Confusion worse confounded
Posted on July 6th, 2019

Editorial Courtesy The Island

July 6, 2019, 8:12 pm 

The country is where it is thanks to partisan party politics which takes precedence over everything else. The economy is struggling to remain afloat and the tourism sector is still lying supine following the Easter Sunday carnage. Another National Thowheed Jamaath cadre wanted in connection with the terror strikes in April has been arrested. This is proof that the situation is not so rosy as the government has made it out to be. The suspect in custody cannot be the only terrorist left. But, both the government and the Opposition carry on regardless. They are busy with their presidential election campaigns.

The UNP is doing a Santa, giving pay hikes to the public sector and handouts to the needy in a desperate bid to make up lost ground. Its election-oriented programmes such as the expansion of the Samurdhi Scheme to include 600,000 more people are bound to deal a crippling blow to the state coffers. The state-owned banks are experiencing difficulties due to the political loans they are made to grant without collateral. Not to be outdone, the SLFP is also doing its damnedest to shore up its crumbling image. President Maithripala Sirisena is on a spending spree. He seems to think that the best way to win future elections is to hang convicted drug dealers. The SLPP is berating both the UNP and the SLFP. Instead of concentrating on main issues that the government has failed to tackle and offering solutions thereto, it is behaving like a bull in a china shop. It has stopped ratcheting up pressure on the government to conduct the much-delayed Provincial Council (PC) polls. Its bark is worse than its bite.

Interestingly, none of these three parties has been able to announce its presidential candidate yet. It is widely thought that the SLPP will field former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who is already acting like a presidential candidate. But the SLPP lacks confidence to announce his candidacy, and whether he will be able to clear obstacles in his path remains to be seen. The SLFP is all at sea. Its General Secretary Dayasiri Jayasekera says President Maithripala Sirisena will seek a second term, but the latter, true to form, is blowing hot and cold on the issue. The SLFP is also having talks with the SLPP to form an electoral alliance and field a common candidate so that there will not be a split in the anti-UNP vote. Their endeavour is not likely to reach fruition because Sirisena is not likely to opt out of the presidential contest. If he ever does so, all those who threw in their lot with him will be reduced to political orphans overnight, and some of them may even join the UNP.

The UNP seems to have two presidential hopefuls —its leader Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and its Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa, who has got more assertive unlike in the past. Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera is busy politicking while the economy is screaming. He has publicly announced that Premadasa is the ideal presidential candidate. The same view has been expressed by some other UNP MPs as well. The UNP’s problem is to reconcile these two groups in time for the presidential election. This is an uphill task in that one faction is bound to be frustrated in case of its failure to have its favourite fielded. A divided UNP will not be able to make the most of the problems in the Opposition.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe has gone on record as saying that the much-delayed PC elections cannot be held in September, and the party leaders have not even discussed the issue yet. Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa has chosen to remain silent. This statement runs counter to Chairman of the National Election Commission Mahinda Deshapriya’s position. Deshapriya has publicly declared that he will resign from his post if the PC polls do not precede the next presidential election. Chances are that he will have step down before the presidential election, and the image of the government will suffer further damage in such an eventuality.

The signs are that while the main political parties are struggling, unable to name their presidential candidates, the NEC will have to look for a new head.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.



Copyright © 2023 All Rights Reserved. Powered by Wordpress