Gomin Dayasiri (Daily Mirror)
Politics is for the selfish How the UNP looks at elections or undone by moles from within
Obviously, the UNP is now the lesser of the major parties. Rule of best evidence establishes it conclusively: After 25 years in the Opposition, the UNP had to search for candidates [Fonseka and Sirisena] outside the Sirikotha membership.
Toppled the Rajapaksa regime in 2015 with a candidate from the SLFP flying a neutral flag of good governance. Looks, seemingly, feeble at electoral level. Previously deemed invincible.
Expanding middle classes took the UNP over the line by a whisker in the south. Needed the North and East to consolidate the gain. Now is pay back time on behalf of the northern voters.
Bulk vote that came from the South to the UNP need safeguards, as the northern vote is not domesticated but often guided by the TNA.
UNP is ebbing the southern vote furiously fast in three fold- (i) Lack of good governance, (ii) Economic meltdown with burdens transferred to the poor and (iii) With acceleration of the proposed Constitutional Amendments. Last is an emotional issue that caused UNP to lose many an election but still persisted by Wickremesinghe.
Don’t rule the UNP out of reckoning in 2020: Can show its inherent strength by presenting their candidate for the Presidential Election [Preferably a technocrat] to unravel an authentic UNP government with an agenda sent haywire by the SLFP moles presently sitting pretty on the fence as cabinet ministers.
Provided it is an agenda pleasing to the majority of the electorate as the UNP saw to it in the past. Blame the SLFP elements for insider dealings and throw them out with the bath and the soap water. Long it awaits – longer SLFP will bore holes. UNP holds a harmful majority: SLFP are skilled at drilling a UNP government: It superficially supports. I65 votes that were cast in favour of the budget, is a deliberately designed device to lull the government. Moles are at work, overtime.
If the Opposition brings forth an inexperienced new face should the UNP look at an experienced old hand to lead or search for a new faced to match the opponent? Remember it is the fourth positive campaign that Ranil Wickremesinghe moots for a candidate for Presidency (Forfeited candidature twice on free will) yet his clean image was never sullied until the Central Bank bond issue. Ranil has made many sacrifices and sure will make another in the interest of the UNP if it becomes imperative.
Sticking to the six -committee report is to grant a walk over to the Opposition. An election gifted on a platter to an eagerly awaiting opponent wanting to father the six – committee report on a Ranil Wickremesinghe led UNP administration.
The government will come a cropper if the opposition combines: Which the six-committee report would make do in style and comfort.
Combinations and permutations come as a necessity for general elections. The UNP is a party with a proud history consisting of formidable patriotic fronts from the days of the Senanayakes, Jayasuriyas, Kannangaras, Wijetungas and Premadasas: Mans the UNP’s last line of defence from the village gentry to the refined of Colombo.
The six -committee analyses represent the ‘mod’ version of the UNP’s new wave of thinking, inspired by the West and the North. Out of touch with youth that saw terrorism in the raw with their eyes opened.
This message does not appeal to President Sirisena with his ‘true blue’ tendencies of nationalistic trends, bending towards the Senanayakes than to Wickremesinghe. This will close gates early, as many UNP supporters may feel inclined to stay at home on voting day and a lesser number may vote against the party. Impact will be most felt with the floating middle class votes –that absorbed the elements JHU snatched from hard core UNP votes, when saffron robes contested elections in 2005 for the JHU wisely leaving Ranawaka and Gammanpila in the cold.
It was later that the white plain-clothes men in the JHU overtook the saffron robes by a master – stroke. That is another story for another day.
Is the UNP candidate for Presidency for twenty – twenty recognizable three years before the event? Need he be in the field or is Ranil Wickremesinghe deemed the best candidate for Presidency?
Mind you, Ranil Wickremesinghe disqualified himself voluntarily at the last two outings and lost the previous. The answer does not [should not] require an immediate response, as there are three long years to wait. The answer is simple and straight forward
(a) Has the Prime Minister enhanced his image whilst in power? If so, Ranil is the obvious candidate – if not, PM is in trouble
(b) Likely opponent from the Opposition – is a new or tired face? Matter for reckoning in selecting the UNP candidate.
Disqualified is Mahinda Rajapaksa after two terms in office.
Yet, looms large in the selection process of an opposition candidate: Lusting for the Prime Minister’s post due to his popularity with the poor that does not give a damn for corruption – cooperative society voters are the iconic example– no longer a sprawling majority in the electorates, in the midst of a growing middle class in a middle income society that reflects truly the mood of the constituencies.
Rajapaksa name if attached to a popular first name carries much tinsel and glitter with the sleeveless society as do MR and Gota.
Undoubtedly the unannounced candidate is Gotabaya Rajapaksa, in his maiden run for office.
Need the UNP produce a new face to give Gota a run, short of winning the election, which is long due in coming? Gota’s sore point is the minority vote and the North will never pardon him for overcoming terrorism.
Yet, they voted overwhelmingly for Field Marshal Fonseka. Prejudice comes before pride.
Incumbent Sirisena has another term left open. Don’t discount him – in the re-run; Firstly, has to decide, whether the UNP or the SLFP has more trust and confidence in him and secondly, who the likely winner is of the contest.
SLPP is not his friend with MR in the forefront. Sirisena has to enter as the SLFP candidate with the UNP backing for Presidency or premiership, until a favourable new face emerges.
Sirisena is the strongest candidate away from the UNP with a right to represent it. It is a third time straight for the UNP in failing to contest in the absence of a formidable candidate for the post of president? There is a lacuna in training or grooming a candidate for Presidency.
Sirisena and Gota may prefer to run on the old formula of the SLFP, switching places, with a title of honour in the party conferred on MR: Will displease him, touching 75 years in 2020. Sirisena will need to discard his mentor and Gota will need to reduce his deity to a mortal. Basil will be in the hands of his lawyers. Altogether now: say ‘ta ta’ to the SLPP, while the learned professor, shifts gear to lead the drumming for Gota.
Sirisena has the knack of emerging elegantly out of troubled waters.
May step in to sweeten the water on the six-committee report and inveigle in setting up a combined SLFP of both factions and handing the reins to ‘Gota’ Rajapaksa to run for Presidency, reserving premiership for him or vice versa.
Don’t forget Presidential powers, though clipped are still over powering. Fortunately for Sirisena, MR’s popularity has not peaked: More in the wane with the emergence of Gota from the outside lane.
Sure, the North will turn against Gota in numbers but after the engineered ‘six–committee’ report, it might be a blessing in disguise. The Eastern vote will depend much on the current mercantile and agricultural economy.
Gota’s knowledge in politics is abysmal and is trained by the inexperienced whose credentials need careful scrutiny.
That combination does not rhyme well and could blow up if it turns into a close election with the blind leading the blind. We are so much in the dark and needs a white cane to take the next step?
The focal point in the coming election is whether Sirisena will contest with the UNP or will he oppose the UNP and swing with the SLFP by toeing Gota’s candidature? The route he chooses is the winner’s path provided MR does not foul the SLFP. Politics is for the selfish.