Battle of the Unpopular (MR, RW and MS)

RANIL MAHINDA SIRISENA Are they all the same?

Gomin Dayasiri (Daily Mirror)

Aged old boys – Ranil and Mahinda need each other to keep both politically afloat. If one is to win, is it due to the unpopularity of the other? Votes come less from the dwindling party cadres: others think twice before they vote?

Sirisena needs to ride on the unpopularity of the other two for survival – being a nowhere kid, without the support of the Rajapaksas’ or the UNP, is unlikely to reach anywhere except home sweet home. Is this a battle of the unpopular – leaving no options or alternatives to voters? Yet, Sirisena has done (at times) useful tit-bits negating rash Ranil, whereas the other two have done sweet nothing worthwhile after the last election. People appreciate Mahinda’s services in eliminating terrorism, but that is history. Alive is his post 2009 conduct with terrorism unlikely to resurface virulently. Ranil ran high on integrity till the Central Bank bond scam equated him to the level of other politicians.

If Ranil and Sirisena join hands at the next elections to defeat the common enemy: yet the SLFP party cadres and their ‘non-thinking’ voters will not vote again for a combine operating with their dreaded opponent Ranil; SLFPs’ ‘thinking’ voters, may have sided with Sirisena for his patriotic instincts, will desert him in hordes describing Sirisena as an opportunist: leaving him with his miniature depleted vote bank from the North Central Province. In a nutshell, he is Mr. Unreliable in SLFP politics.

Mahinda Rajapaksa will be the beneficiary of the ‘senior floating voters’ only lose it on the roundabout of two generations of under 18-year-olds [Mahinda came to national politics in 1970 together with Ranil 47 years ago] have lost faith with his alleged acts of corruption and non-governance. Most of those under the 45 generation are unlikely to vote for him again. They are becoming a formidable silent majority.

Changing to a younger leadership is the need of the hour. May find such, beneath the third tier of a political party (first two being secured by the over 60 club of politicians with a handful from the over 70 years’ group still kicking alive in their dead politics or their progeny/relatives). It is preferable to seek a candidate from political parties, out of its lists of better candidates, from the now generation.

Whichever party rids Wickremesinghes’ and Rajapaksas’ first, will have an advantage in being the desired trendsetter and the late jettisoning opponents will earn the dubious title of being copycats. If one goes out, the other will have to follow suit. Any credible name that holds respect can eclipse Wickremesinghe or Rajapaksa from an electorate that cries silently for a change, from (a) country permanently on an economic meltdown. Neither is widely-respected anymore with their warts visible.

We make ourselves vulnerable allowing the decrepit ruling juntas around the trio to rule us till death takes us apart. Blame the voters more, given the opportunity they will vote for one of the three of the named candidates, due to party affiliations, to jostle the others out of reckoning. Vicious circle ends often at square one.

Intelligentsia will not parade the streets on May Day – that will not aggregate to voters of a single populace electorate in the Colombo District though described as ‘tens of thousands.’ Leadership should salute their paid hirelings on display, provided transport, food and cash is on offer.

Instead, why do the literate voters not join hands: appeal to the political parties they vote for, to make way for new leaderships away from the kith and kin / friends and sycophants of their establishments. They must be booted out together as an endeavour will be made to stall such an outbreak, as ouster becomes virtually impossible closer to Election Day; for which we have a period between two and a half years to three years ahead. It is a ‘Now or Never’ situation and don’t say you were not warned previously. New leadership needs time to settle down to rewind politics.

Economy was, but no more is, an oracle of renown to predict election results – since both the recent governments are held responsible for the present economic malady. Reason: first-time voters no more cast their votes on the basis of old family heretical ties to a political party, make their votes more volatile. Middle-aged floating voters in recent polls have crisscrossed party lines and voted for different political parties at varying elections. Senior citizens are unlikely to vote contrary to their traditional upbringing but may decline to visit the polling booth on the day of balloting. A protest vote of 6 % in addition to the regular reject vote can make a significant difference to the end result.

Political parties are on shopping expeditions to catch the emerging voters. Instead voters are hostile to the presently governing parties though the sound of the jingle of coins emerges stronger from the hip pockets, the anti establishment votes against governments past and present are becoming louder. It includes a leadership once rejected that is unlikely to get another life, as the mature know, economics is not a matter of concern to politicians of today, as they live in comfort, but it was not so till the free economy in 1978 was introduced.

Dudley Senanayake resigned as Prime Minister for increasing the price of rice by a few cents and cutting the free meal offered to schoolchildren that led to a General Strike. Difference will be visible when the Presidential Commission reveals the secrets of the Bond Scam and the resulting ‘no action’ being taken to arrest a situation in the scam of scams. What credible action did the government take till Sirisena appointed an impartial and credible commission for inquiry? Where was the opposition in the midst of these events?

Credit goes to a few journalists, few independent commentators and their proprietors in the media. Let’s call it a victory for democracy. Hopefully, justice will prevail if the Commission acts effectively and objectively.

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