Why MR shouldn’t retire
Posted on February 23rd, 2018

So Mahinda Rajapaksa [MR] is back with a bang, a huge bang, which has left the government with no clue whatsoever of what actually hit them. After he lost the 2015 election, many a cat call emerged asking him to retire from politics, suggesting that his days were over. But I firmly believed that MR had the right to remain in politics as he obtained 5.8 million of votes, just 4 lakhs of votes short of his opponent. In Asia, politicians cannot retire on their own. They can only be retired by the people. When people decide that enough is enough, the politicians lose the crowd support and will find themselves lost in their own backyard. MR has continued to remain as the most popular leader in the country, and the only people who wanted him to retire were the politicians who feared him. What makes it special is that more than 70% of Sinhala people had voted for him in the 2015 Presidential election, which is why he cannot retire. The Sinhala people are the majority of this country, and no one in his proper senses can argue that MR was rejected in that election and I would say he was only “Defeated” not “Rejected.” The word “Rejection” can be used in the 2010 Presidential election, as MR had beaten his opponent by a massive number of votes which counted to 18 lakhs. The scenario was completely different in 2015 where he got thumping majorities in the South and won most of the electorates in the country, so the endorsement of the majority of the Sinhala people goes a long way and he cannot back away or mind his own business; thus betraying all those Sinhala voters who trusted him.

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Most Tamil and Muslim people believe that MR is a Sinhala leader. What they have meekly forgotten is that he ended a terrorist war that crippled the country for over 30 years, and gave us all citizens the right to live and a freedom of movement that no other country can boast about. Had he arranged for the Provincial Council election in the North just after he ended the war, he could have mustered at least a simple majority and continue ruling that region with an iron grip, using the Tamil politicians who were on his side. The TNA wouldn’t have had much clout as they were endorsing whatever the LTTE did, and they lacked the ability to regroup as a political force moving away from the LTTE ideology. But MR didn’t play politics then, instead he decided to uplift the basic needs and living conditions of the Tamil people. He launched a massive development drive in the North and resettled the IDPs in a very short period of time. Once he completed the development, all what the TNA had to do was to walk in to their home base as free politicians. This backfired on MR, and the TNA didn’t even thank him for creating the groundwork and freedom to be there but continued with the ideologies of LTTE.

People say that MR won the war but didn’t bring the desired peace for the Tamil people through reconciliation. To be fair by him, there was no moderate Tamil leader in sight to talk or reconcile. There was no way he could change the mindset of the old guard, namely the aging politicians of TNA.This is why we cannot expect anything fruitful to happen even in the near future, as the Tamil politicians’ mindset has not changed at all. Listening to the TNA leader R. Sampanthan’s speech in Parliament this week, one would feel that he had suddenly woken from a deep slumber. Here is the man who officially announced the LTTE decision asking the North & East people to refrain from exercising their franchise in 2005. The same man boasted that the LTTE was the sole representative of the Tamil community at that time. Not to be outdone of his racial comments, he went so far to warn the Sri Lankan government to be prepared with thousands of body bags for the SL soldiers, if they dare try to enter Kilinochchi in early 2009. Now he dares to say that the “Pohottuwa” is blooming to create Eelam, completely forgetting that he and the TNA’s actions severely dented the relationship of the Sinhala and Tamil people as a whole. For 70 years since independence, the Tamil politicians led their people to disaster creating disharmony, and they could go on for the next 70 years with no hope of a solution if their present trend of attitude continues. Mr. Sampanthan must realize, even at this late stage of his life, that the only way out is to come down on their stance on Federalism and their concept of self-determination.

No way will the Sinhala majority allow removing the Unitary status of this country, and there is no other leader in this country capable, other than MR, to negotiate a suitable deal in this regard. The government too must realize that MR is the key and cannot be kept aside in decision making, and it is only MR who can convince the Sinhala people of any negotiable solution as the Local Council election results have given the people’s verdict in black and white. They are prepared to trust in MR and he is perhaps the only person the Sinhala people wish to listen to. With great power comes great responsibility and MR who has that power is a seasoned politician to understand that reality.Like any other human being, MR made glaring mistakes in his last years of governance, yet it is beyond doubt that it was MR who was responsible for the greatest and the most rapid development the country has ever seen after we gained independence.

The present government that ousted MR sighting his government was corrupted to the core has so far virtually done nothing to change the pattern of governance. We now have a coalition government which has no clue of what “Good governance” means, allows daylight robberies to take place under their own noses, such as the Central Bank bond scam. Development has come to a standstill, the economy is in ruins, and the only thing this government wished to achieve in the last 3 years was to deprive MR of a “Come back”. The general public has fallen from the frying pan to the fire with not a day passing without a public protest of some sort. Both the UNP and SLFP are “honeymooning”, blind to the fact that people go through severe hardships due to rising prices of all essentials. Now the people are once again trying to find solace through MR, the only other option available in the horizon. We don’t have an official Opposition in Parliament now, as the JVP and TNA are pussyfooting with the government. The joint opposition may not be the “Angels of Heaven” as one is to expect, but their strong presence with MR as their leader is the only available force which keeps the government in check at present. Whether we like it or not, if the present trend continues, MR will never be allowed to retire by the people as they would find him as the only savior to pull our country out of this mess. The present government is digging their own grave by not seriously solving the issues of the country, but have been only working overtime for the last 3 years to deprive MR’s resurgence; thus failing pathetically in everything what they do and the February 10 election says it all.

We all must realize the true fact that there have been no good governments in our country after 1977. Every government was corrupt but they were shielded by the presence of terrorism until 2009. Though MR gave our country the greatest development ever, the new freedom he created through the absence of terrorism, and the newly formed social media exposed the corruption that prevailed, boomeranged on MR which paved the way to his downfall. Corruption cannot be annihilated. It is a myth in the present world. Corruption can only be controlled, but that too to a very limited extent in the present day world. Not many will agree with me, but whether we like it or not our voters will have no option but to create a government that would develop the country with corruption in existence.

This is the bitter truth we will have to face, and MR has a lot to prove if he wants to be back in the saddle. He cannot be President again but a “Leader” necessarily need not be a “Captain” at all times. He should be able to humbly accept the mistakes he had done in the past which cost him dearly, and he should realize that through his downfall, the entire country is in a mess at present, and he is partially responsible. He has a huge vote base and the majority of the Sinhala people depend on him to restore the lost prestige of our nation as a whole; and to achieve that, he has to regain the trust of the right thinking people by promising not to repeat the mistakes he did in his former tenure.

NIRANTHA EDIRISINGHE

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