Ranil put down at Sajith’s manifesto launch
Posted on November 6th, 2019

H. L. D. Mahindapala

Part I

The launching of the UNP manifesto in Kandy under the auspices of the UNP’s Kandyan Chief, Lakshman Kiriella, exposed what the UNP has been trying to hide from the public. First, it exposed the entrenched internal split between Sajith Premadasa and Ranil Wickremesinghe. All the signs of the growing rift were displayed for those with eyes to see. It was pathetic to see the Leader of the Party, Ranil Wickremesinghe, sitting in a chair in the front row and fiddling with the pages of a pamphlet (possibly the manifesto) with nothing to do or say, while Victor Ivan, the founder Editor of the Ravaya, who celebrated the assassination of President Ranasinghe Premadasa in his newspaper, was invited to deliver the key-note speech. Promoting Victor to the centre stage of the UNP is a bizarre event by any standards particularly when the Leader of the Party is kept below as a non-entity. . Judging from the division displayed at the launch of the manifesto it is bound to grow like the  Dudley-JR split. This divisive trend will not only undermine the stability of the Party in time to come but also threaten the unity and the progress of the nation with their in-fighting. As they say in Africa, when elephants fight it is the ants that get killed.

Normally on the day of the launch of the manifesto of any party – the most critical statement that defines the policies and the programmes of a party on the eve of an election – the leader takes centre stage. Political optics and necessities dictate that on this day the leader of the party should at least share the centre stage with the Presidential candidate. But Ranil was allotted a seat in the front row and left to warm it till the end like any other occupant of seats in the audience with nothing to do or say. The marginalisation of Ranil at this most important event reveals that the split has gone very far deep into the body politic of the UNP.

Missing from the scene was also Mrs. Maithree Wickremesinghe, wife of the Leader of the UNP. Usually, she stands by the side of Ranil on all important state and party functions. So why was she missing on this occasion? Isn’t she indicating that she feels the pain of her husband? Isn’t she saying that if the Party has kicked her husband downstairs why should she lend her support with her presence? As stated earlier, optics matter in public affairs. While her husband was ruefully calculating his next move at the launch she, being a lecturer in English at Kelaniya University, must have been ruminating at home about the oft-repeated lines in Shakespeare’s King Lear :

Talk of court news; and we’ll talk with them too,
Who loses and who wins; who’s in, who’s out; (King Lear, Act V, Sc.III, 16).

So is Ranil out of the inner court of Sajith? Or is he on the way out totally, sooner or later? With the rise of Sajith in the UNP it is clear that, as of now, he has only fallen out with Ranil. In the process, it is also clear that he has fallen into the grip of Mangala Samaraweera who has emerged as the  main minder of the  UNP presidential campaign. But  this new alliance is no less divisive and dangerous than the earlier one with Ranil. Mangala is one of the most virulent pro-US, pro-Tamil Diaspora agent in the UNP. The consequences of this political alliance will be irreversibly detrimental to the nation. (More of this later).

Ranil, in the meantime, has some breathing space till, perhaps, May 2020 when he will face the people to receive the final sentence from an angry nation. But the question hanging in the air, like the sword of Damocles, is quite plain: if the Leader is demoted to the front row with nothing to say or do on one of the most significant dates, who’s leading the Party? Which way is the UNP swinging now? If Mangala is leading  the anti-Sangha, anti-national wing of the UNP is there any meaning in the thick pirith noola displayed by Sajith in his right hand?

As stated earlier, it is absolutely bizarre for the leader of a party not to utter one word on the day the manifesto is launched. According to news reports, he was silenced and made to sit still in the front row twiddling his fingers because he had offended and damaged the image of Sajith  Premadasa’s  by saying the wrong thing at a press conference held at Temple Tress”, his official residence. Instead of saying that Sajith who is the UNP candidate should be elected for the good of the nation, or because he is the  right  candidate, Ranil put his foot in the mouth when he declared that if the people want him as Prime Minister they should elect Sajith Premadasa as President.

It is no doubt a patronising statement which is offensive. This is unadulterated Ranil big noting himself. Obviously, Ranil was going all out to belittle Sajith. This is predictable because he has not yet got over the pain of the Party rejecting him as the Presidential candidate and this is his way of telling the Party that if Sajith wins (???) it will be because the people had voted not for Sajith but for him. In his delusional way he fancies that the people are waiting to elect him as the Prime minister in 2020. As usual he is refusing to recognise the blunt logic facing him: will the man who was rejected by the Party be accepted by the people?

Ranil is also indicating that he is going along with Sajith in the presidential elections because that would pave the way for his victory in the parliamentary election. In that case, isn’t that the very reason why people should not vote for Sajith?

Clearly, Ranil is sharpening his knives to cut Sajith down to size. He is putting Sajith in his place even before either of them get into their seats of power. The election is yet to confirm their ambitions. But Ranil is jumping in first to make it known that he still calls the shots. Sajith’s reaction was predictable. The Party picked Sajith because Ranil is the best known loser. If he was in the test team Arjuna Ranatunga would have thrown him out on his ears years ago.

In his characteristic style, Ranil was attempting to inflate his image as the indispensable man in the UNP. Naturally, this statement had backfired and the social media was all agog with this remark. Result: Sajith and his minders decided to punish Ranil, the Leader of the Party, by marginalising him at the launch. Ranil still refuses to accept that he has been digging his own grave.  Rejected by the people for the umpteenth time at the polls, rejected by his party once again to be the Presidential candidate, he has now been thrown out of the centre stage to a seat on the floor, with nothing to do, or nothing to say. Is there another place lower than that for a leader of the Party? How many more indignities is he going to suffer before he faces the day of reckoning?

Second point exposed at the launch was even worse. The UNP minders of Sajith rubbed salt into the wounds of Ranil when they invited Victor Ivan, the man who went all out to crush the UNP, to deliver the key note address of the day. Can anyone imagine Ranasinghe Premadasa sitting as a silent spectator on a seat on the floor with nothing to do or say on the day of launching the party’s manifesto? The choice of Victor Ivan as a key-note speaker in itself was bizarre. He was not only in the top of ranks of fascist JVP that set out to destroy parliamentary democracy and all its institutions through brutal violence but also the bomb-maker of  the fascist JVP that killed thousands of innocent civilians.. 

Besides, Sajith knows that Victor joined Lalith Athulathmudali and Gamini Dissanayake to denigrate and destroy his father, President Premadasa, Victor launched his Ravaya with the main objective of destabilising the presidency of Premadasa. He launched his tabloid with the blessings of the Western and Indian embassies who joined hands to overthrow Premadasa. The irony of ironies staged at the launch of the manifesto is stunning : Sajith Premadasa had picked the editor who celebrated the death of his father in the Ravaya to deliver the key note address at the launch of his manifesto.

And Sajith got what he deserved. Victor began by saying that he has not come to talk about Sajith’s manifesto. With that introduction he launched into an agenda of his own. Victor took the opportunity market his koka-tath-thailaya (cure-all). He told the true believers of the UNP that Sajith’s dream” in the manifesto is good but it will not solve the crisis of the nation. According to his sermon there is only one solution: a new constitution which is also the main demand of TNA, NGOs, and the Ranil-Mangala Samaraweera combo of the UNP.

The demand for a new constitution comes mainly from these groups. Their main objective is to reconstruct the constitution to fulfil the demands of a political cabal of mono-ethnic separatists seeking to impose their rule of the Tamils, by the Tamils, for the Tamils only, (all of which is disguised as federalism), over two-thirds of the coastline and its hinterland. Not satisfied with the new constitution-makers are also bent on guaranteeing that the rest of the one-third should also be governed on principles of pluralistic diversity where the majority must be forced to abandon their traditional heritage and govern according to the minority demands.

In other words, the political equation in the proposed new constitution runs like this: 100% untrammelled minoritarian rights will rule the North and the East but the majority will not be entitled to 100% of their rights to rule the South. The majority will have to divide their 100% equally with the minority which will leave them roughly 50% of their rights, with some luck. And pundits like Victor hope to build reconciliation and peace on this formula of enshrining only minority rights at the expense of the majority. The constitution-makers will ensure  that the minorities will have a share of power not only to dominate what they claim to be their ethnic enclave but also the rest of the nation.

In other words, the majority must keep their doors open to entertain all the demands of the minority – even when they take an  extremist and violent turn – but the minority must be given the power to shut the world out (with cadjan curtains) for them to  rule it their way. Can throwing  the weight of the constitution in the direction of one minority solve the problems of  all the  other communities? Can  that be a viable constitution? Or is it a con of fake theoreticians whose constitutions  are  designed  to explode in their own hands like the bombs they made? 

Victor Ivan began to change  constitutions when he joined Rohana Wijeweera, the Sinhala  Pol Pot. When that failed he jumped into Chandrika Bandaranaike’s camp. When that failed again he jumped into Mahinda Rajapakse’s camp. From there he jumped into the lap of Ranil Wickremesinghe – a dangerous place. Now he has jumped brazenly into the laps of Mangala-Sajith duo. It is predictable, that he will lead them to a futile end, as before. If he thinks that his new constitution will solve the problems that has plagued the nation during the last 71 years then he must think again.

PS: The full video  of the proceedings of the launch was on Facebook.

One Response to “Ranil put down at Sajith’s manifesto launch”

  1. Nihal Perera Says:

    Sri Lankan politics is not only bizarre, but the Lankan politicians are the biggest self-centered, selfish, greedy, pathetic bunch of liars that will sell their mothers to get what they want.

    The worst them of all are Ranil, Mangala, Kiriella, Rajitha Senaratna, Sajith, Ravi, etc.. They will do anything to stay in power, at any cost. They don’t care about the country or its people. All they after is power and how they can squeeze the blood out of the country – by hook or crook.

    There is no guarantee who will win the up coming election, but I hope and pray that the majority of Lankan voters will not forget how Ranil and 40 thieves robbed and nearly bankrupted the country for the last four years – under the pretence of democracy, good governance, HR’s, and freedom, which was nothing but heap of BS to promote their hidden agenda of selling the country and its valuable resources.

    If Lankan voters are not careful in selecting the right candidate as their next president, then they can kiss it goodbye – the only country we Sinhalese have to call our motherland.

    In my opinion, Gota (though not perfect..), is the ONLY credible, visionary, patriotic leader, who is capable, with a proven track record of getting the job done, without caving to minority and foreign demands.

    I hope (and pray..) that voters will realise it before its too late.

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