As the polls campaign gets under way there is a growing similarity between the two lead players in what they offer to the people, and what they don’t.
The Green and Purple offers have strong links to one’s family. Sajith keeps reminding us of what his father did or promised – like preparing a title deed to the people on the political assets of one’s father. Gota sees no way of moving away from what his elder brother and former president did, in what is the best or worst known record of family politics in this country.
Free school uniforms, mid-day meals and such offers at public expense, and not from any private funds of those who make the promise, are the stuff of promise-politics that has dominated our national election campaigns from parliamentary politics to the presidential exercise. Let us not forget the amount of rice that Dudley Senanayake promised the people, and how Sirimavo Bandaranaike met that with the promise of rice from the Moon.
The stain of the war is not easily removed from our minds, whatever side we may be on. But the continued reminder of War Heroes is very much part of political propaganda, than the respectful recognition of those who fought to protect national unity. Law and Order is a mockery in the process of promise-politics with Gotabaya promising to remove from prison all the War Heroes held in remand prison, the very next day after his election.
Sajith says that War Heroes will never be betrayed. What is this betrayal? Would War Heroes be honoured when political leaders who claim to protect democracy and carry out honest governance, are involved in multi-million rupee frauds such as the Central Bank Bond Scam?
Have we heard even one word from Sajith that is critical of the crooked moves by his own party leaders in this huge exercise of corruption and national theft? Is that not a betrayal of War Heroes who fought, sacrificing lives and limbs, to protect democracy and build an honest society?
The other catchword in this time of promise-politics is corruption. Both key players talk of wanting to eliminate corruption, with Gotabaya louder in the call. Let’s be honest and admit that corruption has been the stuff of our politics from the time we gained independence in 1948. Political corruption from father to son was the stuff of the Senanayake politics, while the mother to son and daughter was that of the Bandaranaikes, and entire family politics is the gist of Rajapaksa politics.
That is the sweep of corruption in our politics, and sadly governance today. Premadasa politics was not far away from family benefits, and much worse the pro-LTTE transfer of weapons. How can either of these two candidates, whose political parties or political alliances and fronts that are at the core of corruption in the country, ever make the people believe they are true fighters against corruption?
With all the benefits of delayed investigations by the Police, the CID and FCID, and gathering files with the Attorney General’s Dept., the Pohottuva candidate Gotabaya and his key supporters are those with cases lined up in the courts on issues of criminal corruption. That pile up also raises questions about the very issue of court room delays, which includes the standing down of judges, and many other issues that require legislative solutions against ‘legal delays’. Can either of these candidates say with all honesty that there was no political understanding among the UNP, SLFP and SLPP leaders about the delays in probing corruption, and the delays in prosecutions?
What do Sajith and Gotabaya promise the people on stopping legal or courtroom delays? Nothing! Such delays always benefit politicians, but cause much pain and suffering to the average citizen.
The world has certainly moved away from time of old politics to the time of new attention to the environment, climate change and other realities of life today. What promises do these two runners have to offer on these matters? Is there one word from them on the increasing number of elephants being killed in this country?
What can they say about even trying to stop the movement of people into forest and wildlife reserves? Is there anything they can or would say about expanding the wild life regions in this country?
Not being a man with children or brothers Sajith may look better than Gotabaya and the Rajapaksa family. But, the Gam Udawa expansions, are certainly affecting the nature and environment in this country, as bad as the Rajapaksa family’s roadway expansions, airport, harbour and playing field expansions, with no regard to the needs of nature and the environment.
What do these two candidates have to offer the people on how we would protect our water resources, which could be very dangerously threatened in the coming decades? Is there anything serious that they tell about the use of solar power and wind in expanded power generation in the country? Turn it the other way – do they tell anything about restricting politicians from getting duty free, luxury, and huge fuel consumption vehicles? Do they have one word to say about the farcical and disastrously costly parliamentary and administrative process in this country? All of this gets a huge NO, NO response.
This is the Age of Promise-Politics in Sri Lanka. It is not the time for any plans for progress in society, economy and governance. It is the time of the politics of promise without performance, and the stuff of deceitful politics.