President Sirisena’s Dilemma
Posted on February 8th, 2015

Gamini Weerakoon Courtesy The Sunday Leader

The magic words of good governance (Yahapalanaya) have  become the political vernacular that have held together the disparate political forces to enable President Maithripala Sirisena to form a government even though the political alliance he forged  does not command a majority in parliament. But the fragility of this bond was apparent when old political rivalries flared up on the Mohan Peiris Affair and a threatened motion of no confidence against John Amaratunga, Minister of Public Order and Disaster Management.

But as pointed out in this column earlier since Jan 8 the strength of this bond will be subjected to greater tests as the 100 Day Period comes to an end and political parties prepare for parliamentary elections. The role played by President Sirisena will be pivotal in furthering his political plans.

President’s problems

Having broken away from the SLFP he claimed he remained a member the party and was its general secretary even after he won the presidential election against the leader Mahinda Rajapaksa. Now many SLFPers having elected him the chairman of the party on kicking incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa upstairs, want him to lead the party at the parliamentary election against the UNP that made him win the presidential election. If Sirisena does so, he goes against the tremendous forces that were generated to make him president.

The Sirisena conundrum is many folds. Even though he is now the chairman of the SLFP he is well aware that sizeable number of members attacked him bitterly when he crossed over and contested against the party nominee Mahinda Rajapaksa. Sirisena cannot contest the parliamentary election and there is no clear leader now in the ranks of the SLFP. Defeated presidential candidate Rajapaksa, since he quit Temple Trees and helicoptered (courtesy Ranil Wickremesinghe)  to his native Medamulane to assure his fellow villagers that he will be president once again quite soon, is said to be preparing to lead the SLFP as prime ministerial candidate. Quite obviously Sirisena and Rajapaksa cannot be on the same side having accused each other of many things (to say the least) a few moons ago.

Enter Chandrika

There is former president Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga who is bitterly opposed to her former minister Rajapaksa as she clearly spelled it out in her TV (Sirasa) interview last week. She recalled how on telephoning Rajapaksa to congratulate him after he was elected president for the first time, she was roundly abused in filthy language (kunu harapa valing) for 19 minutes.  She made it quite clear in the TV interview, her key role in ousting Rajapaksa and persuading Sirisena to run for presidency.

What does Sirisena do in these circumstances? Be neutral and carry on with his plans to reform the constitution and clean up politics in the country or Help the UNP and its Leader Ranil Wickremasinghe who were mainly responsible for his election as president?

Supporting the SLFP of which he is chairman now will go against the tremendous forces that were generated to oust Mahinda Rajapaksa.

 Rajapaksa still in the ring

Rajapaksa however can claim that he still commands electorates with a Sinhala majority having won almost all seats in the Sinhala heartland. A coalition front under his leadership is reported to be in formation. His supporters include: Rajapaksa SLFP loyalists and former UPFA partners:  Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Wimal Weerawansa, Udaya Gammanpila and possibly the LSSP and CP. Most of these are political lightweights and even the old Marxist parties the LSSP and CP have negligible political clout. It will be a one man political show playing a strong communal drum beat.

Whatever happens it will be the UNP led by Ranil Wickremasinghe; the SLFP has to contend with.  Wickremasinghe has been prime minister twice, the first time for a short while after the assassination of President Premadasa and in 2001 when he led the UNP to a convincing victory beating Chandrika Bandaranaike who was the incumbent president. Chandrika and Ranil who were childhood playmates but  bitter political opponents in adult life, as president sacked three of Ranil’s cabinet ministers resulting in the collapse of his government.

This time veteran politician Ranil who enters the fray with his head bloodied many a time but unbowed, stands a good chance of victory. President Sirisena is likely to look upon him benignly and Chandrika to support him if Mahinda Rajapaksa attempts to bulldoze in.

Chandrika on stage or behind the curtain can help Ranil carry on a national government in accordance with Sirisena’s Yahapalanaya but it is still three months to go and that is a long time in Sri Lanka’s politics.

2 Responses to “President Sirisena’s Dilemma”

  1. ranjit Says:

    I prefer His Excellency former President Mahinda Rajapksa to come back on a new look party along with his former close associates and the rest of the parties in their former UPFA Govt. to contest the next General election rather than coming on S.L.F.P.ticket. As long as you have Choura Regina with MY3, former President will not have a free hand to navigate the ship independently. He must join hands with Wimal,Gamampila,Dinesh,Vasu,Vitharana and the rest who were opposed to this Yahapalana Govt. I am sure the people of Sri Lanka have more faith on the former President than any other politician in this land. You cannot blame him for others mistakes but he should understand that as the captain he too should take the responsibility for the mistakes happened during his time of office.

    Chandrika/Ranil wedding will not last long because we know about this old couple how they get along last time. They were both darlings of the west. They dance according to their wish. Tamils & Muslims waiting anxiously to get their piece of land. In some places they have already changed names. Sinhalese cannot go to some areas they have designated as Tamil & Muslim areas as per the stories appear in news. What ever said and done we have to be aware of the danger we are going to face in the near future. Decide whether you like war or Peace.

  2. Christie Says:

    Namaste: These fools write sacred bull dust, brain washed and ironed by Indians in the island and overseas. Chandrika has been a regular visitor to India to collect her fees that is due from her fathers time. Jai Hind.

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