The Ranil imbroglio - Sri Lanka Guardian

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Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Ranil imbroglio

Sajith is a promising younger leader but he has basically been concerned with parochial politics-never went national or global seriously. Karu has the maturity and he has the image of a Buddhist Sinhala leader but he still has to outlive the most serious damage he did to the UNP by walking away with 17 parliamentarians of the party to give President Rajapakse backing to survive.
by Shyamon Jayasinghe

(August 20, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian) As Sri Lankan expatriates with no permanent political leanings to any of the political role players in Sri Lanka we are bemused and bewildered about the happenings over there on both sides of the political divide. To me they appear weird; indeed they are not healthy indicators.

The latest is the Anti-Ranil campaign in the Grand Old Party. What a slide for this party from the days of DS, Dudley and JR! The party had suffered losses then, too. It was in opposition for 7 long years once until JR patiently raised it up as a political giant. It is undeniable that the UNP has been responsible for innumerable great development schemes from the time of the Gal-Oya days during its pre-independence phase. Although JR gave us the monstrous constitution he also opened up our economy by deregulating it in 1977.That was a revolution of no mean proportions.

Now, what is this fuzz over Ranil? The assumption that he is responsible for successive polls defeats is something that needs careful assessment. Aren’t there systemic causes? Every time there is an election the ‘reformists’ jump up like Jack in the box. President Rajapakse is also carefully doing elections in stages – a practice though offensive to the principle of fair elections is enabling him to destroy the biggest single party in the country. Party members need to ask themselves the question as to whether Karu of Sajith would do any better in winning elections. Why, in the first place, did these ‘alternate leaders’ not put in their weight and show their colours during the campaigns? An election victory is a collective team effort and one cannot put the whole responsibility for winning it on the party leader.

Sajith is a promising younger leader but he has basically been concerned with parochial politics-never went national or global seriously. Karu has the maturity and he has the image of a Buddhist Sinhala leader but he still has to outlive the most serious damage he did to the UNP by walking away with 17 parliamentarians of the party to give President Rajapakse backing to survive. At that stage the government did not have enough votes to win a Speaker. From the Opposition point of view it was a good opportunity to defeat the government whereas Karu saved the government and seriously damaged the party. The latter states in defence that he went to help government t win the war. Why then did he return before the war was won? It is well-known he was desperate to leave the government because his decisions were turned down. It also well known that it was Ranil who gently and deftly went up to him at this stage and beckoned Karu to rejoin.

The other point is that reformists should wait for the legal moment to elect a leader of their choice. Shouting slogans on the road and trying to employ force is counterproductive. What must be done must be lawfully done especially by a party that’s criticising the government for the absence of the Rule of Law. Attempts to use Merv-like macho power would only go to discredit these alternate leaders. One thing is clear Sri Lanka needs accountable rulers working within the frame of the law.

The positive side of this conflict from Ranil’s point of view is that in all these crisis he has shown a leadership skill that he had never demonstrated before. There is patience; there is manoeuvre; there is intelligence and there is excellent emotional management about all his moves.

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