UNP Election Stunts & The Aftermath-Isn't It Time to Think?

By Darmitha-Kotte

Politics in Sri Lanka saw many facets during the NCP & Sabaragamuwa Elections held recently. The most unfortunate phenomenon witnessed was the fact that JVP (Amerasinghe Faction) finally showed their true colours when they decided to side with UNP and attack the GOSL and even our Indian neighbours. The results proved we hope to the JVP, that they are no longer the "cock of the walk" and that they are fast losing their grip as well as the backing ( that they always felt) of the ordinary masses when they did a rather ungracious nose-dive. Just like the UNP, the JVP also seem to have forgotten within a very short time since their internal split, who are enemy No. 1 is right now-the LTTE terrorists. Their enemy No.1 happened to be the current GOSL on whom they lashed out strong criticism which proved to be useless indeed.

Today, the ordinary man on the street is far more knowledgeable on where the priorities are? True, there are untold economic miseries and difficulties they face BUT they are willing to hold a bit longer until the Armed Forces eliminate terrorism from this country in order to usher in peace and harmony for all citizens of this country who have suffered for 30 years. However, to the opposition politicians be they UNPers or JVPers, priorities were quite different and proved beyond reasonable doubt that they have isolated themselves from ground realities.

The leader of the UNP and the Opposition has proved with his 16th defeat at local elections that he really does not have the political vision needed to steer the once strong and dynamic UNP into an era of political success. On the other hand, he has also proved that he does not have the humility to realize that his leadership is not what UNP stalwarts want or need for their survival as a political entity in this country. It is too obvious to all of us, that his PR advisors know absolutely nothing about ground realities. It was truly pathetic to hear and see Ranil Wickramasinghe belting out slogans against the GOSL and the Rajapakse family rather than offer the people a political vision to look forward to if the UNP won the NCP and Sabaragamuwa elections. His theme on political platforms was more personal politics rather than national politics.

In order to hold onto the UNP leadership, Ranil Wickramasinghe did everything possible during the last couple of months. The man who moved the Buddha Statue at Sirikotha from the front to the backyard after he came into power in 2001 & nominated a Cabinet of Ministers who were 60% Christian serving a country of 75% Buddhist citizens proved to all what his anti-Buddhist agenda was. Whether he realized his folly or not, a month or two before the recent elections- the elephant fountain at Sirikotha disappeared and a glass casing with a Statue of The Buddha was re-installed facing Sirikotha! On the 8th of July, it was reported that Ranil Wickramasinghe also entertained four exorcists brought from India on the invitation of UNP Treasurer Swaminathan to perform a large scale sacrificial ceremony in the UNP leader's office. According to reports, these exorcists had advised Ranil Wickramasinghe to apply the blood of four chickens in the room and allow it to remain for three days! Another ceremony conducted by the Indian exorcists had been performed at his residence at Cambridge Terrance. Apparently, these activities have provoked the displeasure of UNP party stalwarts. With all this, what was the outcome of the elections- defeat!

The man who called Gotabhaya Rajapakse a "traitor" for having left the country and the army many years ago but returned to Sri Lanka after Mahinda Rajapakse became Executive President, did the very same thing when he invited and brought back Gen. Janaka Perera who had migrated to Australia immediately after his 2 stints as Sri Lankan Ambassador in Australia and Indonesia to use as a scapegoat and bait to pitch against Gotabhaya Rajapakse who was doing a patriotic service to Sri Lanka by coordinating defence activities for the Combined Armed Forces in their attempts to eliminate terrorism from this country! It is reliably learnt through expatriates living in Australia, that Gen.Janaka Perera while still Sri Lankan Ambassador in Australia manipulated his wife to forego her Diplomatic Passport(as wife of the Ambassador she was entitled to hold one) and apply for Migrant Status to the Australian Authorities as an ordinary Sri Lankan Passport Holder. It is learnt that the Australian Government does not entertain any applications for Migrant Status from Diplomats-therefore, this method was used while he himself was holding the post of Sri Lankan Ambassador in Australia! What does one call such manipulations- traitorous or patriotic?
The UNP leader having brought back Gen.Janaka Perera wanted to pit him against the GOSL and Armed Forces who were working systematically towards eliminating LTTE terrorism from the North at the NCP Elections by nominating his as Chief Ministerial Candidate of the UNP. Although Gen. Perera has gone on record during a political meeting as stating " NCP and I are like the bark to a tree" yet, he was not a man from that area even though he served in the area as an Army Officer many years ago. He even went on record as stating that he would win the elections even if he had to use thuggery through the use of batons, poles or weapons! My goodness- is this, what politics in Sri Lanka is about?

The UNP leader again made another mistake when he selected well known actor turned politician Ranjan Ramanayake as the Chief Ministerial Candidate for Sabaragamuwa at the recent elections. It is well known that as an ordinary citizen of this country Ranjan Ramanayake has done a lot for the suffering house-maids in the Middle-East and helped them in no uncertain terms-something that all previous governments should have done but he did it as an individual who visited them in the Middle East to understand their problems. However, it was grossly unfair by him as well as the citizens of Sabaragamuwa, to have nominated him as the Chief Ministerial Candidate given the fact that Ramanayake has absolutely no experience in politics or working within government circles. True Ranjan Ramanayake is a very popular actor-young and energetic but is the cosmetic beauty that matters in local politics or brains to work for the people of an electorate? Again, Ranjan Ramanayake was not a person from Sabaragamuwa and this naturally was not to the liking of UNP supporters in the area. In his youthful fervour to win supporters he goes on record when he stated " I can even take on Bruce Lee!" little realizing that Bruce Lee was not among the living anymore or that acting as "One Shot" on the silver screen does not work miracles in reality as a political candidate on the ground! Had Bruce Lee been among the living( he died already during 1970s-1980s ) it would truly have been a sorry sight to see what would have happened to Ranjan Ramanayake in his presence. This kind of frivolous arrogance without knowing one's limitations does not speak well for the UNP and the results at the elections proved that they hold no grounds even though he got the most number of preferential votes.

"Without bias, join hands to solve the problem of terror and the white van culture" was another statement made by UNP leader Ranil Wickramasinghe at Divulapitiya implicating that "the white van culture" was initiated by government politicians until (even before the elections were held) it was proven that the "white van culture" was initiated by his own personal security officers! Terror and white van culture of intimidation was something that Sri Lankan learnt from the UNP from 1978 onwards thanks to the late JR Jayawardane and the late R.Premadasa and the then Mayor of Colombo Mr. Sirisena Cooray. For 17 long years the rule of terror was very much part and parcel of Sri Lankan life! Although "human rights and free media movement" were also some of his pet topics to belt out from political platforms,human rights went down to "zero levels" thanks to the previous UNP regimes from 1977 -1994! Never before have the citizens of this country faced such traumatic days of living in fear and uncertainty. Too many are the contradictions of statements made by the UNP leader during the recent NCP and Sabaragamuwa Elections that we wonder whether he is really championing the cause of national sovereignty, national interests and national security?

Mr. Ranil Wickramasinghe- it is high time for you to realise after 16 defeats at local elections, that no amount of "chicken blood" or popular actors can save you or the UNP in the political arena of today. Stop employing foreign PR consultants and try to understand the reality at the grassroots and the patriotism that our ordinary masses are proud of before making blunders again. Don't you think it is time for you to step down as leader of the UNP and Opposition and graciously pass the mantle onto another leader who can bring back the much lost prestige of the UNP as a formidable party in Sri Lankan politics.

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