The Sunday Leader

Selecting A Candidate To Beat Mahinda Rajapaksa

The Opposition’s search for a common candidate to challenge President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the forthcoming presidential election has proved to be elusive, so far.

But it should not be likened to the proverbial search of blind men in a dark room searching for a black cat which isn’t there. There are candidates with proven political potential to be chosen but the choice has been difficult due to the disparate views held by contending parties.

The Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha, the highly respected High Priest of the Kotte Raja Maha Vihara is leading the search, his primary objective being to end the presidential system of governance with the defeat of President Rajapaksa.

There is also the constitutional issue raised by ex-Chief Justice Sarath N. de Silva, which is strongly supported by the JVP who challenges the right of a person who has been elected twice as president to contest for presidency once again. President Rajapaksa has sought the opinion of the Supreme Court on the validity of the constitutional objections raised but UNP leader Ranil Wickremasinghe declared last week that the Supreme Court opinion was not a verdict of the court and as such was not legally binding.

Constitutional pundits as well as political parties have not been able to overcome this legal impasse. The resolution of this constitutional objection regarding a person twice elected as president to presidency once again has to be resolved by contending parties and if not it could lead not to another presidential election but a very serious political crisis.

Meanwhile, it will be prudent for the opposition parties to choose their candidate because already President Mahinda Rajapaksa seems to be hitting the campaign trail.

As things stand UNP leader Ranil Wickremasinghe has the best qualification to be the common candidate despite the numerous defeats his party has suffered at the polls under his leadership. He has been able to hold the squabbling party together and get his main opponent in the party, Sajith Premadasa, to support his leadership. The UNP is undoubtedly the strongest opposition party. In the Presidential Election of 2005, Ranil Wickremasinghe polled 48.43 per cent of the votes to Mahinda Rajapaksa’s 50.29 per cent. With the Tamil community poised to cast their ballot for Ranil – Prabakaran for whatever reason issued a fatwa forbidding Tamils to cast their ballots. That, it is believed, cost Wickremasinghe the presidency.

In the absence of Ranil Wickremasinghe, there is former mayor of Colombo, Karu Jayasuriya, who has strong grassroots level support in the party and also has  a substantial section of the Sinhala Buddhist vote with him.

The dark horse in this Common Candidate stakes will be two time president Chandrika Kumaratunga but she too faces the hurdle of clearing the constitutional objection of running for the presidency thrice. Chandrika may have a substantial section of the party which backed her for presidency twice behind her and if the UNP and other opposition parties back her she could clear the 50 per cent mark.

But how much of the SLFP supporters will break their fealty to Rajapaksa and shift over? She will also face the embarrassing question why she did not abolish the executive presidency after winning the presidency giving that assurance to the people.

There is the presidential candidate at the last election Gen. Sarath Fonseka, who was considered to have the best chance of defeating Rajapaksa. He was acknowledged hero in the battlefield who led his troops to victory. He was described as the greatest military commander but after losing the election, it is questionable if the glamour of military victory still shines brightly on him?

Two Buddhist monks, the Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha and the Ven. Athuraliye Rathana are playing key roles in the forthcoming elections. Their influence and advice will be crucial in the choice of a common candidate.

Mahinda Rajapaksa is riding high in the political firmament and it will be hard to beat him. Thus the main criterion for selection of a common candidate should be his sole ability to beat him at the polls. And the man to do that remains as elusive as ever!

2 Comments for “Selecting A Candidate To Beat Mahinda Rajapaksa”

  1. Manuelpillai

    There is hardly no time to analyse the qualifications of the common candidates suggested so far. The opposition parties must come to an understanding and sellect the best candidate immediately as otherwise they will lose the battle.

  2. Democracy makes people to choose their government frequently so that undeserving and crooked leaders could be eliminated and purity brought back to social justice, equality and integrity to ALL citizens.

    The greedy politicos in SL for the past 60 years talked of Racism, Anti-Tamilism and Sinhala Buddhist extremism and made the masses into emotional Asses. The masses still remain so said a recent editorial in the Island Newspaper.

    Democracy believes in dialogue to resolve issues not violence and war. There was a democratic dialogue going on between GOSL and LTTE but the politicos opted for undemocratic war spending close to 2.5 trillion in the war most of which created the Elite who were arms dealers racist government officials and the politicos.

    Today, masses have not only become asses but their hatred, anger, poverty, sickness and death have increased tremendously.

    Can anyone liberate the masses from this evil?

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