character.

    What if GoRa has a secret plan concocted with the approval of MaRa himself to abolish the constitution? With the ability to control Tri-Forces & the police, who could stop him if he would decide to do so? In such a scenario, there is no need to dump MaRa in order to form a national Gvt with Ranil which would never be allowed by the UNP supporters. I think that, with GoRa, SL is not in usual politics and therefore, the whole country must act together to avoid a huge potential risk!

  • 8
    1

    There are no good leaders among the Sinhalese and there never will be.

    • 5
      1

      Estate Labourer:-
      There are no Good Leaders among the Sinhalese, because the Sinhalese will not allow a Good Person to become a Leader, because of their Their Jealousy!
      As they used to say in the Old days, ‘Sinhalese will stop Good Sinhalese People entering Heaven, by Pulling them Back!’

      • 5
        2

        M A Sumanthiran of the TNA will make a very good Prime Minister or President.

        • 1
          0

          Suren
          He is effectively a UNP politician, so there is hope for you.

          • 0
            0

            SJ: Would you recommend another line for Sumanthiran to take?

  • 7
    1

    Well written It is a secular state that is needed Unfortunately the declared aspirants and other hopefuls are already visiting religious dignitaries and places of worship Let’s hope the JVP throws up a secular candidate

  • 3
    3

    Bond Scam.. What Bond Scam.. Dr Ranil wants to be the Yahapalana President..

    And Dr Ranil even told the media that his ex Royal mate Dr Mahendran is the only one who can develop our Nation so that Keselwatta Kid can give Houses to all, and Dr Ranil can give Gym Kits to Dalits to build up muscles like Dr Ranil’s UNP Body Builder Minister Ranjan.

    Mr Navin Didssanayaka a Senior UNPer and a throughbred Elite for that matter, with a Heavy Weight class UNP father as well, made a brave statement the other day which Dr Ranil couldn’t make in Four and a Half Years after Dr Ranil signed the Yahapalana MOU with the Vellala Party boss Sampathar and the GFT Boss Suren Surendran.

    Minister Navin said they must give Mr Sampathar and the Vellala Party TNA full land Rights and a Tamil Police to rule their Homeland.

    This is the first time any Minister in a ruling Government made such a game changing declaration .
    And I take my Hat off to Mr Dissanayaka.

    Wonder what those two Head Butting UNP Elite and Dalit Factional Leader Candidates have to say about Mr Dissanayaka’s statement which in fact is the core issue of the next UNP Government .

    Are they going to agree with Mr Dissanayaka or Are they going to rebut it?.

    Mr Samapathar openly said that he has no option but to take up arms because Dr Ranil didn’t fulfill his Yahapalana promises in the MOU.
    So the crucial issue for both Dr Ranil and his Deputy is to respond to Mr Sampathar.
    Otherwise Mr Sampathar has no other option, other than lobby the Diaspora . UNP London and the West to get Mr Navin Dissanayaka the nomination as the UNP Presidential Candidate..

  • 6
    0

    …….None of the leaders are willing to acknowledge that a secular state is a sine qua non for national unity and progress…….
    Spot on Amrit.M.
    This indeed is a Theorem in much the same way as the Triangle inequality Theorem which says that the sum of the lengths of any two sides of a Triangle is greater than the length of the third……

    Frankly,whether it is Ranil.W. or Sajith P. or Gota it will be back to square peg one, back to business as usual.

  • 3
    0

    “Will Ranil Short-Circuit Sajith?” It’s not a question if “Will”. Rather its obvious as to why RW “has” and will continue to short circuited Sajith. As a result, the UNP will lose the services of Sajith as he is now bound to contest as an independent if Ranil does not step aside is what I was told yesterday from a close Sajith insider. There is not a sorry loser such as RanilW that I can think of through our Sri Lankan political history. Such a losing track record deserves to force RW retirement than to be sent “retired hurt”. This is why even those nieces and relatives of RanilW WILL NOT vote for him if he will ever contest. Ponil is HISTORY!!! Time to pack the ‘Royal’ p*nnaya to a political graveyard.

  • 1
    1

    I think, Ranil offer Sajith the Presidential Candidacy in return , Ranil expects the PM post or Opposition leader post from Sajith. That is what Ranil did with Maithripala sirisena. Probably, Ranil asked gotabhaya Rajapakse too to allow him stay as the Opposition leader if he wins.

  • 2
    9

    Ranil is the only hope for the country

    • 6
      2

      Mrs . Perera
      Which country ? A few more years with him as PM and there won’t be a country .

    • 4
      1

      Mrs I Perera,
      Ranil may be your only hope but for the country the bugger is a bloody CURSE.
      I would suggest that you pay a visit to “Vision Care” and check out your eyesight as there is something radically wrong with it. The only thing you can see is bloody Ranil and nothing else. Its a pity that short sighted specimens like you survive in a beautiful land of plenty and i hope that Ranil your idol will very soon bring you down to beggary where you will have to survive on boiled grass.
      Curse you , curse Ranil and curse all with your kind of warped thinking.

    • 2
      2

      Are you the Mrs Perera who is staying at Ranilwatte ???????
      Be careful as Ranil is a nocturnal visitor to his neighbors.
      The man is noted for his nefarious activities and you may be a victim unless you like him and his queer ways.

    • 1
      0

      Mrs Perera,
      why don’t you apply to be Ranil’s bodyguard. He likes people with your thinking.
      At one time when he was minister of education his bodyguard was Gonawila Sunil a notorious thug and rapist. This is the type of arsehole who may be your only hope but not for the country. People like you and Ranil should be locked up in a concrete room with no windows left to rot and the key thrown away never to be found again.
      Its no wonder that a lovely country like Sri lanka has never progressed because of wankers like you and Ranil W.
      Hope that GR comes into power because he will whip your bloody arse into discipline and make a better sri lanka.

  • 1
    0

    Mrs I Perera,
    Ranil may be your only hope but for the country the bugger is a bloody CURSE.
    I would suggest that you pay a visit to “Vision Care” and check out your eyesight as there is something radically wrong with it. The only thing you can see is bloody Ranil and nothing else. Its a pity that short sighted specimens like you survive in a beautiful land of plenty and i hope that Ranil your idol will very soon bring you down to beggary where you will have to survive on boiled grass.
    Curse you , curse Ranil and curse all with your kind of warped thinking.

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