What diehard UNPers’ say!
Posted on November 12th, 2019

By Dr. UPUL WIJAYAWARDHANA Courtesy The Island


It looks as if the last lap of the Presidential election campaign were turning out to be a mud-slinging match. Sorry, I should correct myself to say, a mud-slinging campaign; as one side seems to be doing it predominantly, perhaps, in a planned systematic manner, may be out of desperation; whereas the other side seems to be trading the usual political insults, which we are so accustomed to during election times. State Minister Harsha de Silva is in hot water for a mud-slinging campaign, which he says started from his office without his knowledge and tweeted that he would not have approved had he known. Many give similar excuses when caught!

Further, it is turning out to be a political comedy of the highest absurdity. Two jokers who were responsible, in great measure, for the downfall of the Rajapaksa’s, are dancing merrily on the Sajith stage! UNPers who castigated them, not so long ago, are enthralled by their words of wisdom and the antics of the comedy duo, Mervyn Silva and Sajin Vaas, confirms that there is always a place for political rejects, however abhorrent they are, in this land like no other!

Having a discussion, often turning to a heated argument in true Sri Lanka fashion, with diehard supporters of the UNP, I have been enlightened greatly about political logic, but must confess, I am guilty of wasting my time because they will never change their choice at the ballot box, come hell or high water: they do not care even if the country is divided surreptitiously or Americans occupy Sri Lanka through A to Z agreements. I have not put the latter to the test with them but, going by the thinking I perceive, can safely guess what they would say: “So what, it is better than being under the Chinese!” Most patriotic citizens, though, are greatly concerned because Sajith, the miracle man, who loudly shouts in the first person about everything, is almost silent on the 13 demands of the Tamil parties that support him, and the MCC, which his sponsor-at-large, Mangala tried to push through the back door!

Talking about MCC, one said “Why are you worried, when Kumar Sangakkara is the president?” I had the onerous task of educating my vociferous nephew of this cricket loving nation, the vast difference between the benevolent Marylebone Cricket Club and the malevolent Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact! He may have learned some facts from me but doubt he changed his views, as even ‘Hela Urumaya’ champions like Ranawaka are there to expound the virtues of the MCC! They used to say ‘Love is blind’ but I am beginning to wonder whether it is politics that is blinding!

Awestruck with the chest-thumping oratory of Sajith, my friends and relations were ready to point out how bad Gota is: “He can hardly talk, he reads out from cards. Therefore, how can we expect him to deliver?” Being so used to loving those who ‘plant sweet potatoes with words’, ‘katin batala hitawanno’, true, Gota is no match to Sajith. Had the presidential election been an oratorical contest, it would have been only Mahinda, perhaps, who could have defeated Sajith; but this is about policies, not decided on the trot, and the ability to deliver. On performance, Sajith is no match to Gota, any with sense would accept, except the diehards. Leaving aside Sajith’s claims of re-dawning of a Premadasa era, which had lethal consequences to many, his only achievement as a minister, is the continuation of his father’s ‘Gam Udawa’ and, of course, keeping silent about the misdeeds of the UNP over Yahapalana era, vainly criticising them now as if he is an opposition candidate! My diehards had a perfectly logical explanation; had he done so, Sajith would not have got the UNP nomination! And to save the country from the evil clutches of Yahapalanaya, I should have added!!

I took pains to explain that Gota is a doer, not a talker. As correctly stated in his acceptance speech, when he was nominated the SLPP candidate, Gota has performed, over and above expectations, whatever task he was assigned to. He is not a career politician and, if he receives a public mandate in a few days’ time, would be the first ‘non-politician’ leader of the country. He retired from the army as a lieutenant colonel and received awards for gallantry from Presidents Jayewardene, Premadasa and Wijetunga. Mahinda appointed him the Defence Secretary with the brief, which was deemed impossible by experts, of eradicating the LTTE. He oversaw achieving this impossible with meticulous planning and coordination, of course, with political support from his big brother, as well as the support of commanders of all the three forces. As the Secretary of Urban Development, he was instrumental in many urban improvement projects, the most important being the beautification of the City of Colombo; one of the reasons for the tourist boom that occurred, after eradicating terrorism.

When I questioned my diehards whether they wanted a talker or a doer, as expected, their response was to direct attention to all the allegations against Gota. I had to point out that all these are allegations and Yahapalanaya, in spite of all its’ efforts, has not been able to prove a single. Much is made of Lasantha Wickramatunga murder, but they conveniently forget that the UNP repeatedly blamed FM Fonseka and he had never said that he did it on the orders of Gota. They cannot deny it, as it is on record, in the Hansard. As much as there are allegations of corruption by Gota, no less a person than FM Fonseka himself alleged that Sajith misused Cultural Trust funds!

Sajith’s policy pronouncements were highly criticised by FM Fonseka who, during Derana 360 programme on 2nd September, gave a detailed analysis of why they were unworkable. Since then Sajith has added a multitude of promises, some decided on the spur of the moment like giving ‘pilgrimage warrants’ to all senior citizens, at the request of one who attended his election rally! One firm policy decision is the appointment of one cabinet minister, the lure of which has induced amnesia in FM Fonseka, to be one of his greatest supporters. They cited this as living proof of how effective Sajith could be! Even the Almighty would have found it impossible to counter this logic: so, I had to give up, rather realised the futility of wasting my breath!

I was one, once, but do hope these diehard UNPers are a fast disappearing minority!

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