The good and bad of the son of Philip
My dear Dinesh,
I thought of writing to you when I heard that you had been booted out of Parliament for one week just because you were arguing on behalf of your colleague Wimal sahodaraya, raising your voice when you were not supposed to do so and disobeying the orders of the boss in the House, good old Karu.
To be honest, Dinesh, I was quite surprised that matters had to go this far. Why, the next thing I heard was that on the very next day, the Greens had walked out, protesting that Karu was being too lenient on the ‘ekabadhdha vipakshaya’ and giving them more time to speak than they were entitled to.
I really do not know what to make of your expulsion from Parliament, Dinesh. You must be wearing it like a badge of honour but I am sure some will wonder why you got into this mess — especially when it was all about defending someone like Wimal sahodaraya who can fight his own battles very well.
Those with long memories say that you may have been following in the footsteps of your late great father, Philip. Apparently he too was once expelled from Parliament for not following the orders of the Speaker but surely, this weeks’ events had nothing to do with following family traditions, did it?
I think we can all agree that Philip was a giant of his era who made an enormous contribution to the country. As a minister, he presided over several important pieces of legislation and was quite a force to be reckoned with. That was probably why people still refer to him as the Lion of Boralugoda!
With all due respect to you, Dinesh, I think it is only fair to say that you have not quite reached the dizzy heights your late father attained effortlessly — not yet anyway. Even though the late Indika and Geethanjana made their own contributions, the cubs of Boralugoda don’t quite match up to Philip.
What made your ‘expulsion’ this week all the more regrettable was that you are now one of the most senior members in the House, having entered it almost thirty five years ago. Only a few such as Vasu, Mahinda maama, the Green Man, Sampanthan seeya, Jayawickrema and Long John are more senior.
This cartoon is from Ceylon Today
Since then, you have been in an out of Parliament. We have seen you both in government and in the Opposition benches, becoming a minister in the process too. In the meantime, we have also seen lesser people than you enter Parliament and receive greater prominence, through no fault of your own.
You weren’t given any really important portfolios by both Satellite and Mahinda maama and asked to supervise water supply, even though you served both of them loyally. The most important ministry you were allocated was Transport, probably because the symbol of your party was a cartwheel!
However, we do appreciate the fact that, despite thirty five years in Parliament and after a decade of holding ministerial portfolios, no one has accused you of corruption, ever. Now that is something in which you do match Philip and Kusuma — and something I am sure they would be very proud of.
Pardon me if I am wrong, but for me, we saw you at your best not when you were a minister. Instead, your finest hour was when, in an opposition reduced to eight seats, you took on the might of JR’s government day in and day out in Parliament, with the equally brilliant late Sarath seated next to you.
That Parliament was a far cry from what it is now. Your classmate at Royal, Anura was the Leader of the Opposition and your other classmate, the Green Man was with the Greens along with the likes of Lalith, Gamini and Ronnie. Compared to those days, what we see today is a kindergarten in disarray.
That is why this weeks’ antics in the House and your expulsion are disappointing, Dinesh. We respect your decision to defend your colleague but surely, don’t we all know that Wimal sahodaraya quitting your ‘alliance’ is a publicity stunt — just as much as his ‘fast unto death’ opposite the UN office was?
Your actions may have something to do with the fact that both you and Wimal stand little hope of making it to Parliament on your own steam unless you team up with Mahinda maama’s group but honestly, people respect you for who you are and teaming up with Wimal will only diminish that.
Dinesh, we wish you the best of luck. Nearing the seventh decade of life, time is surely running out, as it is for your leader Mahinda maama. Your best bet is to hope that Mahinda maama gets his old job back and that he will nominate you as his deputy — after all, you are certainly better than Di Moo!
PS- Your late father Philip, the firebrand leftist that he was, ultimately became a minister in Dudley’s Green party government probably because he realised that he could do more for the people by being in government than outside it. Someday, do you think we will be saying, ‘like father, like son’?