Pada Yathra
Posted on July 28th, 2016

 

The Joint Opposition’s claim that the aim of their Kandy-Colombo Pada Yathra, which commenced yesterday from Getambe, is not to topple the government, is not true. Minister Rajitha Senaratne got it right when he told the media on Wednesday that a protest march couldn’t bring down a government. But, the fact remains that such an event has the potential to set in motion a process of dislodging a government. The UNP’s successful Jana Bala Meheyuma protest campaign against the Kumaratunga government in 2001 is a case in point.

The short-term objective of the Rajapaksa loyalists is to flex their muscles, consolidate their power in the SLFP and mobilise their supporters at the grassroots level in view of the next local government elections. Unless President Maithripala Sirisena seeks another term, he will, before long, come to be seen as a lame duck head of state and the Rajapaksa faction will become an alternative power centre within the SLFP attracting members from the rival faction.

The long-term strategy of the JO is to oust the government. Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s popularity among the SLFP members became evident from the mass rejection of the Sirisena loyalists who contested the last parliamentary election. Most of those rejects were however appointed to Parliament via the National List subsequently. If the anti-Sirisena faction emerges powerful enough to wrest control of the SLFP with the passage of time the UNP-SLFP political marriage will be doomed in that the SLFP Central Committee can sever the party’s ties with the UNP thus destabilising the government. The UNP will have to engineer crossovers from the UPFA to raise numbers in the House or function as a minority government or coalesce with the TNA on the latter’s terms in such an eventuality.

The SLFP will have to decide who its next presidential candidate is without further delay. If President Sirisena comes forward, reneging on his promise to serve only a single term then the UNP, the TNA and all other constituents of the grand coalition, cobbled together at the last presidential election, will have to accept him as the common presidential candidate again in a bid to hold the Rajapaksas at bay. That is the UNP will have to opt out of the presidential race for the third consecutive time. President Sirisena can honour his promise and refuse to seek another term but it is doubtful whether he will be able to ensure the victory of an SLFP presidential candidate of his choice or get his party to back a common candidate fielded by the UNP vis-à-vis opposition from the Mahinda faction.

The UNP-led UNF government lost power in 2004 not so much because the SLFP emerged any more powerful; it fell because it brought about its own downfall by compromising national security, appeasing terrorists and their fellow travellers, paying no heed to people’s economic woes, implementing its controversial Regaining Sri Lanka project etc. Twelve years on it is repeating most of the blunders which cost it state power in 2004. It has provided the JO with enough and more rallying points within too short a period of time and unwittingly created conditions for mass protests. The unconscionable VAT and NBT increases have caused traders to sink their political differences and stage street protests.

Attempts to derail the on-going Pada Yathra will only steel the resolve of the JO activists to take on the government with might and main. That was why the late President Ranasinghe Premadasa acted with restraint when Rajapaksa led a Pada Yathra from Colombo to Kataragama. The SLFP, demoralised, unorganised and starved of funds, at that time, hoped and prayed that the government would disrupt its march even before it left the Colombo city limits. Premadasa let them hoof it all the way to Kataragama!

The only way the government can counter the on-going Pada Yathra without letting it snowball into a mass agitation campaign is to eliminate the factors its rivals are exploiting to fuel their protests. This, no doubt, is a tall order in that the government cannot do without tax increases and has crossed the Rubicon where the hybrid war crimes tribunal, the Economic and Technological Cooperation Agreement etc are concerned.

14 Responses to “Pada Yathra”

  1. Dilrook Says:

    Any violence by the government will be its end.

    The best is to allow the protestors do their march without interfering with it. Government disruptions will be seen as dictatorship by the people.

    SLFP’s next presidential candidate will be Vimukthi Kumaratunga. Chandrika is getting too old, her brother is dead and sister will not enter politics. But the desire to keep the party within family is enormous. Since the president automatically becomes the party leader, Chandrika will certainly push for him. He has much more minority support than any Rajapaksa ever will have. However, UNP leader is also getting too old and fragile. He too is fighting to keep the party within his circle. So UNP will try its best to win the presidential election splitting minority votes further.

    That is the perfect opportunity for the JO to field a strong pro-Sinhala candidate to beat them both by denying both the 50% needed to avoid a re-run. In the re-run between Ranil and the JO candidate, SLFP voters that voted for Vimukthi will vote for the JO than UNP (except the minorities) as they see no future. If Basil contests, Ranil will win at least 55% in the first instance. JVP and GMOA (and others that stand against ETCA) will play a key role. The JO candidate must be able to get JVP support to win.

    JO will need a clear action plan to abrogate ETCA, send Vigneswaran home and cut down 13A powers and remove VAT from most sensitive areas. Otherwise they have no chance to beat USA-India-Singapore backed Ranil.

  2. Christie Says:

    Dilrook, you may be right looking at our recent history.

    Vimukthi will follow his maternal grandfather. It is India and Indian Colonial Parasites who did everything for SWRD. Vimukthi has the same qualifications and upbringing.

    The present president and the prime minister were voted in by the Indian colonial parasites’ block vote. Indian Empire and Indian Colonial Parasites in the Island will make sure that the Sinhala votes are divided as they did in the last elections.

  3. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    IS IT PADA YATHRA OR PAADA YATHRAA ???

  4. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    IN USA, IF A MOB ATTACKED AN AMBULANCE, WITH A PATIENT OR NOT, THEY WOULD HAVE ALL BEEN ROUNDED UP, AND INDICTED ON MANY COUNTS OF INTIMIDATION, OBSTRUCTION, AND MOST OF ALL, OBSTRUCTION TO SAVE A LIFE, TANTAMOUNT TO MURDER, AND WOULD HAVE FACED A CLEAN 15 to 20 YEARS IN JAIL. SRI LANKA HAS NO SUCH JURISDICTION.

    EVEN THOSE WHO ORGANISED THE EVENT WOULD HAVE BEEN ARRESTED AND INDICTED.

  5. S.Gonsal Says:

    Susantha,
    It is Pada powered Yathra !
    Who cares one man dies ? This is life and death war. They called it Mada Ambulance. Don’t know why.

  6. Fran Diaz Says:

    Pada Yathra is happening via the JO because the Yahap people have botched up governing the country. Someone has to set it right again or the People will have to face neo-Colonisation of Lanka via :

    – ETCA
    – Sea tunnel to Tamil Nadu
    – 5,000 acre lots on 99 yr leases to foreigners
    – New Constitution (what might that bring ?)

    Lanka still paying for the sins of nearly 500 yrs of Colonisation ! Do we need neo-Colonisation ??

    * REMOVE THE 13-A.
    * REVOKE OFFICIALLY THE VADUKODDAI RESOLUTION OF 1976 (Eelam through Violence)

    Enough is enough !

  7. S.Gonsal Says:

    Thanks to Pada Yatra started in Kandy, Sri Lanka beat the mighty Aussies in Kandy.
    Congratulations to our brave team and deepest sympathies to Muralidhran’s father who whished Australia win ! For him even his son’s Pada is greater than the country ! Typical Tamil.

    Hopefully Pada Yatra will be there in Galle too bringing us good luck in test test ! If not we should ask JO to change the date.

  8. Dilrook Says:

    My thoughts too, S Gonsal.

    Here is the link to Murali’s father’s views on the match. This proves how much Sri Lanka lost in developing a new spinner because Murali occupied that spot for far too long. Herath should have replaced Murali in late 1990s and allowed for the development of more youngsters.

    Same with Mahela who was not of much use for a long time as a batsman. A youngster or two would have been developed in his place a long time ago.

    “http://www.heraldsun.com.au/sport/cricket/muttiah-muralitharans-father-manager-of-a-sri-lankan-biscuit-factory-says-he-now-supports-australia-because-of-his-sons-work-with-the-team/news-story/ed2a5257cf5a0fa2864963cb75abd194”

  9. Cerberus Says:

    Mr. Wijesinghe, Are you aware that this attempt to send ambulances on the road where the Paada Yathra was happening was the Yahapalanaya Govts feeble attempt to stop it. Please see the response from President Mahinda Rajapaksa. http://lankacnews.com/sinhala/news/145788/
    The Yahapalanaya also tried arresting people, digging up the Hyde park for no reason, As Fran Diaz has pointed out the Paada Yathra had a purpose. See
    —————————-
    Fran Diaz Says:
    July 30th, 2016 at 2:55 am
    Pada Yathra is happening via the JO because the Yahap people have botched up governing the country. Someone has to set it right again or the People will have to face neo-Colonisation of Lanka via :

    – ETCA
    – Sea tunnel to Tamil Nadu
    – 5,000 acre lots on 99 yr leases to foreigners
    – New Constitution (what might that bring ?)

    Lanka still paying for the sins of nearly 500 yrs of Colonisation ! Do we need neo-Colonisation ??

    * REMOVE THE 13-A.
    * REVOKE OFFICIALLY THE VADUKODDAI RESOLUTION OF 1976 (Eelam through Violence)

    Enough is enough !

  10. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    S. GONSAL !! OH, ITS LIKE JET PROPULSION EH ?

  11. Ananda-USA Says:

    Susantha,

    It is PAADA YAATHRA.

  12. Ananda-USA Says:

    Finally, in the PAADA YAATHRA, the JO is acting to organize nationwide support against the Yamapalanaya that is threatening to leave Sri Lanka in shambles as a captive of its enemies!

    Also, the First Sri Lanka vs Australia cricket test was a delight to watch. A young new Test Team that can restore the glories of the past seems to be emerging to rescue us from the gloom spread by the Yamapalanaya! Amazing amount of turn by all Sri Lankan spinners, especially Sandakan.

    While cheering for our team I could not help admiring the astonishong rearguard battle of Nevill and O’Keefe! It was one-two-thattu for over two hours, with rain clouds thteatening to stop the play!

  13. S.Gonsal Says:

    * REMOVE THE 13-A.
    * REVOKE OFFICIALLY THE VADUKODDAI RESOLUTION OF 1976 (Eelam through Violence)

    I wish everyone in Paada Yatra carried these two slogans. They are very clear and precise policies. That’s the way it should be.

    What they are displaying is “join us to save the country”. It means it is all up to them.
    What are the methods of “saving the country” is a secret.

    After coming to power and then declaring “now country has been saved” and allowing North and East Pallath Sabha to continue their merry way of destroying the Sinhalas (as they did until now ) yest continuing the propaganda that country has been saved will not save the country.

  14. Fran Diaz Says:

    The Balance is going too far toward Fascism & neo-Colonisation.

    Therefore, Paada Yaathra (thanks for proper wording here, Ananda & Others) is NECESSARY TO BRING BACK BALANCE in Socio-Economics and Unitary Status of Lanka.

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