Curry leaves, crowbars and Maithri
Posted on January 15th, 2017

Editorial The Island

The SLFP (Maithri faction), which is toying with the idea of fielding President Maithripala Sirisena at the next presidential election, has been testing the water for the last few days. Some of its prominent members have, at media briefings, said the party wants him to contest again.

Interestingly, not even former President Chandrika Kumaratunga, who, together with others, helped Sirisena secure the presidency, seems enamoured of the idea. She has recalled, at a recent media conference, President Sirisena’s solemn pledge at his induction ceremony that he would not seek a second term. Sirisena loyalists claim he said so as the common Opposition candidate and now that he is the SLFP leader he can contest another presidential election.

Some people in this country seek to protect themselves against lightning by throwing crowbars out during thunderstorms. Politically speaking, the UNP made a crowbar of Sirisena at the last presidential election. UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, troubled by an intra-party power struggle with some prominent members all out to knock him off his perch, did not want another defeat at a presidential election to contend with. So, he joined others including civil society groups in looking for someone to take the huge gamble and was more than happy to field Sirisena as the common Opposition candidate.

True, Sirisena would not have been able to win without the UNP block vote. However, the UNP alone cannot claim the credit for that feat; the TNA, too, made a tremendous contribution to Sirisena’s victory. The same goes for the SLMC etc. It is equally true that the UNP would not have been able to ensure anyone else’s victory. Else, it would have fielded Wickremesinghe as its presidential candidate. Therefore, what we see between the UNP and Sirisena is a symbiotic relationship like the famous one between the sea anemone and the hermit crab. Both have gained from their cohabitation.

The UNP and its civil society cronies have faulted Sirisena for taking over the reins of the SLFP. They never expected that adroit political move which wrong-footed not only them but also Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was still reeling from a crushing defeat. They wanted to give President the so-called karapincha (curry leaves) treatment or, in other words, use and discard him. But, they underestimated his political acumen; their plan went awry.

What would have happened if President Sirisena had not taken over SLFP leadership? Perhaps, the UNP would not have been able to form a government in August 2015. He, as the SLFP leader, queered the pitch for former President Rajapaksa in the parliamentary fray hoping to be the Prime Minister and, thereby, ruined the party’s chances of winning; he then prevented the Rajapaksa loyalists from entering Parliament via the National List by appointing his lackeys as SLFP and UPFA General Secretaries and preempted the Joint Opposition’s attempt to secure the post of the Opposition Leader. But for the President’s control over the SLFP there would have been no ‘unity government’. If the SLFP had been helmed by Rajapaksa, it would perhaps have been able to win the 2015 parliamentary polls, thus landing President Sirisena in the same predicament as President Chandrika Kumaratunga during the 2001-2004 period; she had to put up with a hostile UNP-controlled parliament.

If President Sirisena had remained politically independent and the UNP had won the last general election with a comfortable majority by any chance he would have become the UNP’s prisoner. For, an executive president without any power in Parliament is like ‘a banana without the skin’ as a local saying goes; he would not have been able to voice his opinion, let alone act, as regards vital issues and the Prime Minister would have been able to act as the de facto President.

It is said that victory has many fathers and defeat is an orphan. Everybody now claims the credit for the 2015 regime change. But, if Rajapaksa had won, Sirisena alone would have faced the consequences; he would perhaps have been arraigned on trumped up charges and even thrown behind bars; others would have been sipping coffee with Rajapaksa at Temple Trees!

An NGO has reportedly threatened to defeat Sirisena if he seeks a second term! Some NGO chiefs are full of themselves. They think they are kingmakers and can run parallel governments with the help of a section of the media. Their contribution to the 2015 regime change can best be described as political midwifery. President Rajapaksa, ably assisted by his siblings, cronies and other hangers-on, snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, so to speak. It was his political hara-kiri that paved the way for the birth of the yahapalana baby.

Why President Sirisena has incurred the wrath of his strange bedfellows is clear. They wanted him to be their slave and do their bidding with no questions asked, but he has asserted himself and come to be considered an obstacle in their path.

2 Responses to “Curry leaves, crowbars and Maithri”

  1. S.Gonsal Says:

    Pakayasothi Saravanamuttu is running the country.

  2. Ananda-USA Says:

    Those who SOWED the WIND with backstabbing TREACHERY in the dead of the night, shall REAP the WHIRLDWIND in broad daylight!

    ALL of the Yamapalanaya KALLIYA are living a NIGHTMARE fearing the JUST RETRIBUTION they know they have RICHLY EARNED!

    That is the PRICE of TREACHERY!

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