The Sunday Leader

Rajapaksa Seeni Bola

Nikita Khrushchev, successor to Josef Stalin, in his devastating sarcasm described fellow politicians as: Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build bridges where there are no rivers.

We were reminded of Khrushchev’s quote in the sixties on our initial glance at the UPFA manifesto launched with much ceremony at the Henry Pedris Stadium on Tuesday.

On ‘development’, media reports quoted the UPFA as saying that 58,000 development projects that were stalled by the interim government will be completed in the next five years. Despite keeping a close tab on development projects of the Rajapaksa regime, we must confess that we were not aware that 58,000 development projects were on line before they were unceremoniously dispatched on January 8.

In five years (1,825 days), if they are returned to power, they would have to complete more than 31 such development projects per day! What were they doing for almost 10 years? Completing 31 development projects per day would be indeed a fantastic rate of performance by Sri Lankan standards unless of course these 58,000 ‘development projects’ also include filling up pot-holes on roads or laying down of culverts.

The new UPFA election mandate apparently is not stressing on massive development projects this time around such as harbours, airports, stadiums, highways, conference halls that are still not being utilized and brought them defeat. Instead there is quite a lot of ‘seeni bola’ being thrown around.

One of the sweetest and funniest ‘seeni bola’, according to reports, is Mahinda Rajapaksa’s offer of Rs 50,000 per student in the ages between 18 to 25 years to pursue whatever academic course they desire. Those who will be beneficiaries under this proposed scheme are not clearly defined. It does appear to cover the entire range of youth from 18-25. The cost, needless to say, would be stupendous.

Would it also cover undergraduates who will receive an increased Mahapola allowance of Rs. 6,000? What of the unemployed youth who may have attempted to pursue higher studies and failed? Would they be entitled to a Rs. 50,000 scholarship if they re-enroll while those who were successful and entered the university be denied this windfall? If so, it would indeed be a unique form of scholarship – another Sri Lankan first – where those who fail will get an unprecedented reward but not those who pass!

Critics of the Rajapaksa clique will, however, say that it is the biggest election gundu – the sweetest seeni bola gundu ever – on the eve of an election.

Rajapaksa does not say how he will get the funds to go on this post-election spending splurge. His chief financial advisor, the dapper former Governor of the Central Bank, Nivard Cabraal, was lamenting two weeks ago that the interim government of Ranil Wickremesinghe had bankrupted the Treasury. On the other hand why oh why did not Rajapaksa, the great sympathizer of the Sri Lankan poor, think of the poor youth during his 10 years in office? Why only now? His stock excuse is: Expenditure on the War. But how did he manage to find finances to build cricket and other sports stadiums, grandiose monuments of little use to the people, all named after himself; provide the ‘good life’ for his cheering squad in parliament and even stage night races of luxury sports cars to please the whims and fancies of his sons?

After a 10-year term in office, Rajapaksa, who vowed at every election to abolish the Executive Presidential System of government but exploited the powers of the executive presidency to the utmost, and even amended that Constitution to enable him a lifetime presidency, now wants a constitution drafted by a constituent assembly! How democratic politicians are in defeat! To do this, he has as constitutional advisor, former Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva, whose views on changes required in constitutional law has coincided with the vagaries of his political adventures.

Mahinda Rajapaksa, in his demoted status of an ordinary parliamentary candidate, may not be as democratic he now pretends to be, if he achieves his goal as prime minister with a two-thirds majority. People who experienced that horror of dictatorial nepotism and ousted him from presidency should realise that history could very well repeat itself unless the Sri Lankan voters realise that they are still not out of the woods, despite January 8.

Rajapaksa leads the same band of political bandits he has had at the forthcoming elections. It is the same stinking arrack in same old bottles in deceptively colourful wrappers. Despite demands made by public organisations not to nominate those stained with criminal records and the call for honest, educated candidates, the UPFA has not responded.

While the manifesto of the UPFA does concede Sri Lanka as multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-religious united country, we do not hear the cry of communal amity and reconciliation being sounded loud and clear by their spokesmen on election platforms. On the other hand, there are concerns being expressed about developments in Tamil Nadu and the fall out in Sri Lanka as well as security threats in the North, which are perceived as low key communal drum beats. There are attempts to display national flags sans the strip in front of the Lion that represents the Tamil and Muslim communities.

While major political parties in the South were shy of speaking on rights of minorities, President Maithripala Sirisena broke through this communal sound barrier at the last presidential campaign by openly advocating minority rights. Any attempt to ride the dreaded communal war horse in the forthcoming election should be strongly resisted.

The words of Hermann Goering, Hitler’s propaganda chief at the Nuremberg trials will be of relevance in our context…… ‘the People can always be brought to do the bidding of the leaders. All you have to do is tell them that they (the leaders) are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and for exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country’.

Do we hear the same refrain: Security threats and lack of patriotism of pacifists?

Voters should not relax their vigilance they exercised in the defence of democracy on January 8.

4 Comments for “Rajapaksa Seeni Bola”

  1. punchinilame

    As a media you are too late in your words. Of course you too HAD to toe MRs
    line and appear to have some guts to comment now. Now the issue is not the
    future Parliament, it is the post of PM, which is DEMANDED. I think the
    educated Voters have a simple response to politics of this kind – a big NO to MR..
    He has now come down to pleading for this post even on on a temporary basis !!

  2. Edward

    This is the latest episode of the movie “Kadawonu Prondu”, Broken Promises. MR never kept any promises, except the personal promises given to his family members, relatives and political friends. People of Sri Lanka are fed up with these gimmicks and cannot be deceived again. Please vote for any one except MR and his bankrupt followers.

  3. daggy,

    Everyone has missed the punch line here.

    Its Cheenibola.

    Its a West vs East scuffle on our soil.
    Chinese money and Western promises.

    Red hooded Clergy who has information gathering and sharing centre within the Vatican walls since after the WW II speaks tongue in cheek.
    They are not interested in the liberation of the Madhu church nor what Emmanuel the Clergy man has to say. “I do not believe in the bloody and blood at offertory as it has no meaning.

  4. The opinions of leaders of political parties in the South of Sri Lanka (SL) on Federalism for SL wre published in “The Hindu” newspaper yesterday

    Democracy believes in debate, transparency and accountability based on the
    knowledge of truth.

    The historical, political and societal truth are these;

    1. The Potuguese captured our island called “Serendib” and ruled as the first colonial power from 1505 to 1658.

    2. They captured the land and the people of Jaffna Kingdom, from King Sangili separately, from the rest of the island.

    3. Later, though they captured the whole island; as indigenous Tamils were a separate people with separate land, heritage, identity, language and culture, they ruled them separately and differently.

    4. The Dutch took over in 1658 and ruled till 1796. And the British from 1796 till 1972. Both colonial powers ruled Tamils as a separate people and ruled differently from the rest of the island

    Obviously, Tamils have the right of Self Determination to determine their own future. Can MR understand at6 least now?

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