Sanja De Silva Jayatilleka
It’s The People vs The Political Class, in the Aragalaya. The People are winning because they are clearer, more intelligent and are way ahead of the politicians. The parliamentarians who can’t seem to get what the people have made crystal clear, can play silly buggers only until the people stop letting them.The People have come together for a common cause, irrespective of their other differences. They have managed to distil the essence of their demands into a couple of slogans which cannot be more explicit.
The Parliamentarians, in the meantime, are still thrashing around, unable to come to a common position, nor able to persuade an adequate number into a majority to support any of their proposals.These things take time, they say. The Constitution doesn’t provide for that, they say. They look for solutions within their comfort zone, while the people, they represent, have long left that and are taking risks in a previously unchartered zone, packed with risk and danger. The politicians are not planning to follow their example anytime soon.
The People knew that the solutions had to come through the legislature. They did everything they could to send their message through their protests, which are spread across the island so no one could possibly miss it. But, increasingly, it is dawning on the people that their message is just not getting through. The ugly truth is revealed that the representatives of the people have been living in a parallel universe once they crossed the Diyawanna, in which they began to believe they acquired some special status which elevated them above the people who are pretty much a sideshow.
The People no longer trust the 225, and certainly not the +1 to represent them. They have put them on alert. The leaders of the April 28th demonstrations have even given them a deadline to do the job or get out of the way. It’s in the interest of the political class to quickly comprehend that the law, the constitution, and all other rules are kept by The People as expected, only as long as those who govern keep their side of the contract as well.The President was rudely awakened to this truth when on April 3rd the People flouted the curfew which sought to prevent the first mass demonstration. Even the cold-blooded shooting by the Police of an unarmed protester has not ebbed the momentum of an enraged people. The People have already declared that they will have those who refuse to leave, out on their ear before long.
Constitutional niceties will matter little at that point. It will be ‘que sera, sera’ afterwards. Those who worry about who will fill this or that Constitutional post needn’t worry. If they don’t act fast, they won’t have any say in any of that.
There Will Be Blood
If the politicians don’t prevent the People having to do the job themselves, there will be blood. The People will have little regard to how they do the job at that point. How difficult is it to grasp that The People want the President, the PM and the Rajapaksa regime gone?
So, in the absence of a legislative solution, the solution will devolve to the street which can do it only one way. That way will inevitably elicit a response from the law enforcement and security authorities who have pledged to protect the political elite. The People will be beyond caring by then, having tried to persuade their politicians to get over themselves and do what the people demand. They will march forward regardless of the dangers to themselves and blood will flow on the streets.
Whoever fires the guns, this blood will be on the hands of the politicians. They would have failed the people who gave them the privilege of governing. While The People suffered, some died, most had enough, and almost all marched and protested, giving plenty of time to act with similar urgency to resolve the fundamental issue they had identified as the cause of their problem, the politicians couldn’t reach across their petty little differences as The People had done. Instead, they were huddled in corners endlessly debating the many versions of the 21st Amendment, the pros and cons of the Executive Presidency, and who would be President or PM. It may be none of them.
Tone Deaf in A Parallel Universe
The People said ‘Gota Go Home’. They said ‘MR Go Home’ or a much more flippant version of that. Addressing the regime, they said the lot of you get the hell out, because time is running out for us, but they are not being heard.The refusal of the President, the PM, the Rajapaksa regime to comprehend that they are being held to account for their actions, and that no mandate, Constitutional provision, or legality could excuse the conduct which brought the whole people to the streets in protest; and the shameful inability of the Opposition to work around any constraints to change the status quo in the governing structure without indulging in their own predilections; their inability to persuade their fellow parliamentarians to come to a common position and make them stakeholders in a new transformational arrangement, and the continuing divisions within them exposes something very concerning about them.
It will be seen that not one among them had what it took, to seize the moment, step outside the frame and muster the strength to do what is necessary to be the person or persons of destiny that this moment needs.If Parliament fails, that person or those persons of destiny will emerge from the struggle, after blood is spilled for want of courage and commitment from the political class. That class or political elite cannot see that The People don’t give a damn for the rules anymore as they gather in the proliferation of GotaGoGamas around the country. Every profession, every class, every category of people has shown courage and commitment as they join the struggle and do whatever they can in their own different ways to strengthen the call for change.All the People expect is for the President to accept responsibility for his monumental blunders and step down.
They expect the PM who couldn’t stop him, to also step down, in line with his own declared belief that once you’ve lost the confidence of the people, you must leave.It is the case that the 20th Amendment made the PM powerless, but he campaigned for the 20th Amendment. The regime has been a disgrace, and so The People expect the Rajapaksas to vacate forthwith so the country could be saved from plunging further into the abyss.
If they don’t do so willingly, The People expect the Opposition to make this happen.That none of the above is likely to happen is the shame contained in the expensively maintained centres of governance and legislation. That the People of this island, are nothing like those who represent them, is clear in the precincts of every GotaGoGama, including in the supportive protests in the Diaspora.
Those of you in the business of governance, learn from the people and grow a spine. Put your bloated heads together and come up with a plan before The People have to. The People have already suggested what you should do. All you have to do is to unite to throw the perpetrators of this misery out, and quickly settle down to sorting this mess out.
Remember, with or without you, The People are not planning to lose this one.No solution proposed to-date by the Politicians of all sides responds adequately to The People’s voices. But The People mean to be heard. They will shout louder for a time, in a last clutching at straws. Then the shouts will cease to be demands, and turn into roars of rebellion or even revolution.
And as with all such overflowing of mass frustration, as they climb over the walls of the citadels they had privileged their leaders with, to throw them out with their bare hands, the guns aimed at them will claim their victims, adding for the first time to this island’s history, a People’s Revolution, not driven by ideology, but by existential imperative. The Martyrs will be celebrated and the political class denounced with every generation.