Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has intervened to bring sense to the debate created by the recent speech of the President. One Maha Nayaka Thero has said it is very sensible the way PM advised his followers; the best possible response under the circumstances. Apparently he had told the party’s ‘ministers and MPs should not respond to the President but should resolve the problems faced by the people.’
As a liberal he is governed by empirical and pragmatic vision. One analyst said “That’s the wisdom of a man who understands the gravity of the situation faced by the Government and by his party. It is an acknowledgment of failure; he’s essentially saying ‘we haven’t solved the problems of the party and exchanging barbs with the President is not going to boost our chances at the next election.”
The problem is that Yahapalanaya has not satisfied the expectation of the people who put them to power. For that neither President nor PM can pass the buck to the other. In all this Ranil has more to loose than Maithree.
Sinhala only agitation
Actually President Maithripala Sirisena made a fine speech; it was a surprise to many though it is not. I would say it is well prepared and it is well grinded populist speech. Sarcasm created is well in the tradition of MAHA Bandaranayke. SWRD also made such speeches suitable to the occasion. In that period, first he roused the crowd with ardent ‘Sinhala only’ agitation, then truly to balance by defending devolution with sober thinking. That was after Banda- Chelva Pact.
Finally it was a failure; because his rule was discredited by the 57 riots followed then by state repression. There after, with the elapse of some tense period, Maha Bandaranayke was knocked down by a monk who complained about Bandaranayke for his betrayal of ‘Sinhala only’ promises. In his speech made recently Maithree has said that he didn’t know who drafted the ‘100 Days Program’. He, with a pleasant smile hinted that Ranil Wickremesinghe had without his knowledge, asked the Air Force Commander to release helicopters to transport Mahinda Rajapaksa (who had lost the presidential election the previous day) to Hambantota.
In that delivery President also made a stern comment on media responsibility, of course with a knowing humble smile. Again he surprised every body few days later by proclaiming that he would not hesitate to ban social media if there’s no self-regulation.
These statements raise interesting questions. He is in fact claiming that he was a presidential candidate, who participated in all discussions that took place with all Yahapalanaya -common front leaders, has no clue who drafted the key programmatic content of his manifesto. I can remember well, Maithree participating seriously in all discussions that concluded before elections.
Clearly it shows like SWRD, Maithree too wants to play a Bonapartist role by balancing above contending forces. Can this smaller actor compared to either Napoleon or Bismarck achieve more than Maha Bandaranayke, to by pass both Mahinda and Ranil and resolve the Tamil national problem with the principal of equality alone?
With respect to the helicopters, Sirisena himself bragged way back in 2016 that it was he who had arranged it. Does that mean we should forget and forgive this Napoleonic leader for his simple forgetfulness? The truth is that Sirisena had not yet been sworn in as President when the request had been made; it is also true that Mahinda Rajapaksa, through one of his aides, had made the request. A lying President is it? No never think of that.
On the other hand the statement regarding social media is not just a joke. The warning is directed at social media but it demonstrates scant regard for the freedom of expression and a willingness to throw babies along with the bathwater among other things. Of course it does not make him a sinister President, following the example of president Mahinda.
Yahapalanaya political campaign
In the midst of all this, President Sirisena, speaking at same speech commemorating the late Maduluwave Sobitha Thero, said that the Thero had not wanted the Central Bank robbed, a clear reference to the Bond Issue scam and another hint at the complicity of his Yahapalanaya partner, Ranil Wickremesinghe. This is very interesting. When they made accusations against Ranil in the first place, I said that if he has raised a fund by this means it should be for a valid political reason, hence he should be absolve as end justifies the means. Many contested this moral principle. To day it is exposed 118 politicians have been given money for the political campaign of Yahapalanaya against fascistic politics of the combine opposition. Unfortunately the setback of Yahapalanaya in the last local government shows that money has not been used properly, or money did not come in time.
By: Wickramabahu Karunaratne