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National Government – Why this hurry?

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National Government – Why this hurry? (File photo)

Is it for the benefit of the people or for a few individuals?

This was a sudden change. Nobody knew of this. Even some UNPers did not know anything about this Cabinet expansion. As a result, eight UNP ministers’ portfolios were divided and given to new SLFP Cabinet ministers. Twenty- six SLFP parliamentarians were absorbed into the Cabinet. Moderate citizen understand one thing very clearly is that this change is not going to bring any benefit to the mass, but it might benefit some individuals. Thereby, this move must have made a considerable amount of damage to so-called Good Governance.

Why this hurry? there were important instances where the country needed National Government. After1987, Indo – Lanka accord, to protest against the accord and foreign invasion, the country needed a Unity Government. But it did not materialize. Then to solve the ethnic issue,country needed a National Government. That did not happen. Then during Tsunami disaster and decisive war against the LTTE, there was a need for Unity Government, but that did not materialize. Therefore, we can conclude that without any urgency, a Unity Government setup was formed. It created many doubts ..

This sudden move would have been an attempt to strengthen the minority government. Another reason could be to ensure passing the 19th Amendment without any problem. Another reason could be to create division inside the SLFP, and slowly sideline Mahinda Rajapaksa from entering active politics. If the latter was the reason, then it clearly shows the top guns in the present political circle still fear the former president Rajapaksa, even after the defeat on January 8, 2015. Even some say, MR’s popularity has increased a lot after this defeat in January.

After all, one would laugh at these developments, what else can the UNP do now? Who knows the next step?  If the President can appoint ministers arbitrarily in this way, then even the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe could be replaced overnight, if necessity even top guns. A rational-thinking person would question the government what else it would pursue when it has not done anything tangible up to now. This could be one alternative, where the Maithripala-Ranil government forcibly absorbed few SLFP members into the Cabinet, so that the SLFP also will become stakeholders to the failed 100-day program. But one could question, will the government become a national government by merely absorbing some Opposition members into the minority government?

If this happened then the question arises as to who will be the Opposition. Will the TNA become the Opposition? Then, the TNA will have a better recognition nationally and internationally to carry out its illicit unpatriotic agenda. The JVP has already said this is not a national government, but a coalition only. A national government should accommodate all representatives in the Parliament. A national government should be formed under special situation. There is no special situation in this country now. There is no urgency for such an arrangement. Thus, this arrangement has been made for some to get undue political gains. Some say this arrangement is made for the UNP to get the governing authority without going for an election.
If you think deeply, nothing substantial appears to have been realized so far, despite a valiant, but disorganized effort. Even the hunt for corruption and crime has so far produced only sprats. The assignment is certainly, an uphill task, depending much on factors not readily accessible to the investigators as may be appreciated by the people. You cannot keep on finding fault on others. One must understand one cannot serve the people honestly by talking about bribery, corruptions and related allegation only. But the fact remains that none of the scandalous charges leveled against those at the helm of the previous regime has been established so far. People do not feel these as part of public service as corruption charges do not help the public directly. Prime Minister of the interim government Ranil Wickremesinghe is dreaming to become the next PM after general election. People have lost confidence in this minority UNP government. In fact, the UNP lost the golden opportunity given to them through back door in January 2015. The UNP slowly is showing their inexperience in ruling the country as they were on the Opposition for 10 years.

Whatever said and done, a few incidents show that there is a small rift between President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. For an example, President Sirisena visited Jaffna in the middle of March 2015, and initiated many projects and met the Tamil leaders as well. Ranil Wickremesinghe and CBK also went with the President. But just after four days, prime minister made another visit to Jaffna, raising doubts of division in the winning coalition. Ranil Wickremesinghe made a separate visit and initiated many development projects. He also made an authoritative statement that next National Sports Festival will be held in Jaffna. But, some intellectuals say this authoritative statement should be made by the President. When the President was away on an official visit to China, PM Ranil Wickremesinghe making another visit and making high authoritative statements made a rational-thinking person cast a doubt on the national agenda and raises issues who is the most authoritative person in the country. There is an issue to ascertain as to who is the leader of this country?

Meanwhile, Parliamentarian Nimal Siripala de Silva said he would continue to remain as the Opposition Leader despite the unique situation emerged in the Parliament following the formation of the National Unity Government and added that the government’s 100-day program may be extend into even 200-days, depending on the pace with which, the promised amendments to the Constitution and the electoral reforms would be implemented.

The Speaker has a daunting task to decide the new Opposition leader due to the new situation in the Parliament. Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa is given this task, and he may come up with a just and fair solution. Will it be Nimal Siripala De Silva or Dinesh Gunawardena or Sampanthan? We need to wait and see. Perhaps an Opposition leader will be decided upon by the time this article goes into publication. But moderate citizen will understand this situation quickly.

This situation has risen due to the undue pressure given by President Maithripala backed by CBK. Already JVP parliamentarian, Anura Kumara Dissanayake alleged that Opposition Leader Nimala Siripala De Silva was acting under the pressure from the President. Speaking to a Sinhala daily, Parliamentarian Anura Kumara Dissanayake alleged that Opposition leader opposing to 19A amendment was due to the pressure given by President Maithripala. Does this mean President Maithripala is not willing to abolish executive presidency? This was the main promise given during the presidential election to be implemented in 100-day program. If this is true, a moderate citizen will raise his doubts whether this is a Good Governance or Dictator Governance.
Further, the situation made us to understand that President Maithripala and CBK are trying to break the strong SLFP under the name of National Government. This will give room for already weakened UNP to take upper hand. Also President Maithripala should understand that one thing that he got the leadership of the SLFP because MR gave it. But although President Maithripala got this leadership, if he is an honest statesman, he should interfere in internal matters of the SLFP, since he himself betrayed the SLFP by crossing over to common opposition in November 2014.Therefore, President Maithripala may not have ethical right to guide the SLFP. Similarly, CBK also does not have any right to do so, because she did not contribute anything for the growth of the party. She, herself, betrayed her own party in the past. By breaking away  from the SLFP, CBK not only destroys the strong SLFP, but also makes her future into a dire straits.CBK should not leave room for emotional revenge or individual rifts with MR, but work for the benefit of the party.

Even President Maithripala cannot expect a better future if the SLFP loses popularity. MR faced a similar situation in 2005, but overcame all obstacles and won the presidential election in 2005. One cannot expect sympathy from MR after making all wrong doings to him before the election.MR is facing a similar situation. On the other side, Ranil Wickremesinghe will be the happiest person to maintain this position, but mind you, Ranil Wickremesinghe will also not forget the bitter experience with the former president CBK, way back in 2002-2004 period . Therefore, if the UNP captures power, they will not give any room to the SLFP, although the UNP speaks a lot about Unity Government now. The UNP has been in the Opposition for a long time. The UNP do not want to stay in the Opposition any further. To tell you the truth, although the UNP runs the government now, they are not happy with the position because they do not have clear majority in the Parliament. They have only 42 members. So, understanding this situation, the SLFP should not leave room for division and make use of MR’s popularity to keep their parliamentary seats in the next general election. The UNP has lost its popularity during this 100-day program. Therefore, the SLFP should make maximum use of this, and exploit this situation during next election.    

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