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Who needs a national government ?

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If Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe does not act fast, he might regret that the UNP could not deliver and exploit the situation, a backdoor ruling chance given to them for a short time If Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe does not act fast, he might regret that the UNP could not deliver and exploit the situation, a backdoor ruling chance given to them for a short time (Picture courtesy -AFP)

The concept of national government often came up for discussion in the past. Such a concept calls for the establishment of a system where everyone “works together”. This can happen at any time. National government is not a new concept. Some argue that, a national government will not highlight a winner, but it defines everyone as the winner. It also accommodates all members of parliament as stakeholders of the government.

This is a good concept, but whether this can be implemented within the present set up is the big question. Many intellectuals feel this cannot be implemented. They are also skeptical that the national government is an introduction by opportunists to make a loser a winner.

If a presidential election has a clear winner, then a parliamentary system also should have a clear winner. A national reconciliation can be arrived at only when the winner and losers are identified in a competition. There will not be a real reconciliation if there are no winners or losers. A winner should accommodate the loser. That is real reconciliation. However, if the present government pushes for a national government, then it will expose nothing else, but the weakness of an already handicapped UNP government. If the Prime Minister of the Interim Government Ranil Wickremesinghe says he is ready for election, it sounds good. But Wickremesinghe should back his words with action. Some legislators of the ruling government say that if the 100 Day Program cannot be completed in 100 days, then more time should be taken. Once the 100 Day Program is completed, The Government should conduct elections, they argue. That also will create a genuine doubt in the minds of average citizen. Further, it will also create a bad impression on the 100 Day Program.

Uncertain coalition
Nobody is interested in a national government. Everyone is interested in displaying unique qualities within the individual and impressing the people. A pre-minded national government concept will not in any way serve the people. Any time there can be a collapse. A change of government will always be on the cards. All minority parties including TNA, SLMC, JVP and CWC oppose the national government concept as these parties feel they will be deprived of their rights. Further, they feel that they will not have a say in the national government. LSSP general secretary Parliamentarian Prof Tissa Vitharana also criticized the sinister moves of the Government which is making efforts to form a national government. He said an all party alliance can be made, but that is also after the general elections. Some intellectuals suspect these moves are aimed at making SLFP weak and the UNP winner at the next election. People have understood this. Any such move will definitely affect the country’s forward march. Now people have started to think whether this type of sinister internal agenda is part of good governance. This will slowly tarnish the name of President Maithripala Sirisena. President Sirisena should give serious thought to this before it is too late. The President has a good future ahead with a strong SLFP in parliament. But, if he loses control of this strong position, then it not only hampers the formation of a stable government, but also brings the risks of him getting isolated in the political arena.

During the previous regime, the opposition became almost non-existent. Priviledge greedy parliamentarians are to blame for that situation. The weakened opposition had no power in parliament to resist the regime bulldozing its way through democracy and marching onto the chair of dictatorship. Even the Supreme Court failed to stop that march. Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa cannot be blamed for what happened.
Untrustworthy parliamentarians should be blamed for this situation.

If you do not have a proper opposition then corruption, abuse of power, deterioration of law and order and all non-democratic practices will increase in the system. All those ills happened, because Sri Lanka did not have a good opposition to challenge the regime until people woke up and elected the new government.

It is reasonable to say that the Rajapaksa government was also a "unity government". In one way or another, the former president was successful in retaining a majority in parliament, which ensured there were votes to pass any bill in the parliament.
Everyone knows that the system that existed was a bad practice. As a result of that one-sided legislature not opposing the executive, Sri Lanka bred a bunch of corrupted politicians, government officials, and even military officers. Thanks to them, the county is US$ 6 billion in debt. This is just one ill of the unity government. Discussing all other deleterious outcomes will be beyond the scope of this article.

As the masses have already learned from past experiences and voted against the Rajapaksa’s ‘Unity Government’, the question now arises whether another unity government-comprising members of opposing political parties- is good for the country?
One can question, if there is no strong opposition, then where is democracy? Can we talk about good governance if the basic framework is not implemented? With no opposition where is the guarantee that it will be different from the previous regime. The government is again empowered to pass any legislation it seems fit unless we have honest members in legislature.

Where will be the checks and balances if once again there is no strong opposition to stop a steamrolling government? There are other issues among the looming political uncertainty.

Already, the popular Buddhist prelate has warned the minority government of dire consequences if the election promises are not honored. But Wickremesinghe insists on going for the 19th Amendment (scrapping executive presidency and establishing independent commissions) before the general elections. Electoral reforms will come only after the new government is formed. In a way, Wickremesinghe is correct because passing the half way mark of 100 Day Program, the UNP has not achieved anything other than find fault with the previous regime.UNP has lost its way. It has not actively engaged in public service, as it has not learnt anything being in the opposition for 12 years. Wickremesinghe is slowly feeling the heat and might feel bad that the minority government could not deliver much even with the unconditional support of the opposition. If Wickremesinghe does not act fast, he might regret a lot that the UNP could not deliver and exploit the situation, a backdoor ruling chance given to them for a short time.

It seems that the 100-day plan of President Sirisena is now getting extended to a 200-day plan with the slow pace at which the government is working and the complexity of the tasks that were to be fulfilled in keeping with the plan.

The JVP, Gammanpila and other Rajapaksa backers want to dissolve Parliament on April 24 and have an election. There is a movement to bring back Rajapaksa while some in the SLFP camp are dead against it.

Before the last presidential election, all agreed that the next Prime Minister will be the majority leader of the parliament. Is President Sirisena still going to allow Wickremesinghe to be the next PM if the UNP doesn't have a majority in the parliament or will he get one of his party seniors to be the PM? These questions remain unanswered as of now.

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