The Jumbo Crisis facing Ranil and UNP
Posted on March 2nd, 2018

“Ali Alleema” – the Catching of Elephants – was a humorous piece by famous comedian Eddie Jayamanne in the old days of gramophone record entertainment. We have gone through the vast tragedy of the last Elephant Kraal, and the related song of the “Panamurey Eth Raaja”, which still brings sad memories. There is much concern today about the plight of the elephants in our jungles, which are being rapidly depleted without much-needed protection and the hunt for elephant tusks and ivory, and there is growing concern about the treatment of elephants by private owners, including temples.

But the big story today is about the political elephant – the jumbo that is the symbol of the United National Party.

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The leftists of the LSSP and Communist Party, and later the Sri Lanka Freedom Party had great fights with the UNP Elephant – for long considered the symbol of the westernized, pro-colonial urban power base, but also strongly supported by rural voters in the early years of independence. It saw the first big defeat in 1956, when the Hand of the SLFP and MEP led by SWRD Bandaranaike (and supported by the left) reduced the jumbos to eight in parliament.

But the jumbo rose again, in what was a huge Ali Nagiteema, when JR Jayewardene won a sweeping 5/6 strength in Parliament in 1977, and changed the constitution and politics in the country by bringing in the Executive Presidency. The Green Elephant prevailed in power till Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga won the Executive Presidency in 1994. From that time till 2015 January the political green elephant had little control over the reins of power, although Ranil Wickremesinghe (RW) was Prime Minister twice under the UNP’s President DB Wijetunga and later under the CBK presidency from December 2001 till April 2004.

The Green Elephant and RW are facing their biggest challenge today. RW’s record of 40 years in Parliament may not be threatened so fast, but his time as Leader of the UNP and Prime Minister of Sri Lanka is both under serious threat. The defeat of the Yahapalanaya government in the recent local government poll, which pushed the UNP into second place and President Sirisena’s SLFP-UPFA into a very distant third place, is hitting harder each day at the Green Elephant and its party leader.

The recent half shake-up of the Cabinet has done little to help the UNP and RW to overcome the vast public disapproval of the Yahapalanaya policies. The fact that President Sirisena was a bigger loser at this poll has done little to ease the Jumbo Party and its leader from growing public disapproval, including within the green ranks themselves.

The Prime Minister, who met the media with courage announcing his constitutional position as PM, is faced with the reality of all the wrong or bad policies of Yahapalanaya, formally led by President Sirisena, being heaped on the policies, actions, and strategies of the UNP. It leads to a major re-think of what really took place after the January 2015 change, which saw the defeat of the Rajapaksa Regime, by the Common Candidate Maithripala Sirisena.

Maithripala Sirisena could do little more than the 19th Amendment, which cut down some of the powers of the Executive Presidency. He did not carry on with his campaign promise to abolish the Executive Presidency. The UNP, which was the main political force that helped elect him, used the advantage of the change to push its own right-wing- pro-western and very many capitalist and neo-liberal policies, which had received no approval from the people.

What is now seen is a clash over economic policies, where President Sirisena is clearly leaving no stone unturned, making a huge but a hollow display of his commitment of service to the people; as opposed to the UNP and RW’s commitment to serving the forces opposed to the people. The Sirisena game is a clear departure from what was expected from the January 2015 change – the definite abolition of the Executive Presidency, and constitutional change for a better, far-reaching democracy, with peace and reconciliation, and a determined fight against corruption.

He is clearly moving away from all that, except for loud slogans about the use of his presidential sword, which remains blunt. But he has all the ability to claim glory on the Central Bank Bond Scam issue. This is where RW and the Green Elephant are badly trapped. There is no escape from the consequences of the Bond Scam, which could very well hide all the corruption that Sirisena has turned a blind eye to from his side of the coalition, and the Rajapaksas.

To make things worse for RW and the UNP is the slow pace of the fight against the corruption of the Rajapaksa Regime, largely under UNP held portfolios of Law and Order, and Justice, as well as the crooked deals of the Finance Ministry too, that is with the UNP.

Ranil and the Green Elephant are in the midst of a political crisis that can change the pattern of politics in this country. Ranil’s leadership of the Jumbo Party is under huge challenge. While back-benchers call for a motion of no-confidence against RW, the voices of the crooked that benefitted from Ranil’s leadership, such as Ravi Karunanayake, are also making similar calls.

He may be able to keep the office of Prime Minister under the 19th Amendment, with manipulative control over the Presidency; but the 19th Amendment does not apply to the UNP, where the leadership is now under threat.

President Sirisena seems to be marking time as to who he will have to deal with as the UNP’s new leader, in a much closer future that most UNPers may have thought.

This is a crisis in governance, which has been brought both by the Common Candidate for the presidency, and the Party and the leader who got him the biggest votes.

It is an elephantine crisis facing this country, with no easy solution available.

2 Responses to “The Jumbo Crisis facing Ranil and UNP”

  1. Christie Says:

    Since the sixties UNP is financed by the same lot who financed HSSP. SLFP and the JVP later.

    Indian Colonial Parasites of the Island and India.

    India is not happy with Ranil for selling Hambantota to China.

  2. Ananda-USA Says:

    The Chief Thief Ranil Baba (Leader of the 40 Thieves) is visiting Singapore for “Trade Discussions”!.

    Forget about Trade Discussions, the MORE IMPORTANT QUESTION is will he be able to STRIKE A DEAL with his Royalist pal and BOND SCAM Bank Robber, the ABSCONDING Chief of his Central Bank, Arjun Mahendran, to RETURN to Sri Lanka and face the music at the CID??

    Colombo Fort Magistrate yesterday set a DEADLINE of March 8, 2018 for Mahendran to RETURN to Sri Lanka and present himself to the CID!

    WILL HE trust the Chief Thief and DO IT, and place his head under the GUILLOTINE of Sri Lankan Law while that same Mastermind temporarily holds the reins of the Law & Order Ministry of Sri Lanka, or will he tell Wikunanasinghe, the Chief Beneficiary of the Bond Scam, to go TAKE A JUMP into the Indian Ocean and HIDE UNDER Singaporean Law?

    Keep TUNED IN FOLKS, for the NEXT EPISODE of Ranil Baba and the 40 Thieves!

    OPEN SESAME to the PRISON DOORS to WELCOME Ranil Baba and his 40 Thieves to EXTENDED VACATIONS at Govt Expense
    …………………………
    Sri Lankan PM, Singapore Trade & Industry Minister hold discussions
    Fri, Mar 2, 2018, 01:01 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

    Mar 02, Singapore: Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe met with Singapore’s Minister of Trade and Industry, S. Eswaran at the Four Seasons Hotel in Singapore today (02) for discussions on strengthening the bilateral trade and investments.

    During the discussion both the Sri Lankan Premier and Singapore Minister stressed the need to strengthen trade and economic relations between the two countries based on the Free Trade Agreement signed between Singapore and Sri Lanka earlier this year.

    Mr. Eswaran also noted that the Government of Singapore was grateful for Premier Wickremesinghe’s contribution to finalize the Free Trade Agreement between Singapore and Sri Lanka.

    Discussions were also held on the possibility of taking expeditious steps to facilitate the business affairs of the investors as there are a number of Singapore investors expecting to invest in Sri Lanka as a result of the FTA between the two countries.

    The Premier is in Singapore to participate in this year’s first Investor forum ‘Invest Sri Lanka’ held today at the Four Season’s Hotel. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe delivered the keynote address at the Forum today.

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