“One’s days were too brief to take the burden of another’s errors on one’s shoulders. Each man lived his own life and paid his own price for living it.”
Mahinda Rajapaksa and his clan have fine-tuned that aspect of political dynamic that could be solely responsible for delivering an ailing political entity into super-action mode and achieve the results that such an action desired. This fine-tuning of the Rajapaksa-propaganda machinery did not take place yesterday when they were in the opposition. They have achieved or they thought they have years ago, that lofty goal of mass deception and political hoodwinking so that they could be in power forever. Yet, they failed. Vexing of the masses to such an intolerable extent has its own inherent disadvantages. What appears on the shallow surface does not necessarily happen to be deep enough to make the gullible masses suffer to an unending degree.
Nevertheless, the current euphoria they have artificially created about a sibling of Mahinda Rajapaksa and the accompanying message that he would be the next Presidential candidate will not hold any water come the day of reckoning. Their lies and exaggerations have to be met with facts, figures and statistics. Facts are not figments of imagination of some wishful-thinking activists; figures cannot be distorted and stats don’t lie. A phony image created around a demonic political character cannot and should not last, at least for the sake of our nation’s staunch commitment to democracy and freewill. That phony bubble will burst; it’ll shrink and disappear but it would not happen automatically. It must be made to happen by human hand. And that human hand can be provided only by the United National Party (UNP).
Almost all the alleged atrocities committed by the Rajapaksa regime could be attributed to this particular member of the Rajapaksa family. Some of the alleged atrocities amount to murders in broad daylight; some to abduction and torture of journalists; some to spraying bullets on protesters whose sole demand was cleaner water; some amount to violation of fundamental human rights; all possible human right violations have been alleged against this individual and now they, the so-called Viyathmaga (path of intellectuals) are paying Pooja to this individual hallucinating about a return to chaotic rule of the Rajapaksas when all of the above outrages were deliberately committed in order for them to remain in power and ransack the country’s coffers and treasures. The carnage of the people’s rights is not an option for a civilized nation.
The hallucination on the part of the now-defeated Pohottuwa politicos will continue their selfish and utterly-destructive politricks unless and until a sufficiently motivated group of counter-organizers band themselves and stop this sacrilegious wolf that comes in sheep’s clothing. It is only possible; it is more of a national urgency that these leftovers of the Rajapaksa era are made politically immobile forever by all means available within the frame of democracy and human rights. Their donors must be approached; their so-called intellectuals and academics must be met at debates and present counterpoints to each and every demented point and arguments they make; their frontrunners and grassroots supporters, if any, must be converted to more humane, reasonable and sensible men and women. It is no easy task. The propaganda machine, their ‘weapons of mass deception’ are much more potent and sharp than what the UNP has managed to deploy as at present.
In such a dangerous scenario, the government must be objective, detached and aloof of politics. But the UNP as a political party, with its newly-resuscitated politburo with a new and charismatic National Organizer (Navin Dissanayake), should be able to launch a robust public relations campaign. If the party leader is not ready, then disregard his un-readiness; the officials of the party have inherent duties and responsibilities to take action without creating divisions within the party framework. A scrupulously defined and vigorously activated campaign of positive image-building, party-branding and professionally-crafted messaging need to be paid attention to.
If a coalition candidate, Maithripala Sirisena, backed by the anti-Rajapaksa majority in the country coupled with an overwhelming bulk of minority voters against Mahinda Rajapaksa, the most difficult-to-defeat person of the Rajapaksa family, could emerge victorious, a clean and charismatic candidate from the United National Party stands more than a fighting chance to gain victory at the next Presidential elections in 2020. What is essential is a strategic view of the whole operation and excruciatingly diligent execution with the right people on ground to operate a campaign.
Where do you find such candidates or a candidate? Navin Dissanayake, the charismatic current national organizer and Sajith Premadasa, Deputy Leader of the UNP are qualified, experienced and transparent leaders whom the electorate would accept as alternatives to the Rajapaksa clan. There is no such second-tier leader among the siblings of the Rajapaksas. Financial cleanliness should be a manifest characteristic of an acceptable leader. In a sea of corruption, nepotism and naked corruption, it is quite hard to find one without a murmur of these ignoble traits. However, subject to future findings, both Sajith and Navin stand out as ‘clean’ among the potential candidates for the prize of presidency. Could they endure a gut-wrenching and vicious vitriol of the Mahinda-led opposition? Can either of them withstand the born-again merchants of corruption who now appear before the public as saviours of the country’s treasury which they themselves pilfered when they were the switch-holders of the government machinery? These poachers of the people’s will should be stopped now. Because this government failed to do so when they had a better than good chance at the beginning of their term in 2015, the urgency of the matter is even more exaggerated and compelling.
These questions will have to be answered in the coming few months. It is inevitable that more and more exigencies would emerge as a result of transparency and accountability facilitated by the current administration, as against the last one which advocated policies for a closed society as was evidenced in countries run by dictators and military personnel, and the unhindered interest shown by the social and formal media.
The weight and burden of leadership is very heavy. Some leaders manage to carry it with stoicism and detachment while others stumble because of the sheer heaviness of it. Greatness dwells in those who carry it without a murmur of complaint; they have chosen to carry that weight and are prepared for the consequences; those who complain and choose to lay the blame on his or her colleagues and other bedfellows will fall by the wayside. History is filled with these charlatans who had happened to be there when the time arose whole those who succeed as great leaders are the ones who pursued to carry that weight.
Human life is hard; no one will give power to you; you have to pursue it and get it. The charms of power might try to benumb you for a moment or two, yet you have to carry on regardless remembering that the power you carry on your shoulders has enormous responsibility and a strong sense of duty intrinsically residing within that. Both Sajith Premadasa and Navin Dissanayake have to show that they have not only the desire to hold power; they need to remember the sense of duty and responsibility of that power.