After 30 electoral defeats Ranil thinks he is still a leader
Posted on January 19th, 2020

H. L. D. Mahindapala

Ranil Wickremesinghe’ss refusal to quit, when the rising waves of the UNP are pushing him out, confirms his total inability to grasp the grinding power of the ground realities that had knocked him out 30 times in the power struggle with his opponents in the electoral field – a fate that has haunted his entire political career. He has yet to learn the lesson taught by King Canute : you can’t dictate to unstoppable waves with royal (no pun intended!) commands. He is fighting with his back to wall to stall the UNP young Turks rising against him with a vengeance. Ranil’s defence, according to the newspaper reports, is typical of his arguments which expose his febrile intellect and congenital inability to be an effective leader. His arguments and his tactics had never worked to save him, or his party, or the nation. (I’ll come to this later).

At the moment he is arguing, according to newspapers, that he had consulted key figures, including prelates (possibly Malwatte Mahanayake) who had told him not to quit. This is a childish argument of a baby in a crib crying for some sustenance for survival and not that of a mature leader. Can anyone of those henchmen who back him make him win elections? Or give him the power he needs to be a leader?  Power has been slipping out of him with each election he had lost. The power within the Party has demonstrably  shifted to the young leader, Sajith Premadasa. The numbers are with him. And Ranil is left with only a handful of creepy-crawly invertebrates who had endorsed him. How far can he go with them?

Politics depends on hard analysis however repugnant it may be to the panjandrums holding power. And the grim truth is that Ranil is unwanted by the party, by his fellow Parliamentarians and, most of all by the people. The time has come for him to go. He must bow down now to the will of the people who had rejected him 30 times.

It is a unique record in the electoral politics of the democratic world. Leaving aside all the other arguments, he should know that in the hallowed traditions of Westminster parliamentary system he should have resigned each time he was rejected by the people. To hang on to the seat of the leader after 30 defeats is an abominable travesty of all accepted and known norms and traditions of parliamentary democracy. He has made a mockery of democracy. No political leader in the mainstream had subverted the democratic traditions as disgustingly as Ranil Wickremesinghe. He has been a political pervert who has had no qualms about abusing power to survive in politics. Now I understand why Socrates, Plato and Aristotle dismissed democracy as an undesirable form of government. They knew that the likes of Ranil would take over democracies and twist it to serve their mean ends. As Alcibiades, one of the Athenians, said democracy is acknowledged folly.”  (p.99 – Athenian Democracy, A. H. M. Jones, Professor Ancient History, Cambridge).

The highlight of Ranil’s Parliamentary career reached its climax when he was seen flapping his arms like a chook without a head on the floor of the House and shouting: Kavuda Hora! Kavuda Hora!” to cover up his role in the bond scandal. In between he was egging his stooges to follow his example! It is the most ridiculous show I’ve seen on the floor of the House – and I’ve seen Parliamentary performance as the lobby correspondent for The Observer from the days when the old Parliament stood as a monument of democracy with intellectual giants, from both sides of the House, dominating each sitting.  As I said earlier, it is the transparent  cheap tactics of Ranil that makes him the biggest joker in the pack. He lacks substance. He has cunning but where has it taken him, his party and the nation?

Besides, he doesn’t deserve to be a leader because he has shown no leadership qualities in any field to pull the nation out of the major crises into which it had fallen when he was leading the UNP,  one of the great political parties in the post-Independent era. Consider his role in the critical crises he had handled as the leader: 1. ending the North – South war and restoration of peace; 2. maintaining and protecting the sacred institutions of democracy: the legislature, executive and judiciary; 3. economy, 4, security  and 5. combating corruption.

The sixth is the fate of the UNP under his stewardship. The  self-destructive in-fighting speaks for itself. Never has the UNP fallen into such disrepute and degeneracy traumatising not only the Party but the nation as well. This apart, he should be judged mainly on his role in the five main issues listed above.  Which one did he solve? Any leader who had solved any one of these issues that  plagued the nation — the longest war, erosion of moral values, loss of security, corrosive corruption etc.,– would deserve the eternal gratitude of history. But is there anything remarkable or memorable in his role in any one of these crises? What everyone knows is that he has worsened the situation each time he stepped into each crisis. So how will history judge him? Will history categorise him as a male Queen Anula surrounded by Tamil gigolos? Will his red-lipped Secretary’s letter be the final epitaph on his gravestone? Will history hang him with the bond noose tightened round his neck? Will generations to come spit on the memory of his traitorous move to let our heroic soldiers be tried by foreign judges for  saving the nation  and  democracy from the tyranny of the fascist Tamil Tigers and restoring the peace that he could not restore with his fake Cease Fire Agreement in 2002?

No leader in the post-independent era had misread, misjudged and misdirected the nation as Ranil. That is why he could not tackle any one of the major issue listed above. He pretended to be the solution. But on each issue he became the problem. He never knew how to handle a problem head-on and work out a solution to the last detail. He always took refuge under his numerous committees. He never grasped the dynamics of the political culture of the people. Ideologically he was most comfortable with the West and their agents in NGOs who ran his agenda. Neither he nor his catchers” in the foreign-funded NGOs ever produced a viable solution to any one of the national crises. He failed because he followed the NGO agenda abandoning the mainstream culture.  Which one of their confidence – building theories ever helped to end the war? Which one of the political, military and territorial concessions made by Ranil helped the nation to regain peace? The fake theories and futile peace deal with Norway led Ranil and NGOs nowhere.

Without any highfalutin theories Mahinda Rajapakse showed results by doing what had to be done with his brother Gotabaya Rajapakse. A leader is known by his victories and not by his defeats. Ranil has never shown any leadership qualities. Now he is a tired old man, exhausted septuagenarian, with nothing new to offer except further defeats. Is this what the Party needs? With his demoralising record of successive defeats he would not survive one day if he was a leader in a Western democracy.  He knows it. So why does he want to hang on to the  chair in Siri Kotha from which he cannot deliver results? The acid test on which he can be retained as the leader depends on what new strategies he has to offer to win back the Sinhala-Buddhist base he lost in the last election. How can a leader who is prominent  Dayakaya of the Gangaramaya Viharaya – mark you, he also comes from a leading Buddhist family – lose his Sinhala-Buddhist base? It is the refusal of the Sinhala-Buddhists to recognise him as their trustworthy leader that has damned him forever and no one is to be blamed  except his warped politics that made him believe that his future is in the West and  NGOs.

Ranil Wickremesinghe is now a scared man clutching at straws. He is facing a future without pomp, glory and power. Like the way he did not know how to handle power he is now befuddled not knowing how to live without power. Throughout his adult life he had not earned his crust with any hard labour. He did a brief stint in Senator Tiruchelvam’s chamber and that is a tale not worth telling. The rest of his time he had been a free-loader living off the public purse. He has been living the highlife holding public office, junketing abroad, hobnobbing with the bigwigs like George Soros who had virtually ignored him, or paying pooja to Buddhist prelates while stabbing Buddhism in the back with his NGO ”catchers”. His best political buddy was Mangala Samaraweera who now takes refuge only in the Buddha and Dhamma and not the Sangha. He is surrounded by a gang of mediocrities who had contributed their best to run the most despised  kakistocracy in the history of the nation.

His known record shows that he has not produced anything worthwhile to make him look like a leader who can be trusted to make the nation great.  Take, for instance his 19th Amendment – his great political initiative that was supposed to be the ko-ka-tath thigh-layer” (cure all). None of the so-called independent institutions set up under it lived up to the promised expectations. A good example is the Police Commission. His hand-picked expert, Prof. Siri Hettige, bolted from his job as Chairman, on some silly pretext within a few months. Ranil’s other handpicked head of the Police, IGP, Pujitha Jayasundera, is in remand jail. Instead of being independent the IGP was caught on camera saying Yes, Sir. I will not arrest him, Sir” to one of his political masters. Within hundred days of Ranil assuming office he imported Ali Baba from Singapore to rob the Central Bank. That was the beginning. The end was filled with dramatic thrills. Full of fireworks. All the evidence hidden in Ranil’s corrupt and degenerate regime was exposed in Ranjan Ramanyake’s tapes.

If the bond ropes fail to hang Ranil then surely the Ranjan tapes doing the rounds in social media will certainly be sufficient to tighten round his neck and choke him. Whatever credibility there was in Ranil’s regime has been eroded with a few recorded telephones calls. It is the explosive revelations of the hitherto unsuspected operations in Ranil’s regime that have come to light. Every bit of it makes Ranil look like a the most inept, corrupt and disreputable leader ever produced in the history of the nation.

His chief partner in the crimes against the three pillars of the state – the legislature, the executive and the judiciary – has been Karu Jayasuriya, the Speaker. Together they reduced the Parliament to a brothel. Which Parliament in recorded history had appointed a leader with only 16 MPs in a House of 225 MPs as the leader of the opposition? He was imitting his uncle JR’ who appointed  Appapillai Amirthalingam to spite and deprive Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike her legitimate place. Jointly with the consent of Karu he manipulated Parliament to avoid the necessary scrutiny of the biggest daylight robbery of the Central Bank. Jointly, with the consent of the Speaker, he introduced subjects that needed two-thirds majority into  bills that  could pass with a simple majority. As the veteran Parliamentarian from the old House, D. E. W. Gunasekera said in a TV interview Ranil never led a debate or wound up a debate on major issues like the budget. Nor  did he not command the respect of the House like Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike and Dudley Senanayake who had only turn round and stare at the back benchers to  quieten them down. On the contrary, he led mob rule on the floor like burning the CBK- Tiruchevlam peace deal inside the House.

After presiding over the biggest bank robbery of the nation, after using Parliament as a corrupt institution to legalise his shady deals, after agreeing to hand over our soldiers to be condemned by foreign judges, after the collapse of the 19th Amendment, after instituting the illegal FICD as a Star chamber to persecute his political opponents, after joining  the NGOs to run their agenda against  the will of the people, after undercutting his own deputy in the Presidential election, after failing to give any hope to the nation during his stewardship, after letting himself down with his pathetic performance to hang on to a leadership slipping away from his hands, and now after the Ranjan tapes exposing how his regime perverted the key institutions of the state, including the judiciary, is there any purpose in retaining him as their useless leader?

Every move Ranil makes indicate that he is desperate to hang on to power. He is bent on hanging on to power and not to give any constructive or promising leadership. Well, he has had power in his hands for over two decades. What good has it done to anyone, including him?

Ranil is trapped in his self-centred, dog-in-the-manger brand of politics. He knows he can’t win. Nor does he want any anyone else to win, if he can’t win. UNP at this stage is faced with a critical issue: Is the UNP ready to go for surgery to cure the cancer eating its heart out from within? Ranil is a political patient who can’t be cured. Obviously, the answer is to get rid of him. If it doesn’t happen today it will have to happen tomorrow. That is inevitable.

He has been the bane of the Party. And also of the nation. Moving him out will be like moving out an evil planet casting its malefic spell on earth.

The future depends on the UNPers fast-forwarding their clocks.

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