National Freedom Front leader and Joint Opposition firebrand, Wimal Weerawansa, MP, has, true to form, rattled the cage of many a government politician. He said, with his trademark grin, that a bomb should be dropped on Parliament unless at least 76 MPs opposed constitutional reforms, thereby, denying the government a two-thirds majority. The yahapalana leaders have thrown up their hands in horror, asking for protection. At least, that is what Speaker Karu Jayasuriya has told the media; he has threatened action against Weerawansa for issuing what is being described as a threat.
Most of the yahapalana politicians in the current government were part of the UNP-led UNF administration from 2001 to 2004. They never so much as uttered a whimper of protest, let alone take action, while the LTTE was perpetrating numerous acts of terrorism. Nay, they grovelled before Prabhakaran, who posed the biggest threat to Parliament, and did their damnedest to appease him. Now, they pretend to be a bunch of terrified thothttha babas (babes in arms); they would have us believe that something, uttered by a loose-tongued Opposition politician, has given them a scare!
The yahapalana politicians are baying for Weerawansa’s blood over his statement because they are pursuing a vendetta against him. Their claim of a serious threat to their lives is, not to put too fine a point on it, pure bunkum. Instead, it is they who are a threat to others. A UNP provincial councillor with underworld links has recently been arrested following a fierce gun battle with the elite police commandos! A lethal haul has also been recovered from his residence. The SLFP also has underworld characters within its ranks.
President Maithripala Sirisena has, in a bid to make a public display of his compassion, pardoned an LTTE cadre who had tried to bomb him while he was in the Rajapaksa government. So, why is the government making an issue of a mere statement a frustrated Opposition MP has made?
Weerawansa’s statement in question would have caused serious concern to us if he had made it as a member of the JVP during the second southern insurrection in the late 1980s, when a grenade was lobbed at a government group meeting in Parliament. He and other JVP cadres who dreamt of blowing Parliament sky high have now been reduced to a bunch of lackeys at the beck and call of the two main parties. His erstwhile comrades, still flaunting a revolutionary cause, are cohabiting, for all practical purposes, with the very capitalists who unleashed barbaric violence to crush their bloody uprising and, above all, had their beloved founder leader cremated even before he had breathed his last.
With the kind of members it is burdened with, Parliament needs no enemies. The recently ratified Provincial Council Election (Amendment) Bill has had on Parliament a more devastating impact than a thousand bombs, in a manner of speaking. The original Bill had only one page containing four sections. By the time it was steamrollered through Parliament, it had as many as 21 pages. The yahapalana leaders had smuggled 27 sections into it at the committee stage so as to circumvent a Supreme Court ruling which thwarted their attempt to postpone the PC polls with the help of a previous Bill. The government has not only delivered a slap on the apex court but also caused a severe erosion of public faith in the legislative process. Bombs and guns, we repeat, can’t inflict so much of damage on Parliament.
Worryingly, standards of parliamentary debate continue to deteriorate. MPs are notorious for absenteeism and dereliction of duty. The House was half empty when Parliament celebrated its 70th anniversary on a grand scale recently. More often than not slanging matches and brawls pass for debates. Billions of rupees are unflinchingly allocated through supplementary estimates for ministers’ super luxury vehicles and perks for ordinary MPs.
So, instead of trying to make a mountain out of a molehill anent Weerawansa’s statement, the government ought to take cognizance of the fact that people are extremely resentful. Public anger can be far more destructive than bombs. The yahapalana leaders talk a blue streak while doing a precious little to improve people’s lot; they are busy feathering their nests instead. Corruption is rampant and so is the abuse of power. Most of the election promises have not been fulfilled. People have been denied their fundamental right to exercise their franchise and give vent to their pent-up anger. The government keeps postponing elections on some pretext or the other as it is scared of facing the electorate.
At this rate the day may not be far off when people seriously consider doing what is seen in the dramatic scene at the climax of the action flick, V for Vendetta, where thousands of livid pro-democracy protesters, wearing the Guy Fawkes masks, march on the British parliament.