Whoever wins Ranil will be the loser -Part 1
Posted on December 14th, 2014

H. L. D. Mahindapala

What political analysts have failed to grasp so far is that the current presidential election is essentially a home-and-home match.  This is not a contest between the Government and the Opposition, or the SLFP and the UNP, plus  the other minor parties. Though other parties have joined in  the fray, this election is a straight fight between the Mahinda Rajapakse-wing of the SLFP and the Sirisena-Chandrika-Mangala wing of the SLFP. Others in the Opposition like Ranil Wickremesinghe are bit players carrying the torch for the Sirisena- wing of the SLFP. 

 This will become clearer if Maithripala Sirisena wins on January 8, 2015. As Rajiva Wijesinghe stated in his interview with C. A.  Chandraprema, the SLFPers will rush to Sirisena on  January 8, 2015 if  he wins the election. And Sirisena will not reject them either. He will embrace them partly because of loyalty to them (after all blue blood is thicker than green blood, no?) and partly because he needs their political backing to survive. He already has the UNP and other minor parties, including the TNA though covertly, in his bag. What he needs now is the backing of those in the Mahinda Rajapakse-wing. 

 At this stage the two wings of the SLFP will be contesting for more  than power at the centre. Their battle will be for the control of the SLFP as well with Chandrika Kumaratunga claiming ownership as the daughter of the founder of the Party, S. W.R. D. Bandaranaike. If and when her protégé  comes into power there is a possibility  of Chandrika Kumaratunga regaining the mantle of the SLFP leadership.

 Chandrika Kumaratunga’s importance will grow because she has played the key role behind the scenes for  the cross-overs. She has been  the linchpin in the covert operations to undermine the Mahinda Rajapakse regime. Her claim to leadership will come by reclaiming the party back to the Bandaranaike family, as opposed to the Rajapakse family. The Queen of Deceit” – the most corrupt and inefficient of all the corrupt and  inefficient politicians who have come to power since Sri Lanka gained independence in 1948” (Victor Ivan) — will once again hope  to climb and occupy the throne of power. First she climbed to power on the coffin of her father. This  time she can climb on the political marginalization/demise of Sirisena.

 Sirisena is merely the mask behind  which both Kumaratunga  and Wickremesinghe are dancing. How long he can survive at the top,  particularly if he hands  over the  presidential powers to Wickremesinghe, is anybody’s guess. Besides, the Coalition he is supposed to lead  is  in itself a temporary lean-to that can be blown away in next gust of winds.

 Chandrika Kumarantunga and Wickremesinghe have put together the most unworkable coalition of extremists  – UNP-TNA-JHU in the main – for a change of personalities (not regimes) that  will not last long. This is one of the reasons why wishy-washy Sirisena, who is neither green nor blue in his new capacity as the head of the Coalition, lacks legitimacy in the eyes of the SLFPers in the Mahinda Rajapakse wing. Whether he will have the political skill to hold the cows, the cattle, the pigs, the chicken in his version of  the Animal Farm is another question.  His lack-lustre past, with hardly any achievements to his credit – it is not a patch on that of Mahinda Rajapakse! – kept him in the background as a general factotum until he shot into the limelight as the Common Candidate in the presidential campaign.

 Even as  General Secretary of  the SLFP he was more or less a back room boy playing an obedient role to the leader, whoever it may have been. His alliance with UNP-TNA-JHU has not enhanced his image  either. On the contrary, in this new alliance he conveys, wittingly or unwittingly, the image of being the  toy-boy of Chandrika Kumaratunga without any inspiring/significant political  passion or vision that would have lifted him above the run-of-the-mill MP. His general demeanour is  that of a malleable  lump of putty in the hands of crafty manipulators.

 Of course, more details of his promises are due to be released in his manifesto which is not  available at  the time  of  writing. But so far he has been  making noises not to present a cohesive, progressive and structured alternative to  that of Mahinda Chintanaya, or for the future of the nation. So far he has  been announcing ad hoc measures that are, by and large, pie-in-the-sky promises that all candidates make just before elections and forget them the  day after. Offering morsels like not occupying the  official residence, or ruling from  Polonnaruwa  are gimmicks which will not have an  impact on  the  main course of events.

 The most dramatic event in his 37 year-old-career in politics is  his departure from  the SLFP to join hands with the UNP primarily. This is what is unnerving the SLFPers. They fear that Sirisena’s blind move means that the SLFPers will lose the upper hand they have had under Mahinda Rajapakse who still is in firm control of both the Presidency and Parliament.

 There is, however, a growing unease though, even among some of his close associates, that Sirisena blundered in signing the Siri Sangabo MOU” with Wickremesinghe. In his eagerness to quickly pave the way for his crossover he signed an MOU elevating Wickremesinghe to the status  of a president located in parliament. Sirisena promised to hand over all executive  powers to him.

 The first victim of the joint opposition, Gen. Sarath Fonseka, fought as a common candidate with a formidable Opposition backing him without signing a similar MOU. But this time Wickremesinghe got Sirisena to commit in writing that he would hand over all his powers to him. Naturally, this would have sent shivers down the spine of Chandrika Kumaratunga and Mangala Samaraweera who are  more seasoned and wily power-brokers than naïve Sirisena. Their reaction was  predictable. It has dawned on the SLFPers that Sirisena has signed a deal to take the powers vested in Mahinda Rajapakse-wing of the SLFP and hand it over to Wickremesinghe of the UNP without, of course,  the consent of  the people who are the legitimate owners of power in a democracy. The, one  fine morning, without any explanation or warning, Sirisena announced that he will retain the powers of the Ministry of Defence. Where does this leave Wickremesinghe?

Sirisena has committed two deadly sins against his own party : 1. he stabbed his leader in the back after conspiring  with the enemy secretly and, 2.more importantly, agreed in writing to hand over power which is in  the hands  of the SLFP to the UNP. This was a no-no, in any language, in any political system which is all about cut-throat struggles for power. Which power group would willingly hand over all its power to its traditional rivals? If this went  through unchecked Sirisena would have been crying in the wilderness like King Lear who handed his kingdom to his scheming daughters.

 In the meantime, CBK and Mangala woke up to the fact that there is nothing in the MOU for them if Sirisena hands  over all executive powers to Wickremesinghe. Who in their proper senses will trust Wickremesinghe to be democratic and liberal defender of  individual rights if and when he  is entrusted with all the presidential powers? He is bound to get drunk with power faster than Chandrika Kumaratunga left alone in a French wine cellar – and the consequences to the nation would be incalculable. .

 Obviously, what was needed was a mid-course correction. Under pressure from SLFP insiders, Sirisena back-pedaled quick fast but in low key which went unnoticed in the media and political circles. Sirisena came out  saying that not all powers will be handed over to Wickremesinghe. It  is reported that the JHU too had pointed out the blunder to Sirisena. So the noble Siri Sangabo who was going to hand over his head  — not that there is much in it! — has  now settled down to hand over a few of his fingers to Wickremesinghe.

 As of now the promise to abolish the Presidency has been put  on ice. So now it is clear that, after backtracking, Sirisena will be more than the ceremonial president that he  promised to be initially. He will retain the all-important powers vested in the Ministry of Defence. He will still be the Commander-in-Chief of the Security Forces. Other details of  whittling down the powers of the Prime Minister are yet to be announced. But all the pomp and  power that Wickremesinghe was expecting will be out of  his reach once again. He  will be reduced  to almost a nominal prime minister tasked to do all the  dirty work. Once again Wickremesinghe has signed an agreement – like the one he signed with Prabhakaran –that eventually has boomeranged on him.

To be continued   

5 Responses to “Whoever wins Ranil will be the loser -Part 1”

  1. Christie Says:

    India will not pass any power to Ranil. India made a mistake by backing Mahinda thinking India will be able to manage the island as it did after 1951.

  2. Christie Says:

    Yes Mahindapala I agree with you it is Chandrika pulling the strings and I tell you her saree pota is in the hands of India in the same way SWRD’s wettiya was in the hands of India. Nehru never trusted DS or Sir John, Singh never trusted Mahinda and same applies to Modi. Indian establishment will never leave the Sinhalese alone until they disappear from the earth.

  3. NeelaMahaYoda Says:

    Mahindapala

    Sirisena going to be worst than Fonseka

    He says he will close international airport at mid night on 8th January and will allow only with his permisson to leave or enter to the country.

    ලබන ජනවාරි මාසයේ අටවැනිදා රාත‍්‍රී 12 වන විට කටුනායක ගුවන්තොටුපළේ දොරවල් වහනවා. අපි ඕන අයට විතරයි යන්න එන්න දෙන්නේ’ඔහු මෙසේ පැවසුවේ පඬුවස්නුවර පැවති ප‍්‍රචාරක රැස්වීමක් අමතමිනි.

  4. SA Kumar Says:

    he will close international airport at mid night on 8th January- Both brother need to fly to USA on 11th !
    What life , You Lord Govdama Bhudda You always Right .Life is circle ! Now I trust you ( Not believe).

    We Hela Demilaya can relex now. Hope & prey Our Thesiya Thalaran in rest in peace.

    You modayas & we Sakkiliyas never learn for last 2,500 years .

  5. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    NOBODY CAN CLOSE THE AIRPORT AT MIDNIGHT ON 8th JANUARY 2014.

    THAT WOULD BE UN-AUTHORISED AND ILLEGAL ENTRY TO THE AIRPORT.

    THE BALLOT BOXES ARE STILL AWAITING TO BE COUNTED, AND IS NOT COMPLETE.

    IF SIRISENA IS LEADING AT THAT TIME, THAT DOES NOT MEAN HE IS WINNING. HE HAS TO WAIT TILL THE LAST BALLOT IS COUNTED.

    IN ANY CASE SIRISENAS WIFE AND THREE CHILDREN ARE LEAVING FOR LOS ANGELESE AT 2.00AM ON 8th JANUARY 2015. TICKETS HAVE BEEN BOUGHT FOR AROUND RS.2,000,000.00

    THE POLICE MUST BE INSTRUCTED TO ARREST ANY UN-AUTHORISED, ILLEGAL ENTRY AND ILLEGAL INSTRUCTIONS TO AIRPORT AUTHORITIES.

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