The perils of unlikely bedfellows can be awesome. RUN RANIL RUN
Posted on March 11th, 2015
An odd couple rushed to build a home in100 days. Love’s lost and the gaze of paparazzi arises when political marriages go on the rocks. It means separation – Ranil Wickremasinghe has the least to loose; Sirisena could be rendered homeless.
Loyalty to the government is flawed at the point Sirisena is tied to a post at the SLFP headquarters. He owes Ranil a salute for selflessness that led to his victory: SLFP lost its privileges by losing portfolios. Sirisena made a catastrophic decision taking over a fallen SLFP that sacked him. As his own man was stronger, relied on the swan song before taking his former adversaries in the SLFP on board. He is not dumb and probably did to please his lady trainer, the matchmaker.
SLFP looks weary in allowing Sirisena to reciprocate a favour for uplifting him by tailoring it [ the party] as the junior team of the UNP, its eternal rival and repel its supporters.Mahinda Rajapaksa steps in to fill the void to carry lost supporters. Former ministers in the SLFP of advanced age jostle for Cabinet positions if offered without a care for principle. Lust for portfolios bring strange bedfellows to bed together. UNP wants to stay with the 100-day limit sitting in the control tower.Governments peak in their first 100 days; instead it is losing the glitz.Irritated are its recent backers.UNP wants a quick general election to gain an advantage seeing a fractious SLFP. And seated in the box seat it draws fire from all sides.
Can Ranil adroitly lead his troops on an offensive while taking defensive cover? Ranil and the UNP are stopped from denying that it successively avoided presidential elections due to lack of confidence.Confidence was regained on Sirisena’s victory displacing Sirisena to a footnote. Running alone is a different proposition with Wickremasinghe to lead.
Ranil is clean and able amongst the muck around – valuation begins and ends there. Born rich, he has no desire to be richer. The alliance the UNP helped to build, has shown no gratitude –politicians exploit or are exploited.
Having UNP and SLFP candidates on the same nomination list is like India and Pakistan presenting a single [combined] team for the Cricket World Cup 2015. Players will quarrel whether to bat or bowl or which decision is sent for review.Supporters in the stands will stone each other rather than opponents, for which both the countries named are famed. Unfolding events in politics tell the same [story].
There is no easy return for Mahinda Rajapaksa as his invincibility has been shattered.Old boy is fittest to lead an opposition team to the parliament grounds – outright victory is suspect after the defeat. He may appear as a short term, stop -gap to resurrect family and friends.
A lesson was learned in deciding to run thrice. The right must remain in the textbook, as Rajapaksa won the election if not for the minority vote from the North and East.Right must be conferred on the voters to elect or reject candidates without imposing artificial time constraints. Otherwise it inhibits democratic rudiments in a society where leadership material is scarce. Voters came of age before reaching puberty: packing him home from office on attempt three. Who said we don’t enjoy democracy?
Rajapaksa is brilliant in times of war; mediocre otherwise. Governance was poor on work ethics – being a talker more than a worker. Will frown not fire on misconduct due to compassion or allegiance. Rajapaksa is averse and allergic to reading- must read,often remain unread; relying on instinct rather than knowledge; seems semi- astrological.Appoints secretaries to become political acolytes.For a non-working man to set up a working team is problematic.Fills airplanes that languish on the tarmac for jaunts while regular flights are disarranged. The travel bug sticks with the public purse in hand and a plane in place with a full load to take off.Looks the other way on corruption – discipline is an unmentionable word in that company. Probably learnt a lesson on placing reliance on relations.The list is too crowded to tell more.
Mahinda Rajapaksa has a place in history other leaders cannot match. Holds a unique position in eliminating terrorism and would be remembered long after Wickremasinghe and Sirisena are forgotten. Cupboards of others look bare in comparison. Truly patriotic, he was adored by his followers. His downfall was in taking them for granted – gratitude has limits. Rajapaksa lost the election primarily on a warped economy created by the Central Bank and Treasury – that allowed economic fundamentals borrowed from the spent UNP and prescriptions to thrive and not rhyme with the electorate. Beneficiaries spoke UPFA and voted UNP. Rajapaksa enabled a regime change to arise from his own confines by making silly picks from among the UNP displaced. Monitoring would have shown the blips on radar. The Rajapaksa style was to assign subjects and hold on to their expertise expecting happy returns and engage in public relations – lethargy and populism went on a walk.
Having taken on finance he was better off with the home economics learned in native Hambantota, and was more aligned to the people that voted for him instead of the material churned out by upstarts in Colombo.The middle-income society, which Rajapaksa created after the war, could not retain the inflow of money to their hip pockets that rapidly flowed out due to rising prices and a decline in welfare services. Health and Education were prohibitive subjects.Food on the shelf attracted prices beyond the reach of people while the Central Bank showed numbers that were hilarious.The regime change was inevitable when it came from within without his knowing.
Mr. & Mrs Sirisena is a sweet combine – an attraction that has not percolated down to his administration. To an influential section of the opposition their road to Parliament is through Kandy and Nugegoda. On the way to Kataragama there is a much-visited emerging shrine with a smiling swami. Sirisena’s deficiency is being obsequious to Master Ranil and to the captains in the UNP – hardly asserts though popularly elected on which fame the prime minister and Cabinet holds office. They placed him on the map to become a mere dot.
Simple Sirisena does not know whether to be a Montague or Capulet in a drama that is fast becoming a tragi-comedy. How did Rajapaksa miss making him the PM when the people voted him as president to replace Rajapaksa? He knew little of surroundings being a captive of his palace guards.
“Having UNP and SLFP candidates on the same nomination list is like India and Pakistan presenting a combined team for the Cricket World Cup 2015. Players will quarrel whether to bat or bowl or which decision is sent for review”
At the next election, the vote that floats is decisive. After a presidential election the winner takes all at the general election that follows.Winner picks the dropouts from the loser’s plate to be his team -mates. Floaters at the presidential election who swung in heaps to Sirisena now find it suitable on a bed and breakfast basis. Sirisena took a needless route to absorb the stench associated with the Rajapaksas by taking over the unpopular quarter of the SLFP to his fold. He was made to do it by you know who?
Ranil’s team is accused of acting against national interest and the TNA is helping the cause. Place it against the background of the CFA and coyness with the Tigers, it sounds true. Fear of a divided nation through the 13th Amendment beckons with the new-found proximity to India. Cries of corruption are heard again in the background. UNP believes Sirisena won because of their support and he will soon be back with his men. UNP and SLFP may be compelled to form a front if the spectre of Rajapaksa looms large.
Alone, SLFP will battle for third place with the JVP. Is the UNP prepared to carry the dirt expansively or saddle a few of the SLFP that carry a name? The first 50 days of Sirisena/UNP in 2015 is more chaotic than the first 300 days of the UPFA regime in 2005.
Team Rajapaksa relies strenuously on the floating vote and considers the 100-day fiasco their fortune wheel. Nugegoda and Kandy were ‘fixed’ concerts where every Tom Dick and Harry sang to bring back their Bonnie to carry them across the seas. Contradictions will surface after counting votes.Without the party machinery for an early election, Team Rajapaksa is like the disorganised groups General Fonseka let loose into the field during his election. They should capture the SLFP/UPFA rank and file and leave the upper echelons to sail with Sirisena beyond the horizon. Wise to be without an office that will look haunted in the absence of the membership, who will be where and with whom on nomination day is hard to predict.
No single party can muster a majority and it will be a wayward makeshift national government with a formidable opposition in an unstable country-that will bring joy to the TNA. Times ahead are not going to be happy days – think of the kids and the fate that awaits them! Is there a leadership able to tackle terrorism if it surfaces again on the sounds TNA is allowed to make? Sri Lanka is a thrice-blessed land where fortunes do change for the better, as history repeatedly shows.