Lightning within the political scene but no
Many questions are now being raised on the new political
alliance envisaged by former Minister Mangala Samaraweera to
sustain his political viability in the Sri Lankan political
The first question so asked is as to whether UNP leader Ranil
Wickremesinghe could work with Samaraweera. Samaraweera being
one of the most bitter political enemies of the UNP leader some
UNP insiders entertain doubts about an alliance between the two.
But others say this is quite possible citing the example of UNP
National Organiser S.B.Dissanayake.
S.B, as he is known among the political circles, was also an
arch political rival of Wickremesinghe. S.B finally fell in line
with the Wickremesinghe thinking, after he fell out with
President Chandrika Kumaratunga.
He led a team along with Professor G.L.Peiris and others to push
the Kumaratunga government in to the opposition in the year
2001, while accepting the leadership of Ranil Wickremesinghe in
the newly formed United National Front (UNF).
Wickremesinghe sorted out all his differences with SB. The two
joined hands in a common front to defeat Kumaratunga’s SLFP in
the Parliamentary General Elections that followed.
Wickremesinghe knew where to draw the line with SB. He did not
bother too much when SB was jailed by the Supreme Court on a
matter of contempt of court over some utterance made by him (SB)
at a function held in Habaraduwa.
This incident in question took place after the UNP was ousted by
the SLFP-JVP alliance which was masterminded by Mangala
Samaraweera the erstwhile lieutenant of then President Chandrika
Kumaratunga in 2004, approximately two years after the UNP was
elected to power.
It is a consolation for Ranil Wickremesinghe that Mangala
Samaraweera, one of his most virulent critics, has now come
round and is trying to mend fences with the UNP to secure his
political future. It is similar in kind to the S.B. Dissanayake
political exercise as far as Wickremesinghe is concerned.
Dissanayake politically manoeuvred and manipulated many an
election in favour of Chandrika Kumaratunga in the past and used
all his mental faculties in the exercise.
In short Wickremesinghe has achieved something politically over
the years though he failed to reach the higher echelons of
At least his silence in Parliament, when his critics were at his
throat, paid him dividends. Three of them in numbers including
Sripathi Samaraweera fell onto his lap and virtually all of them
are at his disposal.
Some political analysts want to play down the present scenario
by saying that this was only a re-enactment of a common
historical event and cite the case of Late Philip Gunawardene
and many others as examples.
Philip Gunawardene a Trotskyite and a political giant of the
day, and who was branded as an arch political enemy of Dudley
Senanayake, joined hands with the latter finally to form a
government under the Premiership of Senanayake.
However, for Ranil Wickremesinghe, whether it is Mangala or
anybody else, it is a political opportunity knocking at his
door. Mangala Samaraweera’s departure from the government ranks
had made a dent in the Rajapaksa administration and it is for
the advantage of Ranil Wickremesinghe
Wickremesinghe met with Samaraweera and Sripathi Sooriyarachchi
at the former’s Cambridge Terrace office. At this meeting the
expression on Wickremesinghe’s face suggested that he was
thinking of political expediency and to rise for the occasion.
The question is whether the time is right?
The ever escalating cost of living and the unsettled political
conditions have already put the government in a very difficult
situation. Some think the economic depth the government has
fallen into is beyond redemption.
In urban areas the government’s popularity had taken a nose dive
while in rural areas too it is diminishing gradually mainly
because of the sky rocketing prices of essential commodities.
The on going military offensive in the North and the East is the
main factor besides other contributing factors such as price
fluctuations in the world market and the depreciating value of
the Rupee that has brought the country down the economic
However, the rural masses still believe that the government is
trying to do a good job as far as the war is concerned. They
find it hard to fathom the story about President Mahinda
Rajapaksa having had a deal with the LTTE just prior to the
Presidential elections. This is because government troops are
engaging the LTTE and inflicting heavy losses on them in the
As the insiders see it, the slogan used by the UNP against the
government “Dooshsanaya Beeshanaya and Rajapaksa Poshanaya”
(Corruption, terror and nourishment for Rajapaksas) goes down
well with the city folk but not with the rural masses as
expected by the UNP.
The reason being , there is hardly any fear instilled in the
minds of the people in rural areas unlike the days during which
both the JVP and the government committed atrocities against the
rural masses in the late eighties.
In addition to a cycle of violence unleashed by the JVP there
were state sponsored human rights violations in 1987 and 1988
which brought the whole country to a complete standstill.
But of course there have been instances where dead bodies were
found in isolated places in rural areas which is reminiscent of
the 1987 period of terror that may lead to a sudden change of
the psyche of the rural masses. A situation like this would make
things far worse for the Rajapaksa administration
Presently the abductions, extortions and terrorising anti
government activists are only confined to the city and immediate
suburbs where the anti government feelings are running high and
gathering momentum. Besides the city the terror campaign
unleashed by the LTTE and the state continue unabated in the
North and the East where there is heightened LTTE activity. The
LTTE is unleashing terror causing economic mayhem while the
government is responding in kind.
In this back drop there are doubts as to whether Mangala
Samaraweera’s “DARE TO DREAM” document would have the desired
impact. It has already been handed over to the UNP leader who
would go through it thoroughly and make his own observations.
But it wound be rather difficult for the UNP to agree for the
abolition of the Executive Presidency or drastic reduction of
the powers of the Executive Presidency and to do away with the
Proportionate representation system (PR system) for
Parliamentary general elections.
The only point where the UNP could agree with the SLFP (Mahajana
Wing) is to topple the present regime at a forced Parliamentary
General elections and thereafter clip the wings of the Executive
President by pruning down his vote in Parliament.
This could only happen if the UNP and the SLFP (M) could muster
sufficient support from the other minority parties and the
disillusioned SLFPers within the government.
Though Mangala Samaraweera and others claim that there are more
to join his struggle to restore democracy within the SLFP, it
remains a cry in the wilderness.
Will it be possible for Mangala Samaraweera and Sripathi
Sooriyarachchi to keep this issue alive for a longer period and
sustain it until they achieve desired results, is the million
dollar question in this exercise. If there is a way out for
Mangala and Sripathi that is only through the strength of the
UNP and by forging closer to it and forming an alliance.
The invite extended by the JVP to join hands with them in their
struggle to create a better society and a better country is a
far fetched dream for Mangala Samaraweera and Sripathi
Sooriyarachchi who are seeking a short cut to gain power. Their
ultimate place of refuge is the UNP. This could bring victory to
Wickremesinghe despite a few hiccups in his party over the
At the meeting held last week between UNP leader Ranil
Wickremesinghe and SLFP (M) leaders Mangala Samaraweera and
Sripathi Sooriyarachchi it was decided to pursue their own
agendas as separate entities and at the same time to come on the
common platform on a common agenda of defeating the government.
They are likely to work closely in Parliament on various issues
while exerting pressure on the government to come to terms with
the opposition. They would force the government to appoint a
Parliamentary select committee to formally probe the allegations
levelled by the departed members, on a purported deal between
the Rajapaksas and the LTTE where the latter imposed a forced
boycott on the Tamil people on the day of the Presidential
The government appears to be amused over the new political
alliance being forged between the UNP and the Mangala
Samaraweera faction of the SLFP. Some government politicians
feel that Mangala’s timing is wrong and his purported alliance
with the UNP had exposed his hypocrisy.
In short he said that the meeting with the UNP was a wrong step
forward and the sympathy he gained from the SLFPers is fast
diminishing a result.
However, we are yet to see as to how the electorate would
respond to the latest political twist in the country.