Ravi Karunanayke, the beleaguered Assistant Leader of the UNP suffered another serious setback to his political career last week when his party asked him to step down from his party positions until he was cleared of the charges which emerged against him as a by-product of the bond commission hearings.
There would naturally be many people in the party who would hold that Ravi Karuanayake was now a liability to the party because giving him nominations next time, would expose the entire party to a barrage of negative propaganda that they could ill afford. While such a reaction is natural and only to be expected, there is an element of scapegoating in all this.
If it stopped at simply asking him to resign because the charges against him were causing embarrassment to the government and the party, that may perhaps have been ok because such things do happen in politics.
But today, President Maithripala Sirisena, the very man who Ravi K did so much to bring into power, actually accuses former President Mahinda Rajapaksa of not having come to vote against Ravi K at the no confidence motion against him!
Ravi K is now such a pariah to this President that anyone who does not vote against Ravi is an enemy of the people!
Now we see the President going around the country telling the public that he had told Ranil Wickremesinghe not to make Ravi K the minister of finance but that the PM had not listened to him.
Ravi K is now learning the hard way that if you lay with dogs, you will have to inevitably get up with fleas. A man who could betray his party and colleagues of 40 years will think nothing of betraying his colleagues of less than 40 months.
Apart from Managala Samaraweera, who does not have much say within the UNP, it was Ravi K who was most instrumental in persuading Ranil to step aside in favour of a common candidate.
It has been stated by two yahapalana websites Lanka e News and Lanka News Web that it was Ravi K who gave the Maithripala Sirisena campaign its first Rs, 50 million when they were without any funds during the first few days. The websites said that at that time nobody had asked him where he got that money from.
To this day, the only things the yahapalana government has to show for its three years in power are the economically disastrous but popular steps taken by Ravi K such as increasing the salaries of government employees by Rs 10,000, reducing the prices of fuel, gas etcetera. While the yahapalana government claims the credit for what Ravi K did against better economic counsel they now shun him as a liability.
While having increased government salaries and reduced the price of fuel as promised in Maithripala Sirsena’s presidential election manifesto in order to pave the way for the yahapalana side to win the 2015 August parliamentary election, it was Ravi K himself who had to clean up the mess by increasing VAT and all other taxes to meet the extra government expenditure.
Needless to say, even though increased salaries and lower fuel prices were popular, increased taxes were not. So yahapalana speakers openly claim credit for the former and pass the latter off on Ravi K.
After Ravi K was made to resign his portfolio, this writer heard one yahapalana MP stating that the increase in VAT and other taxes had made the government unpopular and that Ravi K was to blame!
What we are seeing here is the kind of betrayal that one reads of only in Jathaka tales. The Jathaka tales were meant for moral instruction with both villainy and goodness being exaggerated to bring home a point.
However, the kind of betrayal and villainy that we are seeing with regard to Ravi K in real life outdoes anything in the Jathaka tales.