A Right Royal battle
Posted on April 3rd, 2018

Editorial Courtesy The Island

What started off as an ill-conceived no-confidence motion, initiated by a bunch of cocky Joint Opposition (JO) MPs following their impressive win at the Feb. 10 mini polls, has led to a right royal battle between President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. The showdown is right Royal because the President and the Prime Minister are both Royalists—the former from Royal College, Polonnaruwa and the latter from Royal College, Colombo 07. The battle lines are now drawn and there is no turning back. Both sides are evenly matched, in our book. A lot of money is changing hands. All signs are that Parliament will be thrown into turmoil today when the no-faith motion is debated and put to the vote. There will be some surprises, according to our sources.

The JO has taken a huge gamble not so much because of the prospect of losing its face in case of a defeat. If the no-faith motion gets carried with PM Wickremesinghe having to step down, the JO worthies may have to face unforeseen trouble. There is the possibility of the SLFP (Sirisena faction) and the UNP gelling once again as a cohesive group and the yahapalana government getting a new lease of life under a different PM also from the UNP; a new face may give the UNP the much-needed turbo boost in time for the Provincial Council elections and the party’s ginger group will be compelled to stop rebelling. The ire of the public, reflected in the UNP’s humiliating loss at last month’s local government elections, is directed at the present party leadership and a new leader may be able to shore up the party’s image, woo the public and regain lost ground at least to some extent. Such a development may not be to the JO’s advantage.

Moreover, if the SLFP and the UNP restore their bonds under a new PM, together they will be able to muster a two-thirds majority for the Judicature Amendment Bill, which the Supreme Court has deemed inconsistent with the Constitution. The passage of this controversial Bill will pave the way for go-kart trials, as it were, against the big guns of the last regime. This must be a worrisome proposition for the JO worthies.

The JO has craftily turned its no-faith motion campaign into a battle between the PM and the President, and the PM has, in a bid to save his skin, pitted the UNP against the President and the SLFP. The UNP is now attacking President Sirisena and his party more than the JO. Even if it succeeds in torpedoing the no-confidence motion today, its victory will be a pyrrhic one. For, the SLFP won’t be able to continue to work with it; there may arise a situation similar to what we witnessed from 2001 to 2004 with President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe being at loggerheads, if not each other’s jugular. The 19th Amendment may have stripped the President of the power to sack a prime minister and dislodge a government, but it is only wishful thinking that the UNP will be able to run a government smoothly without the President’s cooperation.

The UNP is a force to be reckoned with in spite of it trouble and poor electoral performance. So is beleaguered Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, who is one of life’s great survivors. Perhaps, he has seen to it that some SLFP MPs will go to the mat for him during today’s debate and even vote for him. The UNP may even be able to engineer some crossovers from the SLFP and muster a working majority to form its own government, but the question is whether it will be able to live up to the expectations of the irate public while settling scores with a hostile President.

The UNP is reported to have presented to President Sirisena, on Monday, an 18-month development plan, which, it says, it intends to implement in case of its victory today. It may look good on paper like all other politicians’ plans, but the problem will be its implementation. The joint government has so far failed to do virtually anything by way of development to impress the voting public, as evident from the mini polls results, and the people will want to know why the UNP failed to do for nearly three and a half years what it has undertaken to do within the next 18 months. Promises are said to be like babies—easy to make but difficult to deliver.

Whoever emerges victorious in today’s contest in Parliament won’t be able to paint the town red; the sobering political reality is bound to cast a shadow on victory. There are unnervingly formidable challenges the parties to the no-confidence battle have to face. The President and the Prime Minister—either Wickremesinghe or anyone else from the UNP—will have their work cut out vis-à-vis the economy in shambles. Their task will be to revive it. The JO and the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna will have to run the local bodies they have won to the satisfaction of the public and retain their popularity. This is certainly a tall order.

4 Responses to “A Right Royal battle”

  1. L Perera Says:

    Lets hope that the outcome of this NC vote will send a message to the cockey / corrupt Polliticians that their aura of invincibility, is no more and their glory days are numbered. The opposition today is no longer in disarray and there is semblance of the balance in power the house.

  2. Ananda-USA Says:

    BREAKING NEWS:

    Rauf Hakeem announced that the SLMC Exec Committee has decided to VOTE AGAINST the NCM tomorrow!

    This is ENTIRELY AS EXPECTED. I wonder what CONCESSIONS they EXTRACTED from the PAL-HORA PARA-GATHI AGA-MATHI and the UNPatritic party for this support!

    PATRIOTS! Remember TOMORROW WHO STOOD for Sri Lanka TODAY, and WHO STOOD AGAINST!

  3. Christie Says:

    What we need is to kick Sirisena out.

    Unless PM kicked out leads to Sirisena out.

    Otherwise there is no change to the predicament of us the Sinhalese.

  4. Fran Diaz Says:

    So, the Vote has finished in Parliament with a vote of 5:3 in favor of RW.
    Fear & Greed have won through, not RW.

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