Print this page

Diyawanna’s Un-mandated Prime Minister

Rate this story
(2 votes)

Sri Lankans ended a futile terror led separatist war and showd they could vote anyone out of power if they fail by the people.

The whole political landscape of Sri Lanka shifted not only when the incumbent president as the minister of health crossed over after all the hair splitting speculations regarding a common candidate, but also because of what went on for months behind the scene. Everyone was taken aback by the sheer modus operandi of the actors that paved the way for the ‘change’.  In Maithreepala Sirisena’s  very first press conference, accompanied by other advisors  and gurus, he,  perhaps with less political acumen, declared that he would make the then leader of the opposition, Ranil Wickremesinghe the Prime Minster. President Sirisena made this appointment soon after he was elected president, delivering his first ‘post-election dividend’. Wickremasinghe was delighted that he found no other match in his party and a unique  political promotion was granted over riding the title he gained as the ‘most defeatable’ in politics. The caricature depiction of him in the comedy series of Puswedilla among the Colombo based Lionel Wendt audiences was proved otherwise. Wickremesinghe’s remarkable ‘come back’ is shockingly political and indicates the strategic political manipulations central to the ‘change wave’ created for the masses to capture their imagination. The Western nations’ infamous urge for ‘regime change’ in countries of their choice in their whim and fancy, agitating people on to streets, need to learn from Sri Lanka’s latest political lessons worth emulating.

Slogan ends politics begins
The Sirisena campaign was well sloganized. The experts of slogans, JHU and JVP did them in style. Neither the UNP nor the SLFP  for that matter, any other party could match their imaginative and tactical ways of gathering public imagination and to claim ‘holy’ while dabbling with ‘unholy alliances’. Both JHU and JVP in the public eye were functioning like puritanical political stalwarts with absolute authority and immaculately Venerable Mr. Cleans and white lilies.  Not that people believed them fully, but they could not pick any other close to be able to trust. They were not the best to listen to, but there were no other.  JHU and JVP both did not touch the ‘forbidden fruit’, the national question during the campaign, which took to the centre stage of what became the LTTE slogan ever since the 1976 Vaddukoddai slogan of ‘traditional Tamil homeland’, or the separatist Eelmist agenda which recently snowballed as 13+ in political discourses. JHU and JVP even though not really the best of political bed fellows, very conveniently both left the nationalist slogans under the bed and fought with one single agenda until Mahinda Rajapaksa was defeated. They did it then. Now what?

Slogans work well with the masses if they pulsate with right political temperature for the right cause. We know it from the ‘Pancha Maha Balawegaya to Dhramishta Samajaya to Nathi bari aya athi haki aya kireema to Pivithuru Hetak. They worked for a specific reality for which they are created. These worked well in history. But all slogans have their limits once the reality hits the core political future of each of the parties that agree on such a slogan. One sees the changes already since January 8. Some of the governing coalition parties are already on the next election campaign to have their seats in Diyawannawa which is natural to the future of any political party. It is in this context the 100 day magic time could be at stake. Given that a PM is appointed even though with no proper mandate, a cabinet is in full swing, an interim budget is presented with several concessions to the public plus the further fuel reduction of last week, all seem in order. While there is order created, yet the PM is on a weaker wicket in terms of his automated rise to a position of a leader of a party with no parliamentary mandate. Same predicament could hit Sirisena’s 100 day agenda and even could jeopardize itself by its own impossibility to deliver what he pledged.  One the one hand the high moral ground with which the new government has set themselves up and on the other hand the accelerated development agenda operated by the previous regime are president Sirisena’s political inheritance and could even be his regime’s professional hazard per se.

Terminating the Executive
The Sirisena-Ranil alliance with all their political incompatibilities has mustered an island-wide support for its victory.  The voter bases spread out in the country and included Tamil, Muslim and Catholic-Christian. They displayed a unique concentration to support the common candidate. Never before was such an island-wide support offered from these minorities for any other previous presidents. Some argue it as a revenge vote, but many analysts present it otherwise. 

President Sirisena has a tough pledge to deliver because he is going to be the man to run the shortest and the last presidency. He was mandated primarily for this delivery. However, he cannot do so yet, as he may nor may not have the 2/3 of the parliament to process and terminate the executive, as easily said on stage and at press conferences. His best bet would be to dissolve the current parliament and call for fresh national elections. If he attempts it then it is imperative that he has to abandon his ‘100 day mantra’.  Wickremesinghe’s next political summersault is needed here, even though there are serious doubts about his premiership in terms of a peoples’ mandate. When the people elected a president, a political child was being expected. But twin political buddies had been born, one with no consent by the people. People wanted a new president and not a new prime minister. It could be applied to the new cabinet too. However, the people can warrant and tolerate it for the smooth transfer of power for an interim period. This is why this writer has been arguing in previous discussions that what really should have happened was an interim government with an interim cabinet and an interim prime minister with the executive president holding the power with the support of the judiciary until the legislature is properly sorted with a 2/3 majority to deliver the ‘election pledge’ and the abdication of the presidential constitution permanently. This is like Damocles’ sword’ on the Sirisena-coalition, which they did not bargain for.

What Next?
It is better and far more honest to tell the people what they could do without hanging onto an undeliverable promise they thought they could. These political promises do not remain sacrosanct forever.  People adjust to the changes much more than the politicians they have elected. This is why there is a huge gap between a politician and ordinary citizens. There is so much a politician might lose and citizens are always a bonus gainer. Abraham Lincoln in his 1863 Gettysburg Address reminds us that “democracy is the government of the people, by the people, for the people”. Sri Lankans proved that they did both to end a futile terror led separatist war and as well as able to vote anyone out of power if they fail by the will of the people. The last presidential election was a good lesson not only for the Rajapaksa regime, but also for President Sirisena and the coalition, especially those preparing for the next election and wanting to occupy more spaces in Diyawanna’s political corridors.
Wickremesinghe, his party and all other parties must prove before the people that they are capable of governing this country, not just on the presidential win. Instead, their credentials must be tested by people in the upcoming election. The January presidential election was a mandate for President Sirisena for a specific task. If they wish to run a legislature led yaha palanaya then they must seek a fresh mandate to rule this nation. Until such time, the current regime is technically a caretaker government, not a peoples government as yet. This is the reason why the recent budget is interim, prime minister is half baked as some have commented and the cabinet is probably just a glorified set of CEOs. This is why this specific period of Sri Lanka’s history is unprecedented, because it was created by the people, for the people. A democracy par excellence?

Copyrights protected: All the content on this website is copyright protected and can be reproduced only by giving the due courtesy to www.nation.lk' Copyright © 2011 Rivira Media Corporation Ltd., 742, Maradana Road,Colombo 10, Sri Lanka. Web Solution By Mithila Kumara | All rights reserved.