The Sunday Leader

Opposition Motto: Divided We Stand, United We Fall

Aesop, a slave in Grecian times, is attributed to be the originator of many of the fables, which we still hear of and read, and more importantly, the sayings that have come down the ages.
‘United we stand; divided we fall’, is said to be the inspired utterance of Aesop who probably would have been exhorting his fellow slaves on how to rid themselves of the yoke of slavery of their imperious masters. This wisdom has trickled down the ages to the present day where the downtrodden still reiterate the saying in times of desperation.
In Sri Lanka you will still hear this Aesopian wisdom of unity in times of adversity being quoted in various places such as in parliament, business chambers, rural development societies, high society clubs on the verge of self exposure and of course on public platforms where day in and day out we are told of the importance of national unity, if Sri Lanka is to ‘progress’.

National Unity?

National unity is a sacred cow which none of us dare to lock horns with. But even though the call for national unity has been uncontested since the days of Independence, we are as communally divided as ever before.
Sri Lankan leaders are wily. Our leaders shout from the rooftops those sagacious words, which if we follow, would land us in a soup.  Most of our leaders cry out aloud for exhortation of these noble principles by suckers who are likely to fall into a soup.
The recent call for a rally to by a united opposition to meet the political juggernaut of the Rajapaksa clan is our example of this call for unity.
If democracy is to survive anywhere under any regime an effective opposition is a sine qua non. Today, Sri Lanka’s democracy is in shambles. Because opposition parties are at each other’s throats there is virtually no effective opposition and the Rajapaksa juggernauts rolls through smashing anything and everything before them.
The call for national unity by a bhikku organization and the poor response exposed this sham for national unity. There was Sarath Fonseka on the platform standing like a mighty Jak tree swaying in the monsoonal winds and rain with some bhikkus but opposition political leaders were no where in sight
Karu Jayasuriya, the undecided, was supposed to be there as the master of ceremonies but he had excused himself at the last moment. The UNP leader and leader of the Opposition Ranil Wickremesinghe had declared war much earlier on his fellow party members and threatened them with dire consequences if they were in attendance. Sajith Premadasa and his NATO alliance – No Action Talk Only – too had given notice that they would not be there .So were members of the JVP and anyone of political note.
To an impartial observer it would have appeared that the Aesopian principle was being observed in the converse: Divided we stand, united we fall.
Apparently the impression has been created that this was an attempt by Sarath Fonseka to usurp the position of the leader of a common opposition front when others who consider themselves to be leaders of their parties want to take over the mantle of the common opposition leader.
Sarath Fonseka who was just a few days in politics after he had shed his military uniform became the opposition presidential candidate at the last presidential election when it appeared that all others would not stand a snowball’s chance in hell after the victory over the LTTE which Mahinda Rajapaksa claimed to be his. Fonseka did fairly well considering the state the opposition was in at that time and paid the penalty of being later imprisoned on various charges.
Ranil Wickremesinghe had polled 48.43 percent of the vote against Mahinda Rajapaksa’s 50.3 percent in 2005 and could have even done better had the Tamil parties expected to back him not pulled the rug from under his feet. But at the last presidential election he was in horse-racing parlance, a non starter. Sajith Premadasa is still a political filly trying to win the Derby. The JVP has lost its ‘Galkatas’ as well as political power but remains an effective agitprop force particularly in the trade union field.

Missed opportunity

What a glorious chance it would have been if those like Ranil Wickremesinghe with prominent UNPers like Karu Jayasuriya, Rukman Senanayake, Gamini Jayawickreme Perera, Sajith Premadasa, Sarath Fonseka, the JVP leadership like Somawansa Amarasinghe and Tilvin Silva, together with well known bhikkus appeared on a common platform not to elect an opposition leader but as a joint opposition political force in the making. A political opposition was the objective of the meeting Sarath Fonseka had said.
The time is ripe for an opposition force to strike hard at the Rajapaksa political machine, which has begun to stumble. The high cost of living, particularly the pangs of hunger are wearing away the glories in the battlefield. The mighty edifices like cricket stadiums, non-functional airports and barely functional harbours, rubberized roads etc. are no answers to the increased cost of living. Strikes by university dons, now the doctors and the demand of trade unions for salary hikes as much as Rs. 13,000 a month are making severe dents in the once invincible Rajapaksa armour. Galloping foreign debt and a drop in exports are having an impact on the economy. Imported cars are being reshipped because of increased taxes. People fear the usual post budget taxes. The Rajapaksa regime is stumbling in other fields as well. Thuggery has gone out of control, conflict with the judiciary and stock market scandals are all gathering a destructive political potential. What a better time could an Opposition have?
Yet, the so-called opposition leaders are squabbling and the Rajapaksa clan is getting away with it.
The least the fractured opposition can do is to try to regroup again under the patronage of the bhikkus and get an opposition going.

4 Comments for “Opposition Motto: Divided We Stand, United We Fall”

  1. P.L.J.B.Palipana

    Gen Fonseka was misguided by Karu Jayasooria. That is all. THE UNP needs not such a terrible snake.

    • Rubert Vanderkoon

      P.L.J.B.Palipana, Please, stop making childish comments. If a nobody like Karu can trick Fonseka, then Fonseka is not a leader. It was not Karu, but Fonseka was fallen into the ditch which he made. Foneka was disingenuous, greedy and hell bent on taking revenge of the Rajapakses for chasing him away from the position where he was enjoying a good life.

  2. Kiri Gamarala

    Ranil is good at kite flying but only in Colombo. The United Bikkhu Front is good at it in rural areas. Unfortunately the winds do not blow in same direction in both places at the same time and the kites are with full of holes at the moment.


    U.N.P. is now N.P. UNITED has disappeared . RANIL WICKREMASINGHE is a disgrace to the U.N.P.
    WHEN R.W. cannot lead the U.N.P. to victory at least leave and let a young
    leader like SAJITH to lead …..and WIN…

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