Ranil’s victory: Unique in the democratic world
Posted on April 7th, 2018

by C.A.Chandraprema Courtesy The Island

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has always been good at brinksmanship and that is what enabled him to survive a quarter of a centrury of challenges to his leadership. He has been fighting off challenges to his leadership from 1994 i.e. from the very moment he became party leader and in that respect, there is probably no other leader in the democratic world who has the kind of experience that he has in fighting them off. That is his strength which enabled him to overcome the latest challenge as well. However his weakness is that he has a tendency to attract opposition and resistance in situations where most other leaders would never encounter opposition. RW has spent the better part of his life fighting crises that he himself created. Even in this latest episode, nobody should have been able to challenge him at all because the UNP had 106 MPs and with the TNA’s 16 seats his position should have been unassailable.

No other leader with such numbers would have been challenged except RW. The only reason why the challengers thought they had a chance of success is because there were a significant number of people in his own party who wanted to get rid of him and there was the distinct possibility that they may vote for the no confidence motion. With a significant group of MPs from his own party openly rooting for his removal, RW’s moment of truth came when Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva told him that the unanimous position of the 44 SLFP parliamentarians in the government was that he should resign. If the 44 MPs in the SLFP group voted against him en bloc, then the UNP dissidents would have come out of the woodwork and RW’s goose would have been cooked. This message from Nimal Siripala de Silva the day before the no confidence motion was taken up for debate was the moment that RW arrived at the crossroads and had to decide on one of two alternatives.

He could either give up without putting up a fight or he could try to ride the storm and hope for the best. Even with Nimal Siripala de Silva conveying the SLFP’s request to him to resign, the situation was not completely hopeless because everyone knew that there was a group within the SLFP who were looking to join the UNP as there was no real future for the SLFP after the SLPP swept the LG polls and became the largest political party in the country. So if it came to voting at the no confidence motion, RW could count on the votes of ten or more of the SLFP ministers in the government whose hopes of continuing in politics lay with the UNP. In any case, RW had nothing to lose but everything to gain by taking things right to the brink. If he resigned without fighting, he would have been out. If he fought and lost also he would have been out. So the choice was pretty easy to make. He would fight it and hope to win, and he won.

Some sections of the UNP have been elated at the victory as can be seen from the firecrackers that were lit all over in the wake of the vote in parliament. However, no other leader would have been challenged at all with the numbers that the UNP and its allies could command if not for the pool of resentment against RW within his own party. That problem has not been solved by the victory at the no confidence motion but has been made even worse. The UNP dissidents took one step backwards because the SLFP announced on the day of the debate that they would abstain from voting which basically put paid to any hopes of the no confidence motion succeeding. However the resentment within the UNP continues to fester and if past experience teaches us anything, none of the underlying issues will be addressed to the satisfaction of the dissidents. This is resentment that has been festering for a quarter of a century with no resolution in sight. Even if all the dissidents in the present day UNP decamps overnight and joins the pohottuwa, their places will be snapped up immediately by the displaced politicians who find themselves in the sinking SLFP ship, and so the caravan goes on with different camels and porters but the same leader!

Open confrontation between President and PM

Indeed the experience of the UNP is unique in the history of democratic political parties. Firstly, it is very seldom that a democratic political party would have the same leader for a quarter of a century. It is even rarer to a democratic political party to have the same leader through a string of electoral debacles over a quarter of a century. The firecrackers lit to celebrate RW’s victory should not fool anybody. There are a large number of MPs within the victorious UNP literally chewing their own backsides in anguish at the victory which has now eliminated any hopes of being able to bring about a change in the leadership of the party. In fact the mayhem created by this no confidence motion against the leader of a political party that had the support of 122 MPs to begin with (106 UNP and 16 TNA) is unbelievable. For more than two weeks the entire country was in turmoil with meeting after meeting between the various groups lobbying either for or against the no confidence motion.

For the first time it also led to open confrontation between the President and the Prime Minister. There was no doubt that the President tried to get rid of the PM. In the run up to the no confidence motion, the President took away the Central Bank and the Securities and Exchange Commission from the purview of the PM and gave them to the finance minister. Then he got the SLFP group in the government to present a united front in demanding the PM’s resignation. It was only when RW went to a vote that Sirisena caved in and instructed his people to abstain from voting. We all know what Sirisena expected to achieve by getting rid of Ranil and this columnist was the first to reveal the game plan – he wanted to have a compliant leader in the UNP so that he could contest for the presidency again next year as the common candidate of an alliance of political parties made up of the UNP and his faction of the SLFP along with any others who may join.

But what did he expect by instructing his people to abstain from voting? An informed guess would be that he wanted to prevent his faction of the SLFP from splitting with at least ten of his closest loayalists including Diminda Dissanaye and Vijith Vijayamuni Soysa from voting with the UNP. However, by asking his group to abstain, he forced an even bigger group of SLFP parliamentarians to vote against the PM, because this group did not not see any future for themselves in either the UNP or the SLFP. So in trying to avoid a split within his ranks, Sirisena actually precipitated an even bigger rift.

At the last local government election, Sirisena antagonized the SLPP constituency as well as the UNP constituency. Now he has enraged the UNP constituency even more by trying to take control of the UNP by replacing Ranil with a compliant quisling. Even the dissidents within the UNP who were in contact with Sirisena in trying to get rid of Ranil will never again join up with him because he sold them down the river by ordering his loyalists at the last moment to abstain from voting against RW. So when we look at the result of this no confidence motion it has sown destruction all round. Sirisena’s SLFP is divided and in a shambles and is unlikely to recover. This was the second major blow that it suffered after the local government election. The UNP itself is once again a seething cauldron of resentment with Ranil being their leader for the foreseeable future. The UNP won with 122 votes. But these are votes that they always had. On the eve of the no confidence debate, the Tamil Progressive Front, the SLMC and the ACMC expressed support for the prime minister. However these are all political parties that contested under the elephant symbol at the last parliamentary election. The TNA did not contest under the UNP banner, but Ranil can trust the TNA to a much greater extent than most members of the UNP itself. So the votes that the UNP got were the votes he already had.

The only real victory he scored was in preventing the UNP dissidents from voting against him. The no confidence motion presented by the Joint Opposition failed to dislodge the Prime Minister, but they have widened the rift between the president and the prime minister, they have created rifts between the ministers in the cabinet, they have saddled the UNP with Ranil Wickremesinghe for the foreseeable future and by merely signing a piece of paper, they have created the effect of a cluster bomb. The SLFP is definitely disintegrating and will hold together only so long as Sirisena holds the postion of President. After him there will be no SLFP. The present members of the SLFP will either be absorbed by the UNP or the SLPP. If and when the present Sirisena loyalists join the UNP, they being people who have wielded power in various SLFP led governments in the past two decades, will strengthen the UNP to some extent by bringing in people who have resources and a certain amount of political capital as well.

The UNP’s jubilant celebration of victory included surrounding the Sirasa TV station to light thousands of firecrackers to noisily convey the message that they won despite all the efforts of the TV station to dislodge Ranil. Obviously, this episode would have caused quite a fright to the staff there. However we never saw any of the usual media NGOs condemning the incident. If such a thing happened during the Rajapaksa regime, the American and British Ambassadors would have gone rushing in their pyjamas to the Sirasa office. However, being surrounded by a rowdy crowd and thousands of firecrackers being lit obviously does not qualify as intimidation as far as the Western embassies are concerned. Even if it was intimidation it was our blokes doing it, so it’s ok, seems to be the prevailing mood.

Even before the sound of celebratory firecrackers had died down, Tushara Wanniarachchi, the head of the Prime Minister’s media division was writing to Colombo Telegraph arguing that only Ranil can win the next Presidential election. He argues that from 1989 to 2010, it was Prabhakaran who determined who would win or lose a presidential election and that at the 2005 presidential election, it was the boycott enforced by the LTTE that enabled Mahinda Rajapaksa to win  by a small margin. He argues that with Ranil getting 80% of the votes of the minorities who make up 31% of the population, and 35% of the Sinhala vote, he and only he can win the next presidential election. He says that in 2015, Sirisena got about 80% of the vote from the north and east in a situation where a survey had revealed that 33% of the people of that area had not even heard of Sirisena before. He says that Ranil may have won even the 2015 presidential election if he had contested. Thus we see the extent to which this victory at the no confidence motion has solidified Ranil’s grip on the UNP.

The TNA’s conditions

The TNA voted against the no confidence motion against the Prime Minister only after the latter agreed to ten conditions put forward by them. One cannot reasonably expect a political outfit like the TNA to vote against the no confidence motion without at least giving the impression to their constituency that they had wrung something out of the government in exchange for their support. The TNA is in a bad way in the north and east with other political parties making inroads into what was once their exclusive preserve. Even though the TNA is supposed to have ‘won’ the majority of the local government institutions in the north and east, all that means is that they have got more votes than the next party on the list, but they have been able to obtain an overall majority only in a handful of LG institutions. Even in the psychologically important Jaffna Municipality, the TNA managed to get one of their men elected mayor only after establishing alliances with other political groups. So there was no way that they could simply extend their support to the PM without at least the appearance of having wrung something out of him in exchange. The ten conditions to which the PM had agreed were as follows:

1.Formulating a political solution to the north eastern problem

2.Introducing a new constitution before the next election

3.Releasing all the land held by the armed forces in the north back to the rightful owners.

4.Releasing all political prisoners

5.Investigating cases of disappearances during the war and paying compensation to the families of victims.

6.Protecting the rights of the people of the north and east

7.Solving the problem of unemployment among youth in the north and east

8.In giving employment in the north and east, giving priority to people of the north and east

9.In appointing district secretaries in the north and east, appointing Tamils to those positions

10.Respecting the views of the two provincial councils in matters relating to the develop ment of the north and east.

11.Giving priority to projects of the provincial council.

Some of these such as the formulation of a new constitution before the next election are obviously not practicable. The constitutional reform process ground to a halt months ago due to the inability of the Muslims and the upcountry Tamils to agree to the devolution proposals put forward. It is very unlikely that this reform process can be resuscitated before the next presidential election is called in October next year. Even if it is, the possibility of getting a two thirds majority on parliament is now virtually non-existent. The demand to release all ‘political prisoners’ however gives cause for serious concern. What the TNA means by the term political prisoners are the several dozen hardcore LTTE terrorists who are still in detention awaiting trial. Even though over 11,000 LTTE cadres were released, these several dozen hardcore terrorists who are considered beyond rehabilitation were kept in detention to be tried. It is these people the TNA wants released as ‘political prisoners’. The problem is that they were never political activists or dissidents but the most dangerous terrorists in what was once formally declared by the USA to be the most dangerous terrorist organization in the world.

Another extremely dangerous condition is the appointment of only Tamils as District Secretaries (Government Agents) in the north and east. This combined with the conditions that government jobs in the north and east should be given only to those who are resident in those two provinces, and that the views of the two provincial councils should be respected in matters relating to development work, would be an unprecedented move that will turn the north and east into a ‘liberated zone’ for the TNA.. These are conditions that the opposition should vigorously contest.

11 Responses to “Ranil’s victory: Unique in the democratic world”

  1. Nimal Says:

    He is a honest man living with robbers and it is a tragedy for our country. I noticed our municipality in Kandy worked well without the politicians,perhaps run by the educated civil servants. We need a similar set up in the country where he could run the country with few honest politicians and hardworking CEO of the private sector as cabinet members. Even people at the grass roots are bad as well and it will be a monumental task for the country to survive. We will be taxed to the bone to pay for the criminal debt created by the bad politicians. This can’t go on for ever. Readers and writers must give a sincere thought to this without cheering people who are responsible for the rot in the country. Just go on our roads to see and experience the lawless culture in our country, truly shocking and this is the thin edge of the ….

  2. ranjit Says:

    You say Ranil is honest maybe once upon a time but not now as we saw in the whole bond scam thriller where he brought an outsider in-charge of our main money bank “The Central bank of Sri Lanka” to rob it in gentleman style. What is this bond scam? Who created it? Who was involved in it? Who should be the responsible person regarding billions loss due to the scam? If this Yamapalanaya can arrest and jail innocent people for petty offences then why no one was arrested in this biggest Bank robbery which took place in his ministry? Who allowed him to go scott free after all what he did? Who allowed him to go abroad? Why this Yamapalanaya never bother to bring back this culprit back to the country and who is responsible for our money which was robbed by this coat and tie gentlemen? After all this,still some people say Ranil is honest. What a pity. He should be in jail by now. He has done more crimes than any other leader
    Batalanda was another crime he was responsible. Peace pact with Prabakaran was another one. He is not only a thief but a traitor too. He can win in the parliament by using black money but he cannot win the public trust anymore. He can have his last supper with his Royal regime before the Sri lankan voter send him on retirement in the next general election.

  3. Charles Says:

    Chandrapprema, honest politicians do not exist. Mahinda Rajapakse though accused of corruption left behind on 8 January,2015, a country well developed and progressing fast towards modernity, creating a unity amoung the Communities despite the TNA and the Tamils following them were determined to carryout the program left behind by the terrorist Prabhakaran. Mahinda Rajapakse did not steal any thing and there is no substantial proof of the accusation.

    Ranil W (pseudo clean man), has sold half the country to the Tamil politicians in the North sealing it with his accepting the ten condition for the 16 TNA votes to assure his survival after the NCM. He will sell Sri Lanka to any one without any qualms if only to have a try at the next Presidential election with the assurance coming from the USA and the West.

  4. Christie Says:

    Honest Sinhala politicians are not there since 1956.

    All Sinhala politicians have to rely on Indian and Indian Parasites money.

    1956 was the start of the end of the few Sinhala people with some money.

    So please do not blame the Sinhala leaders. They are just puppets of India and Indian Parasites.

    Mahinda is an exception.

    Parabakaran is an Indian Parasite and he did what Indian directed him.

  5. Dilrook Says:

    On December 23, 1975 Sirima won the no confidence motion against her with over 50 votes (more than Ranil’s 46) only to lose the general election on July 23, 1977 as never before. This is the fate that awaits UNP.

    If history repeats, UNP will be ferociously defeated on November 2, 2019.

    Pro-Ranil parties voted only 35% on February 10 election whereas anti-Ranil parties voted 56% (with a faction of the SLFP). How disconnected our parliament is from ground realities in both 1975 and 2018!

  6. Nihal Perera Says:

    Only naïve idiots think Ponna Ranil is honest….!

    Every time he became PM country ends up with disasters. He doesn’t have what it takes to be a honest, patriotic leader. His priority is to hang on to power and please his colonial masters. He will never give up his UNP leadership until he dies.

    This is the idiot who wanted to celebrate the invasion of SL by Portuguese in 1505. What kind of a leader would suggest such a stupid idea, other than this loser..?

  7. NAK Says:

    Nimal surely must be referring to some other person not RW.
    Sirisena had the whole process maneuvered to suit his agenda and comply the dictats of prince KESHAP!
    But sadly he is so blinded by power that he can not see how unpopular he is in the country that there is noway he can win another presidential election even with support of Ranil and UNP.

  8. Ancient Sinhalaya Says:

    After Rs 5585 day light robbery at the CB with its catholic mafia, [email protected] is an honest deshapaluwa to some people
    living on planet mars. These martians can’t remember Batalanda torture camp where he tortured and killed Buddhist
    jaathidhrohee vemins party aka jvp guys. They also conveniently forgotten traitor UNPatriotic_rats’ BHEESHANA
    SAMAYA when they killed 60,000+ Sinhalese. Also forgot the UNPatriotic_rats sacrificed 100,000+, mainly Sinhalese,
    for [email protected]’s catholic buddy barrelman hitler mala paharan’s catholic tigers of tamil drealam project. Shame on you
    peope who try to whitewash the biggest traitor in the history of the country who has been destroying the Sinhalese
    race, Sri Lanka and Buddhism for the last 40+ years. Of course it’s unique in the ‘democratic world’ who sells his
    country to minorities to save its pathetic skin. We aren’t surprised when we see these sort of people. They are unique to
    the Sinhalese race that still there are people who don’t give a damn about their race!

  9. Fran Diaz Says:

    RW’s “Crash & Sell” program does not care for the ancient & life supportive values of Lanka !
    Is he a suitable person to continue to lead the Nation – to what goals ??

  10. Ananda-USA Says:

    Chandraprema,

    The Desha-Drohi PARA-GATHI AGA-MATHI did not “Win” the NCM because of his excellent brinkmanship!

    He won it because the Desha-drohi Back-stabbing PAPA-NATHI JANA-PATHI betrayed his people AGAIN!

    BE ASSURED that this is NOT the BEGINNING, NOT the END, NOR the END OF THE BEGINNING of the Yamapalanaya, but the BEGINNING OF ITS END because the VOTERS will CONTINUE TO RISE UP to PUNISH thes DROHIYAS for this SHAMEFUL ACT!

    In this connection, I post below a comment I made recently at LankaWeb:

    …………………..
    Dear Charles and other Patriots,

    Do not be SAD! These are the DARK CLOUDS that darken the sky BEFORE the SUN SHINES THROUGH!

    The NCM was DEFEATED because Maithripala Sirisena decided to ABANDON his Sinhala Buddhist Community and PERSUADED 26 of his SLFP faction MPs to stand aside WITHOUT VOTING for it. This is a DESHADROHI ACT of HIGH ORDER!

    This ONE ACT of these TRAITORS is now INDELIBLY ETCHED in the minds of the Sinhala Buddhist VOTER whose support they must have in the NEXT ELECTIONS! It is the VOTER who will decide the OUTCOME, not the 225 Mee Harak in Parliament!

    NO AMOUNT of FAKE Propaganda, Party Reorganizations and Holier-Than-Thou homilies can CONFUSE and OBFUSCATE these FACTS!

    COME NEXT ELECTIONS, ALL TRAITORS in the Yamapalanaya in the SLFP and the UNP will be BOOTED OUT and PUNISHED SEVERELY!

    Until then, we MUST CARRY ON and STAY THE COURSE waving the LION FLAG held high!

    I REMEMBER VERY WELL the DEEP GLOOM and DOOM of the period before MR launched the War-Winning, Nation-Reunifying WAR EFFORT! No one believed that we could accomplish the DEFEAT of the LTTE with such VERVE and DASH, but WE DID! Those HEROES and their LEADERS are STILL with US …. NEVER FEAR!

    The NEXT VICTORY to come will REVIVE and CONSOLIDATE the WAR VICTORY and the astonishing RAPID NATIONAL PROGRESS under the MR/UPFA administration. That is a CERTAINTY …. if we REMAIN STEADFAST and STAY the COURSE!

    THe DARKEST DAYS usually PRECEDE the BRIGHTEST!

  11. Hiranthe Says:

    I don’t think CAC has meant that Run-nil is a honest politician. CAC is a patriotic journalist from my point of view and he always look for the safeguard of Mother Lanka.

    Run-nil was never honest to the land. in 2005 he brought the CFA and almost helped to establish the Ealam. This time is no different.

    Dilrook is right. “If history repeats, UNP will be ferociously defeated on November 2, 2019”

    This opportunistic Run-nil himself paved the way for that defeat. We know that the new constitution will be only a dream as Maha Sanga and most of the people rejected it and they will keep watching. In-fact most will be watching this 10 point list and protest against it. So nothing will happen and as a result, TNA will not support Run-nil in future.

    Arjun Mahendran may be innocent and he became the escape-goat. Money was looted by Run-nil / Malik and the crowd and Arjun helped them. Arjun Alocious help them by keeping the money in the company, otherwise belong to UNP. This is like shooting the messenger. The master plan is by Run-nil and his close associates, not Arjuns… Now all are waiting to arrest Arjun Mahendran while the master mind Run-nil is winning the NCM in the parliament.

    What a joke and a pathetic situation.

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