08 May 2015

Mahinda's diminishing options

It is indeed ironical that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa's political fortunes have declined to the point that this once all-powerful executive president has to request that he be considered as the Prime Minsiterial candidate of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).  

Nothing conclusive has resulted from the meeting except a stated agreement to 'continue the dialog'.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  It is clear enough that Maithripala is not ready to entertain the idea of his predecessor being the Prime Ministerial candidate of the SLFP.

It is ironical that he has to submit the request to the man he could have but didn't appoint as Prime Minister when he, Rajapaksa, was President, a move which, if made at the right time, might have retained him the presidency.   It is also ironical that the premiership is now invested with more power than enjoyed by the Prime Ministers during his, Rajapaksa's, presidential tenure.  Finally, it is ironical that Rajapaksa, the former leader of the SLFP has to make this request from the man who bested him at the January presidential election and who went on to unseat him as the leader of the party, President Maithripala Sirisena.

The talks were framed by a felt need by all concerned to unite the SLFP with a view to contest the next election from a position of unity and strength.  The 'unity-need' however was overshadowed by moves by the Rajapaksa camp to recover lost ground within the party and in the larger political arena.  
To be fair, thanks to confusion in the Maithripala camp, confusion in the overall political arena about who governs and who opposes, rank incompetence, arrogance and mishandling over key issues by the Government, Mahinda Rajapaksa had acquired the status of de-facto Leader of the Opposition, with Dinesh Gunawardena virtually 'speaking for him' in Parliament.  This situation obviously suits the UNP and this is why that party is in an almighty hurry to have elections announced.  

However, even after the 19th Amendment, there is enough power remaining in the executive presidency to ensure that Maithripala Sirisena can, if he wants to, change things decisively.  He calls the shots.  Whether Rajapaksa likes it or not, therefore, his is to take what is offered.  He cannot demand.  

What are Mahinda's options, given the above?  

Right now there are four types of people backing him.  First there is the family whose interests are so obvious they need not be elaborated.  Then there are those who need to cling to Mahinda in the hope that he would drag them to Parliament with him.  There are those who are accused of wrongdoing who see in him a savior.  However this third category can seek to cut a deal with the UNP if they feel that party would emerge victorious in a general election.  Finally there are the Sinhala nationalists who feel that the January 8 result was a body-blow to majority concerns.  Interestingly, they probably form the majority of the numbers supporting Mahinda Rajapaksa at this point (perhaps for a lack of an alternative?).  

The President, if party interest is important to him (and there are no signs that they are), will have to ask himself what these four groups and the votes they could be expected to secure would do to the SLFP and its fortunes should these talks end in a stalemate.  The numbers could put the SLFP in the Opposition for the 4 years (at least) following an election (if held soon).  Is compromise not possible, he would have to ask.  

But it takes two to clap.  The Mahinda camp cannot afford to paint itself into a corner because with an antagonized President and a UNP-led Government, fortunes could dip further unless of course Ranil Wickremesinghe and his team play to form and disappoint the Sinhalese community to the point that governability is compromised.  

We are in for interesting times, clearly.


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14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Utter nonsense. Who are the people who can't get into parliament without Mahinda? Do you suppose your President Sirisena will say no to them if people like Dinesh, Vasu, Wimal, Gammanpila wanted to back him? It is Sirisena now with the diminishing options. Why do you purpose he wanted to 'talk' to a spent coin, him being the President? The stage is already set for MR to come from a different party and win. It is the nationalist camp that is pushing this one hundred percent and you had to belittle that struggle by your absurd analysis of four camps. Is it because JHU is no longer having nationalist interests that you have become so biased against the obvious facts? Please wake up Malinda. You are a far better person than the JHU fools. Open your eyes a bit more to what's happening to the country under Sir Sena, while JHU is in a deep plumber.

Malinda Seneviratne said...

Sure, Dinesh and Vasu would probably be accommodated. Perhaps others, but not as MR's stooges.

"Why do you purpose he wanted to 'talk' to a spent coin, him being the President?"

That's the pressure building outside Parliament (reasons elaborated in the article). But everyone has non-negotiables. MR was asking a high price for something of dubious quality.


"The stage is already set for MR to come from a different party and win."

Win? Well, predictions are cheap, aren't they? :)

The nationalists are part of it. Only a part. To imply that nationalist sentiment is important to MR is ridiculous.

Not belittling...saying as it is. Sorry if it pricked your bubble.


What the JHU does it the JHU's business. Got to disagree re 'obvious facts'. The bias is on your side.

I am no friend of this Govt. I criticize. I am amused when people talk of MR and his golayas as though they are/were saints!

Anonymous said...

Further to the above comment -
Malinda, I am a person who respects you a lot. But I am also aware of your biases. Wimal, Gammanpila, Dayan are people who are leading this campaign and they are people you don't like. You have every right to be against them. I never tried to imply that MR's golayas are saints. All 3 of the above people are not my favourites in any way, and i know that they are shrewd players with their own interests BUT I am with their struggle at this moment because they are doing what I can't do as a simple citizen. That is, speak on behalf of the people of this country who are watching helplessly as Sirisena is letting the country be raped in broad daylight. I am not talking about Wilpattu, but I am talking about the North, TNA, USA, UK and India. I am thankful that someone is taking the lead for the needed struggle against this government which will not stop until they break this country into 2.

Mahinda CAN win from another party. Over 90% of the 5.8 million votes are with him and votes of the other side have declined very much and will only break into UNP, JVP, SLFP-Sirisena factions. That is the ground reality. There are no big vote blocks from MR's 5.8 million to go to SLFP-Sirisena side. Therefore, the cards are on MR's hand.

Malinda, something you missed in your analysis - the government started prosecuting the current MR backers only, AND it started only as they saw the MR threat looming. If any of the MR backers want, they can easily align with the other side and the prosecution will stop on them. You agree on this, right? So, your argument on one of the four camps don't really hold.

Malinda Seneviratne said...

Malinda, I am a person who respects you a lot. But I am also aware of your biases. Wimal, Gammanpila, Dayan are people who are leading this campaign and they are people you don't like. You have every right to be against them. I never tried to imply that MR's golayas are saints. All 3 of the above people are not my favourites in any way, and i know that they are shrewd players with their own interests BUT I am with their struggle at this moment because they are doing what I can't do as a simple citizen. That is, speak on behalf of the people of this country who are watching helplessly as Sirisena is letting the country be raped in broad daylight. I am not talking about Wilpattu, but I am talking about the North, TNA, USA, UK and India. I am thankful that someone is taking the lead for the needed struggle against this government which will not stop until they break this country into 2.

Mahinda CAN win from another party. Over 90% of the 5.8 million votes are with him and votes of the other side have declined very much and will only break into UNP, JVP, SLFP-Sirisena factions. That is the ground reality. There are no big vote blocks from MR's 5.8 million to go to SLFP-Sirisena side. Therefore, the cards are on MR's hand.

Yes, 'selectivity' in prosecution is wrong. And yes, as hinted at in the article, there are probably negotiations going on for some wrongdoers to cut a deal with the UNP.

Anonymous said...

one thing is clear. The image MR wanted the country is slowly fading away. He has now become a beggar begging for a position under MS who was treated like dirt when MR was in power. What does it show about Mahinda"s character ? It shows that he is a man capable of lowering himself to any depth to get to power. Intelligent people would understand this and get further away from him. Surely he is a fast diminishing figure in Sri Lankan politics.. If he remained impartial allowing the new man to govern the country he could have earned some respect.

Anonymous said...

"To imply that nationalist sentiment is important to MR is ridiculous."

Malinda, yes it would be ridiculous if anyone tries to imply that MR is the same as Prof. Nalin de Silva or S L Gunasekara. But it would also be ridiculous if anyone can disregard the fact that all the separatist forces are jumping in joy that MR is no longer in the picture. You can't disregard the fact that Sampanthan didn't say that he's confident of getting their aspirations for Self-rule fulfilled by the MR regime, but he did say that about the Sirisena regime. You also cannot disregard the fact that the nationalist camp has aligned with MR because MR regime didn't give the separatist forces the upper hand, which resulted in him losing to Sirisena. (Yes, besides his other follies)

You should not worry if MR is genuine in his heart or not about the Nationalist campaign, but more importantly should assess his track record re: nationalist interests. Clearly Nalin de Silva, Gunadasa Amarasekara et al have assessed this against the conduct of both Ranil AND Sirisena.

Ajith Gunasekara said...

weird question. do you think mahinda would be as popular via the non-kolombian population if his wife's skin tone was dark?

Malinda Seneviratne said...

yes, weird. i don't think the skin tone or the face was known before 2005.

Anonymous said...

Why are we stuck with the "status quo" players in politics, as if they are the only ones who the voters have to back?

The country is sick of most politicians, including some of the UNP ministers and officials, for reasons best known to all of us. The public are disgusted by the whole lot, and have realized that all these politicians and party appointed officials are running for political or public office for their own selfish gains.

So, in this next general elections, a new crop of candidates, untainted by politics, corruption and cronyism stands a good chance to win, unseating the party die hards.

Some pundits claim that no body can win elections without being backed by an established political party . I think that is old hat. Yes, there was a time when media was not so aggressive and the youth were not so tuned in. But now, the game has changed, and the young voters can see through all of these rascals.

So, lets hope people with integrity, courage of convictions, and a track record or professional skills and aptitude, with good ethics and principles comes forward as independent candidates and beat all these political party candidates into oblivion.

Time for a new generation of legislators. Time to sweep the party politics out of office.

I bet the independents will garner a good number of seats if they target the corrupt and thug candidates in each electorate.

Malinda what say you?

Malinda Seneviratne said...

perhaps...in a first-past-the-post system. but money buys attention and the unknown good if they are not seen will not attract votes.

Malinda Seneviratne said...

perhaps...in a first-past-the-post system. but money buys attention and the unknown good if they are not seen will not attract votes.

Malinda Seneviratne said...

Yes, that's true (about the relative strength of the 'nationalist' factor). but it would be silly to pick sides only based on what sampanthan says about a single issue.

Anonymous said...

"silly to pick sides only based on what sampanthan says about a single issue."

- Yes it would be silly if it were all based on Sampanthan's one statement. I mentioned that only as one example. I don't think I need to elaborate on what Ranil and Chandrika is up to with Sirisena's blessings. It's a simple matter of aligning against them with someone who can deliver the opposite. That's what people are doing.

Anonymous said...

While you guys are working out the political permutations the scene is set for the US/UK back LTTE wolves to move in. You know very well who is going to have the last laugh...

Mother Lanka has just one option...lay back and enjoy the rape by US/UK/India/LTTE cabal.

Whichever way you cut it that is going to be the bottom line. Enjoy your discussions and analysis - it is all too late folks.