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Why Does Ranil Wickremesinghe Want to Re-appoint Bondscam Implicated Ravi Karunanayake as a Minister Again?

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Ranga Jayasuriya

Now, it is all too clear that the real target of the No-Confidence Motion was not the Prime Minister, but the SLFP.

In that sense, the Joint Opposition, which sponsored it, won. The SLFP stands divided and 16 of its MPs, Ministers and Deputy Ministers, who earlier voted in favour of the No-Confidence Motion will now sit in the Opposition.

They resigned en masse from their portfolios last week. They will not sit with the Joint Opposition, at least till the time is ripe for a full-throttled pole-vaulting.

Till then, they will operate as a separate Opposition group in Parliament that is still loyal to the President.

All this could be a little bit confusing to an onlooker. How on earth, the President who claims to lead the Unity Government, also patronized a group that is opposed to the Government.

But, it is not as confusing as the previous modus operandi had been. That was to hang on to the portfolios under the same Prime Minister, on whom, they professed to have no confidence.

Nothing, no matter how ludicrous it is, appears to be off the book for the President too.

Earlier, he connived with the Joint Opposition in its abortive attempt to oust the Prime Minister. When that failed, he schemed to continue with the Government with the detractors holding tight to their portfolios.

When that too did not materialize, he seems to want to have best of both worlds.

One foot in the Government, and the other in the Joint Opposition.

This funny state of affairs is a marker of how ridiculous politics have become under the Unity Government.

The No-Confidence Motion was a victory for the UNP, not so much because the Prime Minister won it, but because finally, they can see the back of Mr Rajapaksa’s Trojan horses who sabotaged the government from within. Now they are gone, there should be an extra degree of political cohesion.

But, the President’s self- interested political calculations may continue to obscure the political momentum.

In all likelihood, he will use the first available opportunity to dissolve Parliament, soon after it reaches four-and-half years into its term.
In the absence of a resolution passed in the House demanding its dissolution, it is only then he can dissolve Parliament under the 19th Amendment.

That would mean the Government has only one-and-a-half years to effect any changes that would avert a rout in the next Parliamentary Elections.

People in this country do not vote as dictated by the UN Human Rights Council Resolutions and NGO captains. The Government will have to offer some tangible economic benefits and jobs so that the public would not feel that the past five or six years were a lost cause, no different from Chandrika Kumaratunga’s two-term presidency.

Second, the Government, if it really wants to survive, will have to run rings around potential future contenders with a less salubrious past of white van killings and fraudulent MiG deals, effectively nipping the challenge in the bud.

Instead, Mr Wickremesinghe seems to be plotting to drive the UNP on a self-destructive path.

He has reportedly proposed the reappointment of Ravi Karunanayake as a Minister.

The President, rightly so, has refused. That is one sure way of handing not just a propaganda victory, but also the next election to ex-President Rajapaksa.

Mr Karunanayake is implicated in the bond scam. The bond commission in its report has stated legal action should be taken for giving false evidence.

Mr Wickremesinghe’s defence of the bond scam and now absconding former Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran, though may not be the main reason, still affected the UNP’s defeat at the Local Government elections.

Why he needs Mr Karunanayake, one of his confidantes, is clear. As the internal calls for party reforms (which he had agreed to implement) become louder, he wants to beef up his own base.

But, just like the President is trying to strengthen his hold in the SLFP at the expense of the Unity Government, Mr Wickremesinghe does so at the expense of the UNP.

The UNP cannot win the country by banking on slums of Colombo Central and Grandpass. Electoral heft accorded to these places was an abomination of electoral democracy as it turned out to be not just in Sri Lanka, but also in much of South Asia.

If the UNP is to win, it should win the middle-class voters and the villages.

Instead, it is losing big time from Maharagama to Medawachchiya. These voters have a serious deficit of confidence towards the UNP and its leadership. It is exactly for those reasons that the UNP had to bring in Maithripala Sirisena as the Presidential candidate.

Some of the reservations of the middle class and rural voters about the UNP and Mr Wickremesinghe are indeed misconceptions perpetuated by decades of skilful propaganda by the SLFP.

The UNP should debunk these myths by actively countering them through actions that these people feel as genuine. That should be the UNP’s Avrudu resolution. Instead, it seems to have got its priorities mixed.

Courtesy:Daily Mirror

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