By Shyamon Jayasinghe –
“Good governance demands unity in the line of command. For the current government, a creature of the 19th Amendment, the primary prerequisite for a flow of unity in command is a cooperation between President and Prime Minister.”
President Maitripala Sirisena has lost time in a hopeless and self-destructive flirtation with the set of wolves who were his erstwhile companions. What made him take that disastrous U-Turn? The astrologer would tell him,”bad time.” I would say, it was a disastrous experiment influenced by foul advisers around him. This has cost him immensely, disturbed him, and confused him immeasurably. What is worse, the country has suffered badly with a weakened government that resulted from the split. The Easter attack can partly be attributed to the split in governance capability. The president didn’t talk to the Prime Minister. Imagine!
The ‘Maitri Yugaya,’ started off well and the new yahapalnaya government that had a whole lot of revolutionary changes promised, was surely on track. Many useful changes were done and the people were free. Then, this happened!
The president had enough Ranil-haters around him to do the damage. The latter first planted in him the germs of an unrealistic dream. You can extend your term, Sir! You can seek nomination, again, Sir! Maitri-the man with the radiant smile on his countenance – mind-poisoned, got pesky and nasty. From that point on, it had been hate. The rogues he imported from the former government as ministers could have added only fuel to a toxic internal fire. These charlatans were, in fact planted by Mahinda Rajapaksa-Basil enclave with the mission of turning Sirisena around onto their camp. This had been strategy. Serious charges and cases had been framed against the top notchers of the former regime. These cases can be impeded, given Sirisena is with them. The plot was on.
The U-turn resulted, and a chain of events followed-one causing the other.
Voting the PM Out
Sirisena tried to vote the Prime Minister out-twice. He had been promised the required number of votes. Dead promise! That flopped, but his advisers gave him the resilience to continue the blast of his own government. Considerations of gratitude could not sway a mind blinded by hate. The UNP did all the hard work to sponsor him-down to the grassroots men who did the posters on walls and the canvassing etc. These various local-level workers couldn’t believe their eyes.
Local Government Elections
From there, Maitripala Sirisena went on to the local government elections. His advisers and the wolves in Opposition brought him crowds. He was misled into believing he was winning. He blasted Ranil and the UNP government, promising to use his sword against the latter, soon. But the UNP had already been established for too long. It had a party leader who was too clever and emotionally calm for that. The result of this misdirection was that President’s side lost so badly and the UNP, too, suffered collateral damage to Mahinda Rajapaksa’s forces amidst an electorate that was fed up with the quarrel. However, the UNP votes still remained within respectable territory.
Second No-Confidence Motion
Then, came the next motion of no-confidence. Mahinda Rajapaksa openly admitted that he had acted on Maitripala’s nagging. The fact was that his men, now in the fold of Sirisena’s cabinet, had misled the president, once again. The required votes to send the Prime Minister and government back had been promised by Basil Rajapaksa. The result: zero, once again. Ranil prevailed.
What must be noted in all these gyrations was that Ranil Wckremesinghe remained silent.
He never counter attacked the president. In fact that has been Ranil’s character all through his forty years in politics. He has never been observed casting mud at his opponents. Rani’s politics is advanced and different. To this date Ranil Wickremesinghe has never been seen casting personal attacks and uttering falsities against his opponents. I remember the young and promising MP Hirunika Premachandra saying over television that Ranil would be welcomed by any Western electorate for his decency and civility. She expressed doubts about Sri Lankans appreciating that.
Soon after the failed no-confidence motions Basil was interviewed over TV where he stated, “there are still other ways of getting rid of the PM and government.” I watched that program.
“The other way,” was soon known to the public when president Sirisena, in a hilarious act that was also a total violation of the constitution, suddenly “dissolved” parliament and replaced Ranil Wickremesinghe with Mahinda Rajapaksa as fake PM. One cannot understand why Mahinda Rajapaksa – a seasoned politician – would have ever acquiesced in this dastardly and foolish adventure. Basil had convinced him that he could get enough parliamentary numbers to endorse Mahinda and the new government after the act of fiat accompli and thereby to regularise what was first irregular.
The fake set up lasted just 52 days. in the meantime, damage was done to the nation that was aghast. Once again, Ranil Wickremesinghe prevailed. Once again, Ranil never hit back verbally or absurdly. He kept his cool. He parked himself at Temple Trees; contacted world leaders (with whom he has clout) over the telephone and also got parliament to assert its supremacy. With the aid of a most suave, cultured and dutiful Mr Speaker parliament showed successive support to Ranil and and his government.
The plotters had to fold up.
Conclusion: Sirisena, Get Back
Does it require an extraordinary insight for president Sirisena to realize that-even at this late stage- he should get back to his government and its leader? That he is being led by the wolves on a path of self-destruction?
Good governance demands unity in the line of command. For the current government, a creature of the 19th Amendment, the primary prerequisite for a flow of unity in command is the cooperation of President and Prime Minister. It is obvious the Prime Minister has never been abrasive during the separation. Instead, he has blocked any of his party men from criticising the president. He has kept the doors open for reconciliation
The ball is, therefore, in Maitripla Sirisena’s court. President Sirisena’s goal should be to honour the mandate his government had asked for and received, to ensure national security is intact, to assist in the progress of the yahapalanaya program without impediment and, thereafter, to retire in dignity at the legitimate expiry of his term.