26 June 2015

The besieging of Ranil Wickremesinghe

It cannot be easy to run a Government with a less than 25% strength in Parliament.  Sure, Ranil Wickremesinghe has the backing of the still very powerful executive president (i.e. post 19th Amendment), but dependency is something few politicians would embrace with joy.  It helps when the Opposition is divided.  It’s a bonus when the Opposition is as confused as it is divided.  Wickremesinghe knows this.  He’s been there.  Done that. At least, he’s been subjected to a lot of invective from within.  

The problem is that the lesser numbers in Parliament is not the only headache that Ranil Wickremesinghe has.  There’s the no-confidence motion. Two in fact.  Maybe routine and designed to harass a minority government, maybe not.  Then there’s the far more serious COPE report which, strangely, is not being released.  Is someone holding it down, one wonders.  These must worry Ranil.  Then there’s also the economy.  It’s not doing well and not all of it can be blamed on the Rajapaksas.  It doesn’t help when you appoint incompetent people to do stuff they don’t have a clue about.  Yes, we are talking about the BOI.  Ah yes, how can we forget Ravi K here!  

Now that’s the real deal.  That’s the most worrisome element of this besieging business.  It is something that will not go away even if the President Sirisena decides to dissolve the moment after you read this.  Or if he has, when you get to it.  In a word, incompetence.  

Ranil Wickremesinghe is not Mr Know All.  If anyone thought he was, all illusions would have dropped when you saw how he handled the LTTE.  But if you were born after 2004 (as many Rajapaksa bashers seems to have been — going by their comments on corruption, nepotism and mismanagement) you might still think he knows everything.  Well, you might even go along with his fairytales about the Bond scam but even if the COPE report is stymied by dissolution, the facts will out.  Only the kepuwath-kola and the happily ignorant will continue to believe that RW is god of the economic and political, god of all small and big things.  They will not be convinced otherwise even if RW himself confessed.  

The problem is that even if RW is all that, he just cannot do it all by himself.  He needs resources.  Human resources.  That’s not the same as ‘men and women’.  It’s about capable men and women.  

Just the other day Upul Shantha Sannasgala, the newly appointed UNP Organiser made an observation:

“ශ්‍රී ලංකාවෙ මෙතෙක් බිහිවූ ඉතා යහපත්ම ජනාධිපතිවරයා වන මෛත්‍රිපාල සිරිසේන ඔහුගේ වටේ සිටින "කාලකන්නි" පිරිස විසින් විනාශ කර දමනු ඇතැයි මට විශාල බියක් දැනෙනවා.” 

[I have this terrible fear that the most benevolent president we have had so far, Maithripala Sirisena, will be destroyed by the despicable people who are surrounding him].

Who is surrounding the President? Rajitha Senaratne, S.B. Dissanayake and Mervin Silva?  Yes, but that’s not all (by the way all three were formerly with Ranil Wickremesinghe).  No one is embracing the President as tightly as Ranil Wickremesinghe and Chandrika Kumaratunga.  And it’s Ranil that Sannasgala has embraced.  So what on earth is he talking about?  Fear of himself?  

What Sannasgala doesn’t have the eyes to see or wishes not to say is that his leader is himself surrounded by a lot of “කාලකන්නි" (despicable) people.  Well, there’s of course Karu Jayasuriya, but he’s been well and truly sidelined.  All those who put country before party and joined the cause to oust Mahinda Rajapaksa believing that the Sirisena-RW combo would set things right are now disillusioned.  They too have been pushed aside to accommodate the very individuals and entities that had a jolly good time during the Rajapaksa regime.  They are not blaming the President though.  They are pointing the finger at Ranil.  

That’s his problem.  He doesn’t have the critical mass of decent people he needs to turn things around.  He cannot stop his ministers cutting corners, abusing position to heal the near and dear, making a few bucks on the side (or even openly — as the COPE report is set to reveal according to some).  

That’s what constitutes the Mother of all Besieging, one has to conclude.  It’s not about Mahinda or anyone else.  Not about Maithripala.  Not about numbers in Parliament.  It’s about the people he has to depend on.  

One has to wish Ranil Wickremesinghe well (IF and that’s a big ‘if’ he is the good lad that people think he is — I have my doubts).