Curiouser and curiouser!
Posted on September 5th, 2016

Editorial Courtesy The Island


President Maithripala Sirisena waxed eloquent at the SLFP’s 65th session in Kurunegala on Sunday. Calling upon all SLFPers to unite, he made a solemn vow to form an SLFP government. The SLFP, he said, would contest the next local government polls under its own hand symbol. Is it that the UPFA is now kaput? Or, does the President want UPFA constituents to contest under the SLFP symbol?

Intriguingly, President has said he was still an SLFP member when he contested the last presidential election, where he, with the help of the UNP, the TNA etc defeated the candidate of the SLFP-led UPFA, Mahinda Rajapaksa. The first thing he did after being sworn in as President was to sack the then SLFP-led government, consisting of 126 MPs representing the SLFP, about 24 MPs from other UPFA constituents and some UNP crossovers. He did so in keeping with a pre-election pledge that he would make the then Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe Prime Minister (who had only 46 MPs) upon being elected. Thereafter, he prevented the SLFP-led UPFA from winning the last parliamentary polls by making public statements and addresses to the nation aimed at scuttling Rajapaksa’s attempt to become Prime Minister; those utterances demoralised the SLFP voters beyond measure and stood the UNP in good stead. The President successfully thwarted his bete noire’s determined effort to make a comeback as the PM and challenge his authority, but his gain proved to be the SLFP’s loss. After the polls, he prevented a group of 51 SLFP and other UPFA MPs from becoming the official Opposition and, thereby, ensured Rajapaksa would become an ordinary MP. Now, he is vowing to form an SLFP government!

President Sirisena’s act of sacking the SLFP-led administration last year and helping form UNP-led government to achieve his political objectives reminds us of a pithy local saying, which, roughly rendered into English, means breaking an atuwa (traditional paddy storage bin made of strong hardwood) to make a putuwa (chair). When he says he now wants to form an SLFP government one wonders whether he is planning to break the putuwa to rebuild the atuwa!

When President Sirisena sacked the SLFP-led government he declared that he was brininging the two main parties together for the good of the country. He reiterated that claim when he and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe formed what is being flaunted as the national unity government after the last general election. (This power sharing arrangement they craftily adopted to circumvent a constitutional restriction on the number of ministerial posts does not stand up to legal scrutiny. For, the parties that have to come together to form a national government, according to the 19th Amendment, are the UNP and the UPFA, which contested the last parliamentary polls, and not the SLFP which was only a constituent of the UPFA.)

We were also told that the longstanding, acrimonious power struggle between the SLFP and the UNP had been the bane of the country; the two parties had been vying for power at the expense of the national interests, both the President and the Prime Minister said. The way forward was for the SLFP and the UNP to sink their difference and unite, they insisted. That move earned the President and the Prime Minister international acclaim as well. Even some panjandrums of western governments who may not know where on earth Sri Lanka is, sent congratulatory messages. The civil society organisations painted the town red, welcoming as they did the ‘national unity government’, which they claimed was a long felt need to bring about national progress and reconciliation. They also vowed to defend it to the hilt.

Alas, now, President Sirisena wants to bring the national unity government to an end, to all intents and purposes, and form an SLFP government! Have the SLFP and the UNP accomplished their mission––bringing about national reconcilation and progress––for them to consider parting company?

President Sirisena’s assertion that he did not leave the SLFP to contest the last presidential election though he entered the fray as the New Democratic Front candidate and, therefore, he could take over the party after his victory is counterproductive. For, the SLFP dissidents can now follow suit; they can contest the next LG polls from another party without leaving the SLFP and claim they have not violated the party discipline and, therefore, they cannot be sacked.

One Response to “Curiouser and curiouser!”

  1. plumblossom Says:

    The prima factory has been provided a ten per recent tax break by this treacherous UNP government. This amounts to 135,000 million rupees. We wonder how much of this ended up funding the UNP election campaigns? This vast amount of money, 135,000 million rupees could have been used to purchase rice at Rs.50 per kilogramme minimum from all rice farmers.

    Meanwhile, while Thailand, Burma etc. eats rice, even their presidents eat rice, our idiotic Sinhala people’s rice consumption in kilogrammes per annum has gone down. Instead Sinhala people’s wheat consumption per kilogramme per annum has gone up. We are today spending vast amounts of foreign exchange purchasing wheat making US farmers happy and the prima company rich while we keep consuming wheat. All the while our Sri Lankan rice farmers are suffering due to reduction of rice consumption.

    We should urge the treacherous UNP Government to reinstate the ten per cent tax on wheat and bring on a programme to increase rice consumption in the country. However this US imperialist worshipping subservient government will do no such thing.

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