FIGHTING IN POLLS FOR A FIGHTING CHANCE
Posted on July 3rd, 2020

By Rohana R. Wasala Courtesy The Island

Today, at the end of seventy two years of  so-called independence, Sri Lanka finds itself pushed to the edge of a precipice, despite the many sacrifices made by patriots in blood, sweat and tears for its unity and stability as a flourishing sovereign state during that period (and before, for that matter, over two millennia). Sri Lankans are teetering on the brink of the dark abyss of an uncertain, unsettled and chaotic future through no fault of theirs (or rather, paradoxically, through their very innocence and decency). They have been entrapped in this position by cold calculating inimical political forces, internal and external, treacherously assisted by the customary opportunism of a couple of minority politicians who inflame communal sentiments within their respective communities, while striking a feigned nationalist pose among the majority community voters during elections; this entrapment is equally strongly supported by the hypocritical, shortsighted, ‘political correctness’ postures that mainstream politicians assume in order to placate the handful of minority communalists while ignoring the progressive up and coming non-communalist young generation of politicians  in those communities. The appeasement of racist minority politicians by the big national politicians hampers the successful emergence of their progressive rivals.  

The mainstream polity (composed of the usually Sinhala speaking 75% and the usually Tamil speaking -Tamil and Muslim – 25%) is divided between the two traditional main camps generally identified with the right of centre, decidedly West-dependent, UNP which looks upon its cynical nonchalance towards the majority Sinhala Buddhist community as a main plank of its politics (designed to attract minority votes and the approval of the interventionist foreign powers who hardly care about the humanity of Sri Lankans) and the left of centre SLFP with traditional nationalist leanings, which also feels induced to conceal its sensitivity to the just demands of the majority community lest it be misconstrued as something prejudicial to the minorities. 

Internal and external enemies of the state are exploiting this situation, among other things, for their own advantage. In the engineered regime change in January 2015, the UNP and a section of the SLFP that opportunistically joined its general secretary who had betrayed his boss to win the presidency (as part of a conspiracy), formed a coalition government called Yahapalanaya. The Yahapalanaya appointed its own subservient opposition consisting of communalist and sectarian minority parties and the JVP. That official opposition actually provided the previous regime with a bulwark against the real, but legally unrecognised, opposition that came to be called the Joint Opposition. The latter comprised the majority of the UPFA that fought the Yahapalana misgovernance tooth and nail; but its success rate was less than what it should have been, principally because foreign intervention queered its pitch (with, for example, diplomats of meddling foreign powers cheering from the lobby of Parliament during the forced passage of hotly debated pieces of nationally harmful legislation). With the release, on June 23, 2020, of the report of the expert committee on the Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact (which had been introduced secretly under the previous regime in violation of a supposedly sovereign people’s democratic rights), ordinary Sri Lankans have started getting an idea of where they have been deceitfully led to by the powers that be. 

 People don’t know whether the MCC Compact is already a fait accompli. Hopefully, it is not, though two preliminary agreements have already been signed under Yahapalanaya. But there is hardly any doubt about the stand taken in this regard by the current president and the SLPP government: they are against signing it. However, a final disposition of the MCC agreement issue will very much depend on the quality of the next parliament.  MPs of the common mould who have taken to politics out of selfish motives far outnumber the patriotic few. They have earned a bad name for all politicians. They engage in their petty schemes to grab power oblivious of  the behemoth of superpower domination camouflaged with the clothes of ‘human rights’ and ‘Western democracy’, breathing down the neck of Sri Lanka. Ordinary citizens are becoming more and more aware of this existential threat to the nation, among other similar crises.  Hence, MPs, be they members of the government or of the opposition, particularly after the disastrous Yahapalana experience, have come to be indiscriminately censured by the public as the (despicable) ‘225’. Apparently, even the MPs of the past are not exempted from this universal condemnation. Of course, not all MPs of the past or of the present deserve such universal denunciation. Yet it cannot be denied that they are collectively responsible for betraying the country to Western imperialist aggression through their failure to manage internal majority vs minority politics so as to create national unity. While establishing such unity is the shared responsibility of leaders of all communities, the onus is especially on the leaders of the majority Sinhalese, who should be able to persuade the few racist minority politicians to accept what is good for the whole nation before acceding to their self-centred parochial demands for the sake their support in parliament. Until November 2019, mere political expediency seemed to have determined the conduct of the average MP, who is content being a shrewd survivalist. Only the few notable exceptions that there are understand, or possess enough brains to understand, what the country needs to ensure its long term survival as an independent sovereign nation. 

Fortunately, the unholy Yahapalana alliance broke up before its commitments to its interventionist foreign sponsors could be fully honoured, leaving the UNP and the SLFP disintegrated beyond any hope of reintegration. The nationalist forces from all communities have joined a common front under the leadership of the SLPP that is already poised to overwhelm the next parliament (unless something untoward happens as in August 2015), while the UNP, fragmented into four or five directionless small factions, is barely hovering between life and death, its feuding leaders having become popular laughing stocks among the impatiently waiting electorate through their funny electioneering shenanigans and inane utterances on the campaign trail. The genuinely patriotic elements among the rank and file of the grand old party find themselves left in the lurch by their self-absorbed leaders. But when the time comes, they will join the nationalists, for they are sure to realise, if they have average intelligence, that only a nationalist victory will save the country for all its citizens, irrespective of race, religion, and politics, as an independent sovereign state where they can hope to eventually resuscitate their historic party, that will eventually emerge as a worthy rival to the SLPP. 

Sri Lanka will not survive as an independent sovereign nation unless it manages to break loose of the stranglehold of the hegemonic West which operates through the UNP and its opportunistic allies. Antinationalist forces enjoy an advantage in the existing electoral system that does not allow a clear winner to emerge at parliamentary elections, which results in minority parties becoming kingmakers. This allows communalist minority politicians to play politics at the expense of the broad national interest, whichever of the two main parties or respective alliances led by them comes to power with their assistance. Until Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s resounding victory in November 2019 it was accepted wisdom that a presidential candidate cannot win on the strength of Sinhalese votes alone. 

But Gotabaya’s election was an unplanned/unintended/unexpected exposure of that long existing fallacy. Does this mean that the Sri Lankan electorate is permanently divided into two blocs: majority vs minorities? No. During campaigning for the presidential election, nationalists led by Gotabaya and Mahinda made all possible overtures to the minorities to become partners of the historic victory that was by then assured, though they already knew they could win even without their participation. The final result showed that the minority contribution to Gotabaya’s election was less than what was expected. This was because of the influence of the few powerful communalist minority politicos over their polity. After the election, Gotabaya said that, though he won because the majority of the majority voted for him (notwithstanding the fact that the majority of the minorities voted for his rivals despite his pre-poll appeal to them to support him), he was elected president for all Sri Lankans and invited them to participate in nation building with him. His conduct during the election and after has shown that he is eminently suitable for the job he has been elected for. But he is being hampered by the absence of a parliament that can work with him. The non-racist ordinary Tamils and Muslims are getting a chance to help the majority Sinhalese elect that parliament on August 5.  

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