Will Fonseka be the suicide-bomber for Ranil? -Part II
Posted on December 2nd, 2009

H. L. D. Mahindapala

Whether General Sarath Fonseka wins or loses there is no doubt that, at the end of it all, Ranil Wickremesinghe will be the loser. If Fonseka loses it is Wickremesinghe who will have to cop the flak. It will prove once again that he is a born loser. In the unlikely event of a win credit will go invariably to Fonseka and not to Wickremesinghe. So either way Wickremesinghe is a loser. What is worse, if Fonseka wins Wickremesinghe will have no power to force him out and grab power from him. Wickremesinghe will be a loser in this respect too.

According to his late uncle, J. R. Jayewardene, the constitution bestows on Fonseka unbridled political power to do anything he pleases with Wickremesinghe, except turning him into a woman. Fortunately, Fonseka will not have to go that far because Wickremesinghe, ever since he took over the UNP, has been behaving like a cantankerous and frustrated wattiamma returning home without selling a single halmassa. Therefore, the voters and the UNPers, in particular, have a right to ask what substantial good Wickremesinghe has done to the nation and to the party. He is a self-confessed failure. In asking Fonseka to contest on his behalf he is making a public confession that he can’t even contest an election to save his skin. Sri Lanka has produced many firsts like the first woman prime minister, the doosra, and even the world’s deadliest terrorists. In Wickremesinghe, however, Sri Lanka has produced the first political hermaphrodite (napoonsakaya) who had lost around 18 elections and still claims to be a leader.

As things stand now Fonseka comes across better than Wickremesinghe in public. He sounds more convincing than Wickremesinghe at press conferences. And he fields the questions succinctly giving answers that seem to be appropriate for the moment though practically everyone of it can be faulted on grounds of credibility. Even when he says that “We are good friends now” referring to the new alliance with Mangala Samaraweera “”…” his erstwhile critic who said that Fonseka was not even fit to lead the Salvation Army “”…” he sounds genuine. He looks as if he has mastered the art of politicking quick-fast.

However, these are early days and there could be many a slip between now and January 28th. What Fonseka needs in the run up to the election “”…” and also in the long term — is a consolidated political base. If he wins the presidential race he could easily take over the reins of the UNP “”…” and that wouldn’t be bad thing for the UNP and the nation. Wickremesinghe should have been booted out at the end of each election he lost. Hopefully the UNPers will have the guts to do the needful after January 28th.

In the meantime, Wickremesinghe, like an incorrigible habitual, reverts to his failed tactics of forming alliances. First he made a grand alliance with the best Tamil military tactician. Now he has formed an alliance with the best Sinhala tactician who beat the best Tamil tactician. He had tried every possible tactic “”…” from “juck-muck” politics in bullock carts to dragging dogs out of the Colombo Municipal pound — and failed. Can he win with Fonseka? When N. Ram, the editor of The Hindu, asked President Rajapakse about the threat posed by Prabhakaran, he replied: “He comes from the jungles of the north. I come from the jungles of south. Let’s see who wins!” This time round President could says: “We both come from the south. Lets see who wins!”

From the sidelines Wickremesinghe is cheering Fonseka in the hope that he will be the ultimate beneficiary of his victory. He is backing Fonseka in the hope that he will not only dissolve the presidency, if he wins the race, but also make him the Prime Minister. This is one of the most bizarre thought bubbles ever floated in politics. This stipulation also goes against every bone in Fonseka’s body politic. In short, Wickremesinghe is asking Fonseka to do another Siri Sangabo “”…” hand over President Fonseka’s head on a platter to Prime Minister Wickremesinghe. No one believes that contemporary Sri Lankans are about to witness the rebirth of Siri Sangabo on January 28th and his instant death after declaring Wickremesinghe as the Prime Minister.

If Fonseka’s forthright statements at the press conference are any guidance to his future role then it is abundantly clear that he is determined to stay put, without moving from the presidential chair, to clean up the place, as he states. He is promising to do many things. But from where is he going to fulfill his promises if he does a Siri Sangabo? He must have power to execute his promises. But he has promised Wickremesinghe to hand over his head to him soon after he wins the next presidential election. If Wickremesinghe has his way Fonseka will neither be a president nor a prime minister. So from which place is he going exercise power to fulfill his promises? His mission and goals defined by him are highly commendable. But which office will he be occupying to deliver his promises?

This is a glaring contradiction that he and Wickremesinghe have yet to explain. Take, for instance, Fonseka’s promise to “get his hands dirty to clean up the garbage.” That is a huge task like cleaning the Augean stables which will take years, perhaps the remaining years of his life. His task, if he is going to be fair and just, as promised, should not stop at the Rajapakse regime. It should extend to the Wickremesinghe regime as well because he and his UNP caboodle ran one of the most corrupt regimes, suppressing dissent (he forced Paul Harris, the independent journalist from Janes Weekly and Daily Telegraph to get out of the country within twenty four hours) and bootlicking the West, just to mention a few. So after winning the presidency and handing it over to Wickremesinghe is he going to be the next head of the Bribery Commission working, perhaps, under Dr. Jayalath Jayawardena who will want to give contracts to his sisters, aunts and nieces? .

This whole scenario is the biggest farce in which Wickremesinghe is trying to take Fonseka for a ride and vice versa. What is worse, both are working together to take the public also for the greatest ride of their life. There is also a line which Fonseka delivered at the press conference which may have serious consequences to Wickremesinghe. He said: “The country needs a leader who loves the country. (How does Ranil fit into this description?) I don’t know whether leaders in the past have been able to prove themselves to the expectations of the people to say that they really love the country. They would have said so in words but they have to do so in action and deeds.”

Isn’t this a Freudian slip in which Fonseka describes Ranil better than anyone else? Besides, he uses a broad brush to tarnish all leaders of the past without exception and though he may be hinting at the Rajapakses it also includes Ranil, Mangala, Hakeem, etc. So from where would he begin to cleanup the Sri Lankan stables? How long does he need to that? And from which power base is he going to perform his duties?

Besides, all his calculations are based on him winning power without any guarantee from Wickremesinghe to retain power to do what he wants. The power struggle that is going to take place in the unlikely event of Fonseka winning is going to be fierce than the one he is facing with the Rajapakses. According to Ranil’s declarations Fonseka has no role to play other than to win the election and hand over power to him. Both pose serious problems of credibility. In the end the public will not be surprise to see Wickremesinghe whistling louder than ever in the wind.

Apart from that, all of Fonseka’s promises are predicated on him winning the presidential race. The whole purpose of Wickremesinghe’s current move to ride on the back of Fonseka is because he thinks his horse can carry his excess weight and win. But can he? Though Wickremesinghe still retains a substantial part of the UNP block vote he still lacks the nationalist vote in the south to tip the scales in his favour. He was earlier banking on the minority votes. Now he thinks his chances has improved by cutting into the Rajapakse vote through Fonseka. But even if he gets some of Rajapakse’s votes he is not getting the minority vote he expected to win. Nor is there a Prabhakaran to deliver a block vote to him.

One of the biggest blows came from the Arumugan Thondaman who has the capacity to deliver a sizeable block from his vote bank in the estates. He has come out committing himself to give unconditional support to Rajapakse. On top of that S. B. Dissanayake, his National Organiser who has some clout in the central hills, too many not put his full weight behind Wickremesinghe. Clearly the minority votes of the central hills are not going to swing Fonseka’s way. If that is bad it is getting worse in east and the north. Karuna and Pillaiyan, who have some say, too has pledged their support to Mahinda. Muslims of the East too are not fully behind Wickremesinghe’s side-kick, Rauf Hakeem.

What is left is the north. How would the north vote? What is heard on the grapevine is that TNA will field a candidate of its own “”…” most probably Sampanthan – for three main reasons:1. neither presidential candidate is appealing to them; 2 a Tamil candidate is necessary to maintain their political stance of not compromising on their demands and pushing for going beyond 13th Amendment and 3. deliver a strong message to the Tamil diaspora that the TNA has the electoral clout to be their representative on the ground. If a Tamil candidates pop up then the votes that Wickremesinghe and his candidate are expecting will not be there for them on January 28th. So the minority votes from the centre, the east and the north are not coming Wickremesinghe’s way the way he calculated.

Without the minority vote he has no chance of his riding his horse to the winning post. Nor is Mahinda likely to lose that much to Fonseka. At best Fonseka may shave off some from the edges but the swing shown at the local council elections will be hard to shift., unless something unforgivable happens between now and January 28th. The government must conduct its campaign with finesse and care. What happened at the Kelaniya Temple when Fonseka took his first step into politics is as deplorable as Fonseka crossing over to the enemies of the nation.

The people are tired of violence and if they are looking for a change it will be in the direction of finding peace in every street corner. So if the government hopes to win the election it must pack the likes of Mervyn Silva in a leaking boat without a paddle and let them loose somewhere in the middle of Nanthi Kadal Lagoon. Government must give full protection to Sarath Fonseka not only because he is still a target but also because it is the most convincing way of telling the people that they can depend on the government to give the people “”…” all the peoples “”…” the security and peace they deserve at the end of the 33-year-old Vadukoddai War.

One Response to “Will Fonseka be the suicide-bomber for Ranil? -Part II”

  1. Sepala Munasinghe Says:

    Very interesting analysis as always from Mr. Mahindapala.
    There is one matter which I feel should be addressed in regard to the forthcoming Presidential election.
    It is entirely conceivable that the General is the preferred candidate of the US/West; after all the Leader of the Opposition, who is a US/West ally has given the opposition support for the General’s candidature.
    I feel that the incumbent President would win the election. If he does, it is not beyond the opposition to launch an “Iran” style agitation, supported by the unkown forces of the US/West working in SL, that the elction was rigged.
    Those authorities who are in charge of the election in SL should see to it that the election process is absolutely fair and free to avoid this scenario from taking place in the island as well.

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