Mahinda is a good organizer. Also, he has strong public relations. He is a leader with a big public attraction. If not, he would not have become the executive president to rule the country for nearly a decade. How does he make survival in politics today? He does politics in collaboration with a gang of jokers, thieves and deal strikers. They await a give-and-take opportunity to join the government in order to cover up the court cases against them. The only result will be that he will be distanced from the public.
A country needs a strong opposition to maintain democracy. But, Sri Lanka is without a strong opposition today. The TNA, the nominal opposition, is not active as the opposition of the entire country. Their politics is centralized, based on regional demands. The main opposition should serve as a shadow cabinet and should have the ability to take over if the regime collapses. It is impossible in our country.
In our politics, the opposition means a group that opposes everything, or a commodity that can be bought.
Where did Mahinda go wrong? He may believe it to be a matter of astrology. But, the real reason was that he did not have a strong opposition, or to say more reasonably, he had destroyed the opposition. What he did was to strike deals and pocket members of the opposition. Thereafter, he went on in his journey, believing that everything he did was correct. There was no opposition to point out his mistakes. His journey ended without ever knowing what hit him.
In regional politics too, India does not appear to have a strong opposition. Rahul Gandhi is a weak leader. The Supreme Court has taken over the role of the opposition in Pakistan. Those are not good signs for democracy.
We may like it or do not like it, but it is incumbent upon the Mahinda-led forces to play the role of the opposition. That is the bitter truth. Therefore, what he has to do now is to send the jokers, thieves and deal strikers around him on leave and form a real opposition. G.L. Peiris, Dullas Alahapperuma, Vasudeva Nanayakkara and Vidura Wickremanayake have never been branded thieves or racists. But, those closest to him are thieves and racists. Without getting rid of them, he cannot form a real opposition.
Also, there are talented professionals he can depend on, such as senior doctor Anula Wijesundara, senior professor Carlo Fonseka, doctors and administrative officers. He may not be able to give leadership to convince them that patriotism is not racism, but Mahinda should not let them be overcome by racists.
Excepting a handful of racists close to him, no one close to Mahinda believes that Sri Lanka can have a ‘Sinhala only’ politics. Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-cultural country. No political journey is possible without accepting that. If Mahinda still has any reservations about that, he can recall the result of the last presidential election.
What he should do now is to form a strong opposition. That is not either easy or difficult task. If he does so, it will be good for his personal political targets as well as for the country’s future.
This entire narration is applicable to president Maithripala Sirisena and prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as well. If they think of following what Mahinda once did by pocketing members of the opposition, their political journey will be a short-lived one. That is a lesson they should learn from what Mahinda has undergone.