Ranil’s dilemma – Carrying orders of West/LTTE or saving UNP electorally
Never before has Ranil’s political acumen been put to the wire. For 22 plus years he has managed to bluff his way riding on the West’s media campaign strategists that have backed him throughout & projected him as a Mr. Visionary, a façade easily sold to a gullible green vote base. This has enabled him to weather close to 30 election losses and yet remain UNP leader since 1994 happily dishing out vision statements & promising restructuring of the UNP. Thus, UNPers have been suffering the balagiri doshaya (not today tomorrow) syndrome since 1994. It has come to a point where many are now questioning whether the UNP seriously has any alternative leaders that they continue to hero-worship just one man since 1994. UNP voters love to question why other leaders do not retire after an election defeat but think that question is not applicable to the UNP leader, nevertheless a large number is now waking up.
Ranil Wickremasinghe may by another yankee poodle but he is also well tuned into ground realities though he is clueless & care’s less about the needs or demands of people at grass root levels (even those in his own party). But he is concerned that UNP does not end up a dead party like the JVP.
It is baffling that at provincial and district levels UNP has managed to maintain its vote base in rural Sri Lanka though statistics show these numbers are slowly declining. UNP has generally been a class-based party. Many of its traditional supporters have been supporters from generation to generation while others have presumed that being a UNPer placed them in an upper class pedestal with the notion that they aligned to liberal & westernized thinking & habits.
Many of these did not stop to think how much these notions would impede on the cultural & historical heritage of Sri Lanka, while for many others history & heritage were not important. This helped UNP leadership & their campaign strategists to present a notion that winning the international community was far more important & Sri Lanka stood to gain than preserving and protecting the national heritage. Little did they realize that every nook & corner that we were to gain the so-called International Community support meant compromising the national security, territorial integrity & sovereignty of Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, many of these die-hard supporters are clueless of the damage the West has done since colonial times carried forward to the neo-liberal & neo-colonial policies pushed through local poodles.
A hallmark of UNP rule has been its ability to woo the minorities both Tamil & Muslim inspite of the hard facts that point to UNP following western colonial divide & rule strategies. It is baffling how inspite of UNP burning the Jaffna library being instrumental in July 1983 riots, causing ethnic tensions through various false flag operations, killing anti-LTTE informants most of whom have been Tamils or Malays (Millennium City) the majority of the minorities have remained loyal to UNP & without batting an eyelid gone & voted for the UNP completely ignoring or being bothered about the policy blunders its leadership have made to the detriment of the country’s welfare.
Ranil’s association with Right-Wing Christian think tanks like International Democratic Union & secret societies like Mont Perelin Society have not helped his at home image either.
Nevertheless they say you can fool some people all of the time but not all of the people all of the time and the manner that a well-planned regime change finally succeeded to place Ranil in power was to the advantage of those who funded & operated the regime change but not to those who actually went out & voted, they are now beginning to open their eyes to the realities that they did not get an uncorrupt rule – their cost of living did not reduce – the transparency that Ranil promised did not happen – that justice that was preached is looking ridiculous when none of UNP illegalities are even getting their day in court with rising number of people now questioning even the judges & magistrates rulings.
You can have the entire international community singing hosannas and issuing statements even going so far as to statistically doctor surveys to project Ranil is popular and the king of democracy but all that cannot feed mouths, all that cannot hide that the rupee against the dollar which was Rs.131 in Rajapakse time is now Rs.163 and one by one the lies that were drummed to bring the regime change is now being digested with anger by the people. Of course this does not include the ultra-rich inner circle of UNP elite who have landed themselves big deals & commissions & who’s extended families will continue to fund the efforts to maintain Ranil in power.
But then is there really an alternative. Some say there is Sajith, but other than becoming a voice headache where is the substance or vision that he has articulated to match the drafts prepared by the western supporters of Ranil? Some say Karu – but with Ranil claiming to hand over leadership in 2030, we wonder whether Karu would be around! There is another figure looming – Karu’s son-in-law Navin, but he has shown nothing of substance that could woo the island voters, then there is Ruwan who looks to be the better bet … but with the possibility of 2030 become 2050 even … all these aspirants can only bite their nails waiting!
It is without a doubt that Sri Lanka needs a powerful mainstream party and everyone agrees that the manner that the UNP is being led is unlikely to result in the bloc vote that it has commanded over the years. A party must stand for a powerful slogan & be country-centric in its objectives & vision, no one wants a party that comes to power to facilitate the objectives of foreign agendas and no party can sustain its existence if it lacks cultural values that are engraved in the country’s history.
D S Senanayake the first Prime Minister afterall was a proud Buddhist & worshipped his mother before leaving home as was a Buddhist custom. D S also donated most of his ancestral lands to the Buddha Sasana. When his son Dudley was born 25 acres of land was immediately donated to the Botale temple. Likewise immediately after becoming the PM of Ceylon the first thing he did was to visit the Polwatte temple in Kolpetty & worship the Buddha. DS was also clear that Buddhism had to be given the foremost place & that it was the duty of the state to protect & foster the Buddha Sasana while assuring the freedom to practice other faiths.
All these clearly defined policies were changed after JR and Ranil took over power of the UNP. JRJ held power over UNP for 11 years while Ranil remains leader for 22 years and counting. Of the 72 years of the UNP, JR & Ranil has held forte for 33 years and it is the later part of this rule that has reduced the stature of the UNP.
With the reign of JRJ marked the burning of the Jaffna library, the July 1983 riots, the closure of military bases in the North set up by Mrs. Bandaranaike to address illegal immigrants from India, the political system became manipulated to create an all-powerful executive presidency, elections were marred by voter intimidation, vote rigging, ballot box stuffing & even impersonations which continued under Premadasa rule, the underworld emerged with nefarious characters given arms & functioning as body guards of the politicians, mob rule meant political victimization & attacks against political opponents. Neoliberals entered and Sri Lankan citizens were turned into laborers with women sent to the middle east as domestics or working in garment factories under poor working conditions. Then came nephew after a series of assassinations of UNP leaders left only one left to take over. With West’s connections to LTTE & open support to the UNP present leader, an unanswered question is whether there is a link to why his life was never at risk of LTTE gun.
Ranil has weathered many a storm – Batalanda torture chambers, preference to his school mates, LH plantation, name linked to Gamini Dissanayake’s death, 2002 CFA agreement, Millennium City exposure, to the co-sponsoring of a legally questionable UNHRC Resolution that accepts the national army committed war crimes, agrees to a tribunal and agrees to draft a new constitution.
Never has PM Ranil thought of asking why the UN or foreign envoys should insist on a new constitution and such a demand is a direct interference into the internal affairs of a sovereign state. Moreover, many have clearly presented valid points to the illegalities of the UNHRC resolutions, the bias of the UN, the violations of its own charter & the influence that LTTE bloody money is making with the manner they have been able to buy over even foreign parliamentarians, UN officials & even renowned lawyers who are working for the LTTE on retainer fees.
Many in the UNP who are privy to these valid arguments are themselves asking what the UNP leader is doing by agreeing to divide a small island into asymmetrical federal units to the whining of a Northern Chief Minister whose racism has been quite disgusting and who represents a party that is still uninvestigated for LTTE links.
These are questions that the UNP electorates are now beginning to ask as even the Maha Sangha has clearly and explicitly voiced their concerns against a new constitution or even any amendments. These will definitely impact on the UNP voter and even the minorities many of whom are also waking up to ground realities.
The Tamils have voted UNP but they have never trusted Ranil – at least Prabakaran did not. This is possibly one reason why he decided to ensure Ranil lost the election in 2005. With West’s links to LTTE, Prabakaran would have realized that his powers would be clipped or controlled by the West, something he was not prepared to allow and a factor that played a role in going against the Indians too. As for the Muslims, though a majority of them remain loyal to the UNP with the economic situation bleak and because they are most affected it is unlikely that they will vote UNP when they would consider their purse & pockets more valuable than keeping Ranil in power. In short, minorities have not been provided anything though the leaders of these minorities are enjoying more than they should & not sharing with their own people. The outcome of that can be seen at the next election, if we are lucky to have one.
Ranil has much to ponder about. Will he go gun-ho with the demands of the West & LTTE in pushing the 20a, passing a new constitution & then knowing the outcome take the next plane out of the island never to return or will he stall the process because he knows that he will forever be cursed for the damage he would singlehandedly be responsible for if Sri Lanka is divided & in no time the North & East declares an independent state an outcome that has been openly prophesized which the citizens are well aware of.
Whatever dilemma Ranil suffers, he & his party are putting the entire country at great risk.
Shenali D Waduge