Want to get to the top? Keep kicking Ranil

By Gamini Weerakoon

(May 24, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) They say it was the worst of times. Political astrologers now predict that we are going in for the best of times. Instant historians have named this transition period as historic times and already books are in the press on: How The War Was Won. These creators of history apparently believe in the Bard of Stratford on Avon: ‘There is a tide in the affairs of men, which when taken at the flood leads on to fortune…..’

Getting to the top of the ladder by whatever name you call it, these are opportunistic times. Now is the time to climb the ladder of victory and get to the top — fast. And what’s the fastest and the easiest way to get to the top?

Kick Ranil Wickremesinghe and keep kicking him hard. Certainly, not the most admirable thing to do to a man who had stumbled but this is Sri Lankan politics. Those at the top still fear Wickremesinghe and there is a ready-made, powerful and influential government cheering squad to carry you to the top.

But some of these enthusiast climbers may be a trifle too late. For the past few months some distinguished personalities have been engaged in this popular sport of Ranil bashing in newspaper columns under their names and also well identified pseudonyms. What is intriguing is that its not that Wickremesinghe is undeserving of some worthy kicks on his posterior but why some of these gentlemen in retirement should take to this vigorous exercise.

Kaak, Kaak

Last week we came across a letter in the Daily Noise from an nondescript of yesteryear aptly called Kakka who was appointed to a minor diplomatic post late in his life by the UNP government. Now in his 80s, he had some lusty swipes at the UNP Leader last week. Perhaps the late octogenarian believes that there is still room at the top for the doddering. There are also consistent and congenital Ranil bashers but when families are involved we best leave him out.

Ranil Wickremesinghe has come under heavy fire particularly for his Ceasefire Agreement with Pirapaharan. This writer too was severely critical of him on this issue, years ago when writing to another paper. But one point which we raised recently in this column about Pirapaharan ordering the Tamils not to vote for Wickremesinghe at the last presidential elections remains unanswered. Pirapaharan’s fatwa resulted in Tamils who were likely to vote for Wickremesinghe not casting their ballots ensuring a victory for Mahinda Rajapakse.

Fatwa

The Tiger thinking appeared to be that Wickremesinghe, with his support of Western nations, had the Tiger chief caught in an international security net leaving him no choice but to accept a federal form of government. But Pirapaharan wanted Eelam and only Eelam.

Apparently the Tiger chief made a fundamental error in underestimating the untried, grassroots level politician from the backwoods of Medamulane. The other reason for Ranil’s defeat was the disappearance in the voters’ lists names of thousands of voters in UNP pocket boroughs of Colombo and the suburbs.

The euphoria generated right now from the military victory is that the Rajapakse regime will go on forever and ever. Climbers of the ladder of victory have during the past few days been lighting crackers on the streets, gobbling kiributh to prove their appreciation and loyalty to the ‘Maha-raja’ and most probably would be hoping to enter Temple Trees to sing bakthi gee while exhibiting their burning desire to develop the north and east of Sri Lanka. There is money for jam in those construction contracts.

Celebrations

We are a nation given to celebrations although right now Tamils seem to be in no such mood. Holidays, rallies, ‘raban’ playing on the streets with His Excellency too joining in at celebrations at Maharagama junction.

While we are in a ‘kaapapalla , beepalla, jollikarpalla’ mood, Sri Lanka is in the eye of a severe storm internationally. World leaders including the UN Secretary General and the Security Council are expressing grave concern about the plight of the estimated 250,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who escaped from the LTTE and are now being accommodated in temporary camps in the Wanni.

The international media, particularly international TV channels appear to be acting in concert with world leaders. Even after the ‘World’s greatest rescue operation,’ as government spokesmen claim -- the scenes projected on TV screens are tragic and pathetic and would not only evoke immense sympathy for these people but cause resentment and anger towards the Sri Lanka authorities.

No doubt President Rajapakse and his officials are concerned and are doing their best but that does not seem to be enough.

The message conveyed by these TV channels is that without reporters and international organisations not having free access to these camps, the world outside is unaware of the suffering going on. However, the horrible scenes are being played over and over again and it appears that even the scenes recorded while the people were in LTTE controlled areas are being projected as events now taking place within the camps.

Remedies?

The immediate priorities appear to be evacuation of the IDPs and resettlement in their villages. Let the do-gooders be asked to make their contributions in deed not only in words and funds and also guarantee that there would be no resurgence of terrorist activities in these camps. Commentators and Western leaders appear to be missing the point of the possibility of resurgence of terrorist activities.

Secondly where are the representatives of the Tamils who should be spearheading resettlement operations? TULF Leader Anandasangari who was acceptable to all parties should certainly be at the forefront. Have the government not been able to win over MPs of the Tamil National Alliance? They were called proxies of the LTTE but a true leadership should be able to win them over.

If Pirapaharan’s No. 2, Karuna Amman, could now be a minister of the government surely, the TNA MPs would pose little difficulties?

Third issue is: Where oh where is the elusive political solution of President Rajapakse?

What has happened to the resolutions of Tissa Vitharana’s All Party Conference which has laboured for years?

Or are we awaiting elections to the Uva and Southern Province Provincial Councils and don’t want to take any chances of upsetting these predominantly Sinhala electorates with political solutions?

If any political solution is to be brought about through constitutional means through parliament then the UNP support and that of its leader are an essential requirement. But then kicking Wickremesinghe is the most popular sport these days.
-Sri Lanka Guardian

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