Ranil about to repeat Uncle JRJ’s end
Posted on September 21st, 2010

H. L. D. Mahindapala

 Four critical issues plaguing the UNP have come to a head all at once and the leadership is reeling not knowing how to tackle them: 1) unity of the party 2) democratization of the party 3) loss of credibility in electorate and 4) the leadership style/role. All four are linked directly to its current leader, Ranil Wickremesinghe. These four issues clearly signify the incurable malaise caused by the self-destructive  leadership. They represent the core issues that are tearing the party apart.

 And these issues have been brewing ever since Wickremesinghe took office in 1994. These factors are destabilizing the party because Wickremesinghe is totally incapable of handling them to his advantage. And he is incapable of handling them because he is cause of each one of them. All four combined explain why he has been a shaky leader who never had a grip on the party. Each time he attempted to deal with any one of these issues he came a cropper. Consequently, he has been playing it defensively trying to juggle his way through maneuvers that have incrementally brought down the party to what it is today. By way of analogy it can be said that he is guilty of reducing the elephant to a mouse without legs or a tail “”…” a remarkable feat in Sri Lankan political history.

 Sri Lanka has produce many unique firsts: a) the first woman prime minister b) the first dynasty in which the father, mother and daughter held the Numero Uno position; c) the first bowler to break all known records and reach the highest barrier of 800 wickets; d) the first group of terrorists to run a fleet and airplanes; e) the first terrorists to refine the suicide-bombers’ kit; f) the first nation to defeat the most deadly terrorist group; etc. And now we can add Wickremesinghe to that list as the first Leader of the Opposition (LoO) who lost 16 elections in a row and yet refuses to step down gracefully according the democratic traditions that he espouses as a member of the International Democratic Union (IDU).

 But his record does not end in that. He is also the first prime minister of a nation who pulled up the navy commander for defending the territorial borders by sinking Tamil Tiger boats. He is also the first prime minister of a nation who exposed the heroic soldiers as targets for the Tiger on the pretext of attempting to assassinate him. He is first leader of any parliament to have lost 53 MPs “”…” and counting. In the current parliament he is reduced to 43 and 28 have already signed a petition threatening to sit as independents, refusing to follow his leadership.

 A proto-type of a Wickremesinghe wouldn’t survive one day in any other democratic parliament. He knows that only too well. Nor would a born-loser like him ever dare to hang on to that position in any other democracy. It speaks volumes for the political culture of the present UNP. More than that, it reveals that he lacks self-respect or dignity. Practically, all respected political columnists, leader writers and leading analysts have slated him unsparingly. Even MTV and the Leader group which have been staunch defenders of Wickremesinghe in the past have abandoned him. Can all these groups be wrong and Wickremesinghe alone be right? Even the Times group which has some familial links to him finds it difficult to defend him. Surprisingly, Ruwan Wijewardene, the promising young nephew of Wickremesinghe, too is reported to have joined the reformists threatening to sit as independents in parliament. Rukman Senanayake gave him up long time ago. If the Senanayakes and the Wijewardenes are against Wickremesinghe why must the rest hang on to him?

 But Wickremesinghe carries on regardless with a skin thicker than that of a crocodile. Leaders like Dudley Senanayake and Gamini Jayasuriya resigned on far less important issue on principle. But on what principle does he insist on remaining as the leader? Latest word circulating in political circles is that John Amaratunga, a senior member of the UNP who had backed Wickremesinghe, is on the verge of crossing over. When the majority of the party at all levels “”…” from parliament to local government “”…” is rebelling against him shouldn’t he have even a modicum of self-respect to resign and give the democratic right for the party to elect a leader of their choice? Besides, Wickremesinghe is committed so much to his failed past that he has nothing new to offer his party or the nation.

 Clearly he is refusing to step down and face an open challenge because he knows that he cannot win in any party election. He can remain in the party chair only by avoiding an election. This explains why the President of Asian Division of the IDU is against the universally accepted democratic principle of electing the leader of the UNP. Can he name one leader in the IDU who would refuse to go for an election to test the will of the party, particularly when the party is rebelling and challenging the leadership bitterly? One of his former Minister’s, Tilak Marapone, PC, is now engaged in tinkering with constitutional changes. This is his last chance to avoid an election and remain as leader. If Marapone does another “jillmart” to keep Wickremesinghe in power then he will be signing the death warrant of the party. Whether he can produce a constitution that will heal the wounds and reconcile the warring factions is doubtful. UNP is need of radical changes to survive. The time for reconciliation is over. It is either Wickremesinghe or the Party. Will Marapone rise to save the party or stoop to the low level of Wickremesinghe and sink with him?

 Marapone can succeed only if he dismantles Wickremesinghe’s dictatorial grip on the party. Any wishy-washy compromise can only worsen the crisis. Wickremesinghe today is in the same constitutional corner that his uncle, JRJ was after he had constructed a constitution to stay in power forever. When the Uncle, the old fox, tried to manipulate the system to extend his term the party resisted even after a report was produced stating that there was no constitutional objection for him to carry on for an extended period. It so happened that when his Uncle was hoping to extend his term of life it was Ranasinghe Premadasa who was waiting in the wings. Now it is Premadas’s a son, Sajith, who is waiting to succeed the nephew. History never fails to repeat itself.

 In fairness to “JRJ” it must be said that he had the common sense to read the writing on the wall and give way to his successor. But his nephew suffers from a congenital disability to read the signs of the time. A leader who can’t read the use-by date deserves to be taken by the scruff of his neck and thrown into the nearest dustbin.

 It has come to a point where Wickremesinghe has forfeited the moral right to speak on behalf of the people because he suppresses the fundamental rights of his own members to exercise their democratic rights in electing a leader of their choice. This makes him a vulnerable target each time he criticizes the government for any violations of democratic principles. His pose as the defender of democracy rings hollow because it is more than a case of pot calling the kettle black. It is a case of the evil Devil quoting the Holy Scriptures: it is a self-serving manipulation of principles to make him look good. So each time he points a finger at the government four fingers are pointing at him.

 Obviously, he doesn’t care two hoots about what happens to his prestige, integrity and his overall image. Of course, this may be because he knows that there is nothing left in his image that can be salvaged. So he can afford to ignore the slings and arrows hitting him as long as he can enjoy the perks and privileges of being the LoO by being the leader of the UNP? Wickremesinghe is unashamedly exploiting the party and his henchmen for him to remain in office. He believes that the party is there to serve him and not vice versa. He should know more than anyone else that the party is in dire straits because of him and no one else. If he is a man of principles his duty is to save the party by resigning. But he prefers to let the party go to the dogs rather than saving it with one simple stroke: resigning.

 His betrayal of his own party, the democratic principles and the principles of the iconic founders of the party is not going to do him any good in the future. His name is destined to go down in history as the most disastrous failure in Sri Lankan politics. He has been a disaster not only to himself and his party but also to the nation. And when the time comes to write the history of our time the future will not only blame him but the party seniors who are hanging on to him, knowing that he is driving the party to a premature death. 

 The only saving grace is in the anti-Wickremesinghe forces that are aligned this time within the party as a formidable force. In the past the dissidents left the party in disgust with his leadership style. This helped him to stay at the top. This time it’s different: the dissidents are not running away. They are digging for a fight to finish. And it is clear that this time Wickremesinghe has to go. And if he doesn’t go then the party will have to go to pieces. Those who want him to remain as the head should ask one pointed question: what can he offer to revive the party and take it to victory against the most formidable political force in post-independent history? A handful of has-beens at the top are hanging on to the coat tails of Wickremesinghe fearing that their future will be lost if they abandon him now. But their future is in saving the party and not in saving Wickremesinghe. His popularity is like water in a toilet cistern: always going down into a hole from which it can never come up.

 All the issues threatening to destroy the party will disappear overnight if Wickremesinghe steps down. Then the UNP crisis will end and the party can look forward to a new era with a new leader.

4 Responses to “Ranil about to repeat Uncle JRJ’s end”

  1. Nihal Fernando Says:

    RW’s popularity is not like water in a toilet cistern but worse than that. It is more like a pubic hair on a toilet seat cover ready to get pissed off at any time. He is number one in many ways besides the author of this article has described. Holding meetings at open fair where people were busy buying their food stuff, etc rather listening to speeches that were not fair and square, honking horns while his supporters were riding on bullock carts and souting, “Ape gona apata honda” (no idea to whom they were referring), smashing pots and pans, and recently tearing off documents in the street. He was also the first LeO to take off from the parliament with his handful of henchmen to go and demonstrate in the street without facing the debate on the 18th amendment without giving a sound argument if he was against it. He was unable to do so because he was like a discordant note in a harmonious melody before the government after some of his own members voted for it. He should gracefully step down if he has something upstairs without waiting something downstairs telling him,”don’t hang around, now go”

  2. Ben_silva Says:

    Don has exposed the idiot RW many times. RW attempted to secretly sell the country to the Tamil terrorists, with his CFA. I wonder if he can be made accountable for exposing DPU and sending many security officers to their death.

  3. Gangdhi Says:

    What is needed in Ceylon is not attacks on personalities or parties..

    What is important is unity among the majority.

    The majority should do as they did up to 1951. The division of the UNP lead to the priviledged minority to run the country since 1956.

    The same faceless persons (or their sons and daughters and henchmen) are behind the Tamil terrorists.

    So let us refrain from vindictive actions that divides the majority in Ceylon.

    Let us unite to reclaim the the basic rights of the majority and reduce the pribiledges still enjoyed by a minority with the support of from a neighbour.

  4. dhane Says:

    “All the issues threatening to destroy the party will disappear overnight if Wickremesinghe steps down. Then the UNP crisis will end and the party can look forward to a new era with a new leader” THIS WILL NEVER HAPPENS. THERE ARE MANY BUSINESSMEN & OLD POLITICIANTS ARE BEHIND THE SEEN. THEY WANT RW TO HANG-ON SO THEY TOO CAN CONTINUE IN THEIR POSITIONS.

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