Despite Sri Lankan political rhetoric being rarely subtle and sophisticated in recent times we have noticed a tone of ambiguous subtlety and even obfuscation, particularly from the present opposition. An outstanding example is the call for the dissolution of parliament followed by a parliamentary election.
Till last week every party and relevant politician was for the dissolution of parliament followed by an election, provided the 20th Amendment which would bring in a new electoral system was enacted before dissolution. President Maithripala Sirisena was for it and so were political parties, big and small. However there were doubts in some quarters that this amendment was a façade to delay dissolution and the proposed election itself.
President Sirisena’s intentions were to bring the ideals of good governance and even national government to fruition in a short time. But that was asking too much. The base and power-hungry Sri Lankan political instincts could not be contained and now we have the power hungry national political instincts breaking out into full bloom.
The new General Secretary of the SLFP Anura Priyadarshana Yapa briefing the media after a SLFP Conference held on Wednesday said that if President Maithripala Sirisena invites the SLFP led UPFA to form a government in the event of the fall of UNP government, the UPFA would do so under the premiership of the present leader of the Opposition, Nimal Siripala de Silva.
Indeed the UPFA government led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa had time to go on till April 2016 when President Mahinda Rajapaksa decided to call for a presidential election two years before his official term ended and was defeated. Whether this decision was because his political base was being eroded with time or astrological advice, we can only guess. Almost all party MPs save a handful supported Mahinda Rajapaksa. In the eyes of the electorate they are discredited members who had lost their mandate by backing a rejected candidate, though they technically remain MPs. They had no other option but to back a UNP led government, appointed by President Sirisena.
President Sirisena, the former General Secretary of the SLFP, has been made its leader and is now called upon to lead the UPFA with its coalition parties, all of whom opposed him and supported Rajapaksa. A significant segment of the SLFP wants him to kiss and make up with Rajapaksa despite the stinging and acrimonious allegations they made against each other in the election campaign.
The comical paradox that President Sirisena faces is that he will have to take on the UNP that elected him to power and be supported by his former colleagues who bitterly opposed him! True, President Sirisena is not individually in the electoral fray but he had to lead his party, the SLFP.
The issue also concerns the basic democratic rights of the Sri Lankan voters. Rajapaksa and the MPs who supported him were rejected by the people on January 8. Now (as the present General Secretary of the SLFP Yapa says) if the UNP government collapses and President Sirisena invites the SLFP led UPFA to form a government, perhaps with Mahinda Rajapaksa as head, would such a government be acceptable to the people who threw out Rajapaksa in the name of democracy?
It is quite apparent that the parliamentary majority in Opposition comprising the UPFA is attempting to topple the UNP minority government with no confidence motions moved against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe and ministers Ravi Karunanayake and John Amaratunga.
The hypothetical situation stated by General Secretary of the SLFP, Yapa, if it comes true, would not only be a great travesty of democracy but would lead to grave political instability.
However it is very doubtful that President Sirisena would make such an illogical and undemocratic move even though it may be dreamt of by the desperadoes who rode like potty dictators in their limousines not many Poya moons ago but are now in the political wilderness.
Rome was not built in a day – as the old adage goes and President Sirisena tried hard to build the wrecked democratic infrastructure in 100 days. It was a task perhaps as difficult as building Rome. He has done more than any other Lankan political leader since Independence in his first 100 days. And now his task done, he should let the people decide on the crucial issues facing the nation. Dissolution of parliament and a free and fair election will be the democratic solution.