The Sunday Leader

Ranil And His Bullish Wiles

The most immediate threat to Sri Lankan democracy is not the rapid monolithic build up of administrative and political power by the Rajapaksa clan, but the visible crumbling of the opposition.
The response to the build up of a power bloc evincing anti-democratic tendencies in a country with a history of democratic traditions is the closing of ranks of the opposition to meet the challenge to democracy.  But our opposition is in absolute disarray and shows signs of being swallowed up by the ruling party.
At the centre of this alarming spectacle is the Leader of the UNP and the Opposition, Ranil Wickremesinghe. The actions of Wickremesinghe during the past few weeks are hard to comprehend. Within his own party there is a revolt against him and to remove him from the party leadership. This issue has been gathering momentum for sometime and faltering occasionally mainly due to the absence of an aspirant strong enough to displace him. The standard practice in democratic parties is for the leader to resign immediately after a defeat, or for the party to remove the incumbent from the leadership if the party membership feels that he or she is incapable of leading the party. Examples are the resignation of Britain’s Premier Gordon Brown, soon after his recent defeat at the polls and the removal of Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, when opinion polls indicated a drastic drop in his popularity. Wickremesinghe, having suffered disastrous routs at the eight provincial council elections and the parliamentary elections, while not contesting the presidential election, continues to be the party leader.
Much more alarming is the tragi-comedy he is involved in with President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The UNP Leader is now involved in a game of constitutional making or constitutional reform with Rajapaksa whom he should not touch with a barge pole considering the constitutional game Rajapaksa has played, out foxing him and destroying the UNP.
Much before the presidential and parliamentary elections, Rajapaksa wrecked the UNP by inviting it to co-operate with the UPFA government in running the country and instead inveigled 17 UNPers to go over to his side with the offer of cabinet portfolios. Having broken the back of the oldest political party that still had a sizeable following, Rajapaksa by non implementation of the 17th Amendment was able to exploit executive presidential powers to the hilt to abuse election laws and win the elections. Notwithstanding all these disasters, the UNP Leader accepts an invitation of Rajapaksa for discussions on constitutional amendments — the abolition of the executive presidency.
While these discussions are on, two UNP MPs are ‘politically abducted’ to go over to the UPFA ranks and then Rajapaksa who had indicated a shift away from executive presidency to executive premiership, goes on reverse gear and shifts back to executive presidency which he wants extended for two consecutive terms! Speaking figuratively in motoring terms, this is like knocking down a person at the centre of the road and then running over him, over and over again with absolute nonchalance!
Ranil Wickremesinghe should not consider the UNP to be his personal property or a family inheritance because of the prominent role played by some of his family members. It was the party with the biggest backing for any political party in the country, consistently registering a near 50 per cent or above that of the total number of votes cast. People have sacrificed their lives for the party such as in the 1989-90 JVP insurrection and more recently seen in the sad self-immolation of a party supporter Rienzie Algama to express his disgust at the state which the Grand Old Party had been reduced to due to squabbling among its leaders. We understand that certain statements have been made on Algama’s death to the police by prominent UNPers which could shed light on the motives behind the self-immolation.
The question on the lips of most UNPers today is: What’s Ranil up to? There is even speculation that he may want to join the UPFA just like his uncle J. R. Jayewardene wanted to join the United Front government of Sirima Bandaranaike in the ‘70s. In this context, it has to be noted that Ranil and JR are too entirely different quantities. JR was much feared, so much so, when there were rumours of his attempts to join the government, Samasamajist Leader and Finance Minister at that time, Dr. N. M. Perera declared: If he comes through the back door, I will get out of the front door; if he comes through the front door, I will get out through the window! In contrast, UPFA members consider Wickremesinghe to be politically innocuous to the extent that they openly say that he should be the permanent leader of the opposition.
For UNPers the most important thing is the future of the party and not Wickremesinghe. The latest moves appears to be to have Karu Jayasuriya as the senior deputy leader and Sajith Premadasa as the deputy leader. That would be an unstable arrangement likely to lead to further party squabbles. The party should have one strong and capable leader that can withstand the ever expanding Rajapaksa monstrosity and lead it to victory. If Wickremesinghe is to remain a leader, he should be capable of firmly enforcing his leadership and get renegades to fall in line and produce a winning party strategy. If not, he should get out or be thrown out.
A hard fact that has to be accepted is that none of the aspirants has been able to challenge Wickremesinghe successfully and that is why he still remains as the leader. Leadership cannot be presented on a platter. Leaders are those who fight through thick and thin and reach their ultimate objective, not wait for it to fall into their hands, be ceremonially presented to them or gain it through political skulduggery.
The party needs a strategy as badly as an unchallenged leader. If it cannot stand on its own feet now, a joint opposition with other parties is a feasible alternative. What it needs least is a continuing squabble for leadership.
The UNP has risen from the ashes of defeat before; once in 1956 under the leadership of J.R. Jayewardene, then in 1965 under the leadership of Dudley Senanayake and in 1977 once again under J.R. Jayewardene and ruled for 18 continuous years. There is a wealth of support for it in the country.

27 Comments for “Ranil And His Bullish Wiles”

  1. Ravana

    A politician without a vision is as useless as a man without his manhood.

    • Malla

      Both applies to Ranil I suppose. I mean the politician without a vision and SO CALLED MAN WITHOUT A MANHOOD.

  2. Ariya

    Well, if you saw this guy walking his “pada yatra” from Devundara to Colombo, you might have known why he should be the permanent opposition leader…

    The only thing that troubles is that this paper took money from him, but now playing hard to attack Ranil…How about giving back the money and then criticizing???

  3. ALIBI

    YOUR EDITORIAL COMMENTS WOULD HAVE BEEN VALID IF IN SRI LANKA, WE HAD TRULY DEMOCRATIC AND LIBERAL VALUES LIKE IN THE WEST AND IF THE ELECTIONS ARE HELD INDEPENDENTLY AND TRANSPARENTLY. WHAT WE HAD IN THE RECENT PAST IS A ‘ SHAM ‘ OF ELECTIONS WHERE THE CONDUCT OF THE ELECTIONS COMMISSIONER HIMSELF AND THOSE RESPONSIBLE FOR MAINTAINING LAW & ORDER WERE HIGHLY QUESTIONABLE WITH LARGE SCALE ABUSE OF STATE POWER AND RESOURCES. THEREFORE IT IS UNREASONABLE TO EXPECT RANIL WICKREMASINGHE TO RESIGN FROM PARTY LEADERSHIP. HOWEVER, THE UNP NEEDS REFORMS AND A GOOD LEADERSHIP STRUCTURE TO CONFRONT THE MIGHT OF THIS GOVERNMENT WHERE GOOD GOVERNANCE IS ‘ANATHEMA’. I APPEAL TO THE EDITOR TO BE MORE REALISTIC.

  4. makalu

    It is perfectly correct that there is no one to challenge RW at present. Some people say Sajith will lead the UNP ,if opportunity is given. But,my feeling is , in case Sajith is appointed as UNP leader,it is the end of UNP. May be ,it is the reason RW is not happy to give a chance to Sajith. One reason for UNP defeat is ,the regime of Premadasa Era. He made way for the assassination of nearly 60,000 Sri Lankan youths in 1989 including 850 monks. The intelligent leaders like Lalth and Gamini lost their lives due to the treatment by Premadasa regime. So,in noway Sajith is an alternative for RW. Anyway a new leader from UNP has to come up now. No matter he is a senior person in UNP there are nearly 5 millions UNPers in the country. So, it must be attempted to find a suitable alternative among the members to lead UNP. Anyway RW is a invaluable assets for any UNP leader in the future. He has all races,all religions,all communities and international support to rebuild the country.IN MY OPINION SOME ONE LIKE WIJEDASA RAJAPAKSA MAY BE GOOD ALTERNATIVE FOR rw. hE HAS ALL THE QUALIFICATIONS AND THE ABILITIES FOR THE POST.

    • Malla

      Makulu read the first comment in this. That sums up Ranil

    • Malla

      Also his international support is a myth. He only travels abroad for his self fulfillment and fun at the UNP and opposition’s expense.

  5. Sri Lankans

    Sri Lanka was so lucky that Ranil wasn’t elected in 2005. He will never be elected again. This is the best time of Sri Lanka I have seen for the last 40 years. We were regarded as a puppet nation who can’t do anything right before this president change all for good.

  6. ruwan

    All opposition members should understand Ranils inability and should find immidiate measures protect democracy in our country.

  7. Old UNPer

    Ranil is the Jonah, a born-loser. MR will not take into his fold even if Ranil wants!
    Ranil, in the name of God please go when you are not wantad. You ruined the once great GOP!!!

  8. Buddhika

    UNP need leader who can access every stage of the community and not only the Colombo English speaking people. Look at the last election results even in Colombo we lost.Look at all the work he has done. “Jana suwaya” program. He has got 89.7% from unp preferential votes. Lets appoint a great visionary and great implementer like Sajith as UNP leader

  9. sarath

    what i feel is that the best bet for the leadership is General Fonseka. High time for Ranil to retire from UNP and take rest with some boys. If Fonseka is given the leadership MR and the family will get scared n run away from this great country and the poeple can enjoy the true democracy.

  10. Prajiv Pakula

    At last an editorial worth commenting on. After years of having your editorial nose up Ranil Wickramasinghe’s *** and propping him up when it served the business interests of the Leader and the personal interests of LW, you have belatedly come to the realization that the UNP has basically become a party of a few **** bandits desperately trying to remain relevant faced with a hostile and non caring public. A little late in the game but still bettter than the alternative. Hopefully, you will be able to figure out a sensible role without latching onto the human Titanic that is Sarath Fonseka.

  11. Gamunu

    WHAT’S WRONG WITH UNP JOINING THE GOVERNMENT? THIS WILL BRING IN PEACE AND POLITICAL STABILITY IN SRI LANKA ?ISN’T THAT WHAT WE NEED? WE NEED PEACE AND HARMONY IN THIS LAND BEST THING FOR RANIL IS TO JOIN THE GOVERNMENT . ALL THE UNPIERS SHOULD PUSH FOR THIS IDEA

    • Sri Lankan

      That’s how most of us ordinary people think. But those die hard UNPers think about the party when they say “for us”, not the country or people. For them, the party is more important than the political stability and peace.

  12. Deen

    ALIBI’s comment is most appropriate and apt. As he says elections must be held independently and transparently. What we have been having as elections could be rightly termed as a “SHAM”, an eye wash. So, everyone must pray that we have a Election Commission as in India.

  13. Murugs

    Ranil is a good man,but not a smart politician.MR is way too smart & the absolute power is corrupting the whole family with nepotism & all acts of evil the country has ever seen.This is not the way to rule or ruin a country, but looks like we don’t have a choice. If MR can observe some civic rule of law, leave all family business politics,
    respect international norms , have some concern for citizen, country ..he can be a good , strong leader to rule the country for ever, if he wish to. But will he do that ?
    That is a big “IF” today. Ranil is just good for nothing, we all have seen his acts
    more than enough. MR should correct himself, he knows what he is doing is not good for anyone, even for him or his family or the country.

  14. NonResident

    Wealth of support? Yes the UNP did have. Today only the likes of Malik S and his blue eyed boy Ranil W account for the wealth in the UNP with No Support! Imagine a group of transvestites challenging the monstrosity of MR. Thats the current state of play on the UNP.

  15. sinhabahu

    Ranil the phony must be kicked out of UNP one way or the other. He self-serving for decade omg!

  16. Ravana

    This is typical of the Leader. While seeming to support one side a lot of vital things remain unsaid for the other side.

    As pointed out most of the elections Ranil is supposed to have lost were “Sham” elections hence how can he be called a serial loser. Ranil has stood for decency and rule of law in a Country that is beginning to lose the meaning of both those words. Words vital to the survival of democracy.

    Are you people advocating the appointment of a leader who will take the UNP down to the level that the Rajapaksas’ have taken the SLFP ? If so that will be the true end of democracy in this country.

    Who ever wins will rule in the same barbaric fashion.

    I do like the the Wijedasa Rajapakse option though !

  17. Like SLFP had the Moda Putha of the Bandaranaykes(Anura) UNP has Ranil sukker boy or wysa versa – meaning giver or taker he!!!!! MODA RANIL.
    Go shave your head and become a monk not a leader and not of the UNP.

  18. gamarala

    What remedy does a party leader have against his own elected MPs deserting for ‘better prospects’ in the form of portfolios,perks and power?
    This is what resulted in the rapid monolithic build up of administrative and political power by the Rajapakse clan.
    These deserters who are the SCUM of lankan politics should be blamed for this.
    Mowadays the fashion is “Ranil-Bashing” to take attention away from the autocratic rule of Mahinda Rajapakse, by such tactics,which he aims to transform into a dictatership with the proposed 18th Amendment.

    • Malla

      Leader should be manly enough to assure the MPs that UNP can win soon. This leader even does not now the meaning of Vision but tals about it. Can some on the unmanly click tell me what Ranils visision is?

  19. Vasanthakumar.

    The opposition leader must have the ability to divert the people in a logical way and to restore justice and the freedom in the country. After the independence of Srilanka the political parties still approach with ethnocentric were wrong assumptions. It is a sign that the democracy is unable to ensure the fair and equal treatment of each other by citizens.

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