This is May Day, when many years ago there were thousands on the streets in Mai Dina Pelapaali, loudly singing “Saadukin Pelanavun – Dan ithin negitiyav” – the LSSP’s revolutionary theme song, with focus on the hunger of the people.
There are no May Day processions or rallies, today (01 May), with the spread of Covid-19 bringing a ban on all public movements, which are not possible with the physical distancing, emerging as a new social order, at least till a vaccine is available to fight the coronavirus.
But ‘Saadukin Pelanavun’ – those who are suffering and distressed by hunger, are a rising reality today, bringing a new May Day message to the Corvid-19 affected people. The distribution of rice and vegetables as well as the Rs. 5,000 state give-away has all become a political bonus. Hunger is certainly increasing with the lack of employment, absence of earnings, and with a more bleak future for those who will lose employment in the coming months.
Coronavirus is fast becoming the strategic thinking of the political charlatans who are in power, or seeking power, or trying to dominate the political exercise with a major threat to democratic traditions. While this May Day is not one for celebration in any once Socialist/Communist and now state dominated countries, it is certainly the time for political debauchery by those seeking wider power and trying to have a stranglehold on the power they have.
The Workers’ Day, which later moved to May Day, began in the United States of America, at a time when workers had to fight many battles in their own ‘Saadukin Pelanavun’ struggles. Corvid-19 has brought a new political manoeuvre to none other than President Donald Trump. Having failed to control the spread of the pandemic at the outset, he is now chanting loudly that China is seeking to defeat him at the coming presidential election. His likely rival candidate Joe Biden also warns that Trump may use coronavirus to postpone the coming election.
Corvid-19 is fast becoming the centre of political manipulation in western democracies. The UK’s Boris Johnson (now cured of Covid), who delayed a lockdown there, hoping for herd immunity, which failed, is now keen to extend the lockdown while the UK would soon have the highest number of deaths from the disease, in Europe. Sweden, which did not have a lockdown with strong trust in herd immunity, is now seeing a huge rise in infections.
Let’s get back to home realities. The shift to the West was because that’s where May Day began. We have our own Corvid politics at play here. It is at the centre of our current debate or altercations on parliamentary elections. While the Constitution, with the 19th Amendment, gave President Gotabaya Rajapaksa the power to dissolve parliament six months before the end of its term, Corvid is now playing its role in delaying the election he and the Pohottuva so eagerly want.
We are now in the midst of what is known as a ‘virtual debate’ largely on TV, Radio and YouTube on the general election. They key stars are President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Elections Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya. There are many other actors at play from Sajith Premadada to M. A. Sumanthiran and a very vocal section of the Maha Sangha.
President Gotabaya is clear he does not want a return, even temporarily, of the old, dissolved parliament. How can he agree to bring back even to a limited life the parliament he snuffed out with a single Gazette? Surely, that is not the stuff of presidential rule, and Corvid-19 can remain the stuff of a debate.
Why don’t he and his many supporters – especially the sections of the Maha Sangha with their yellow line thinking, want even a brief comeback of the last parliament? To put it very simply, it was so bad in the years it functioned. It was at the core of two Treasury Bond Scams, it saw the ‘Constitutional Coup’ in October 2018, it saw the bloodshed of the Easter Sunday tragedy in 2019, and its MPs attacked their rivals with chilli powder and waste water. What a dastardly House to be ever re-summoned?
But, what about money to run the country for the next two or three months? How does one use money from the Consolidated Fund? What about the provisions of the Constitution that enable the president to re-summon a House?
That is where Corvid-19 has the solution. The spread of the disease, and the need for physical distancing will certainly prevent re-calling a parliament, which was so largely rowdy in its behaviour. As for money, it is best to let that be solved by the Presidential Task force on Economics – headed by none other than Basil Rajapaksa. Let’s leave all that to Corvid-19.
Amidst all the noise on the last parliament and its faults and follies, there is an astounding silence on the role of the last President Maithripala Sirisena, and his roles in the crookedness of government in the Yahapalana years. He was the manipulator of the ‘Constitutional Coup’ that Mahinda Rajapaksa, a prime minister without a majority in the House, and was manipulative in controlling the Defence Council when the Easter Sunday tragedy took place. Corvid-19 will have nothing to do or say about his current links or bonds with the Pohottuva players. Let’s talk even less of his rival leader – Ranil Wickremesinghe – with Treasury Bonds hanging round his neck.
Corvid-19 would certainly have had its play for Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to summon all members of his ‘old parliament’ to a meeting at Temple Trees next Monday. Will they discuss the current reality of the coronavirus ‘Saadukin Pelanavun’? Will they all tell the suffering people – ‘Dan ithin nagitiyav’? Or, will they take to the next line of the song – ‘Mihitaley asaranun pibidiyav’ – Awake all those suffering on this earth! Yes, Corvid-19 has certainly brought such suffering.
For all who are against the re-summoning of the old parliament, and the record of its bad and rowdy performances, there is one fact that is forgotten. It is stuff and substance of the current Cabinet – with the Prime Minister and his team. One must not forget that all of them were members of the now dissolved parliament, and that they cannot be in this Cabinet, but for this reality. Also, let’s not forget that in this Cabinet are those who were exceptionally rowdy and crooked in the last parliament.
Looks like a Cabinet of the bad is good, and a parliament of the bad, is definitely bad!
‘Saadukin Pelenavun – Dan ithin negatiyav’!