Electoral politics has taken a huge leap back into history. King Buvenakhabahu II and the Kingdom of Kurunegala are big players in the politics of 2020, pushing the realities of economic and social hardships of the country and people into a holding bag among the key opposition players.
The Pohottuva Players in the current political drama must be having great pleasure in seeing how the electoral politics have moved away from the call of the people to a shout from a little known history. The roles of Mahinda Rajapaksa, Ranil Wickremesinghe and Sajith Premadasa are suddenly taken by the Commissioner General of Archaeology, the Road Development Authority and the Mayor of Kurunegala. What Karuna Amman did with his story of killing thousands of Sri Lankan soldiers for the LTTE, and Mahindananda Aluthgamage’s con talk about cricket match fixing for an Indian victory have been pushed far behind, as the opposition players are looking for victory through King Bhuvenakhabahu and the Kurunegala drama of calculated disaster.
With just a couple of weeks to go for the August 5 general election, the main opposition players – the Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) led by Sajith Premadasa and the UNP led by Ranil Wickremesinghe are displaying the realities of loser politics. The SLPP of the Rajapaksas will keep calling for a two-thirds majority in parliament, in their campaign to regain political power and supremacy in the country. But the current twist of politics is the rise of Buvenakhabahu II and Kurunegala into heights of the opposition campaign, which brings more than a big laugh to the Rajapaksas, whose hands await the grab of a parliamentary majority.
The names of Kings Dutugemunu and Parakramabahu the Great, so closely associated with the rise of the Sinhala race and kingdoms of Sri Lanka, together with the great Buddhist shrines and agricultural tanks built in their days, have been of great importance in the electoral politics of this country, from before and after Independence. But never have their names been so repeatedly called in electoral politics as that of Buvenakhabahu II in the opposition politics of today.
This game of cheap politics will drag on till the polls, and results of any genuine inquiries into who and why the recent destruction of the Royal Pavilion at Kurunegala will be known only, and much later, than the election of the next parliament and government. One certainty of the coming story is that the Buvenakhabahu name will be hugely replaced by those of the Rajapaksa regime.
The battle for a two-thirds goal by the Rajapaksas will get more heated in the coming days and weeks, as the two main opposition players reveal their readiness to support a Gotabaya Rajapaksa regime, five years after the people voted Mahinda Rajapaksa out of the presidency in 2015. The leaders of the UNP are all trapped in the Central Bank Bond scams, from which there is no escape, except through political alignment with the leaders of the next government. There is so much corruption in those years of so-called good governance, running through families, friends and catchers, that it can be a victory catch for the Rajapaksas, who will find all the records of their own corruption buried in the mass of power.
The SJP, or the Premadasa Team, in the political play of today is also not free of the stain of corruption. All of its key members were in the UNP, and did little to stop or expose the corruption of the yahapalana or good governance myth. They took no action against Ranil on the crooked Central Bank moves, took no action against the supremely forgetful Ravi Karunanayake, and did little against the party manipulations of Secretary Kariyawasam. The few honest members in this team are far outnumbered by those who received cheques from the Perpetual Rogues of the Central Bank Bond scams. Their much delayed, and necessary opposition to the hanging-on leadership of Ranil Wickremesinghe, does not free them from the gravy of corruption they are so badly stained with today.
Both these parties and political alliances of convenience are boastful of how they will lead a parliament that will function under the Gotabaya Presidency, which is not JRJ’s Executive Presidency. The corrupt ranks in both players will ensure the continuance of crooked governance by the Presidency and Cabinet in the current months, and the dirty terrain of the JRJ’s executive presidency.
The Pohottuva players of the Rajapaksa Team are not away from the Buvenakhabahu Politics of Deceit. There are many divisions within the Pohottuva camp, with key SLPP players openly calling voters to only vote for the Pohottuva candidates, and keep its allies, such as the SLFP out of parliament. It is now revealed from their own ranks that those nominated from the SLPP are both horses and asses. The Buvenakhabahu Play is a calculated contortion of Democracy, which all these players in the election drama claim to defend. It is in fact a distortion of Democracy aimed at a two-thirds majority towards authoritarian dominance under the SLPP, and shelter from the law on records of corruption by the Pohottuva, Elephant and Telephone players.
The voters of Sri Lanka who seek honesty in governance and unity of the people have hardly any choice in this coming election. They may have to look for some forces outside these regular party players – with the Lotus Bud, Elephant or Telephone symbols, and search for some candidates of known honesty and good parliamentary practice; or new candidates with education and expectations of honesty, even to be outspoken backbenchers in the years to come.
The real problem facing the voters on August 5 will be preventing a revival of Buvenakhabahu Politics in a Rajapaksa Domain. The larger need is for the total wiping out of feudal and corrupt thinking, pushed forward by the forces of dishonest and scandalous politics, making a loud cry for a two-thirds toll in this dirty Game of Elections.