22 August 2015

Mahinda is no one’s baby-sitter


It’s easy to offer advice after the fact.  Mahinda Rajapaksa had many exit-options.  He could have ruled in a way that he could go out, even in defeat, with head held high.  He did not.  And yet, he had enough popularity and even grudging respect from detractors, to go into quiet retirement, barring of course the possibility that ghosts of wrongs done might return to haunt him.

As the all-powerful executive president everything that happened during his rule either polished his status or took away the gloss.  This is why he, more than anyone else, deserves the major share of the kudos for defeating the LTTE.  It is also why he, more than anyone else including perpetrators, has to take responsibility for all the wrongdoings during his tenure.  

If he wanted to make a come back, then (yes, it’s easy to say), he could he kept away from the circus.  His backers needed him more than he needed them.  Even in this election.  They used him as pin-up boy in their campaign.  They played him for a sucker.  He got suckered.  

Now had Mahinda opted for ‘quiet retirement’.  Notwithstanding the antics of Wimal, Gammanpila et al Mahinda hadn’t lost too much ground in terms of popularity. He could have let the demand come to him.  He was impatient or else absolutely off-mark in reading the political equation.

It was a long shot anyway.  The ruling party has an edge.  Mahinda ought to have known that President Maithripala Sirisena could hardly afford to have him, Mahinda, as Prime Minister.  He, Sirisena, could and did do much damage to the UPFA campaign.  Sirisena played hard. He played dirty. Mahinda’s game during his Presidency was hardly clean and for this reason Mahinda should have expected Sirisena to do the dirty on him, even at great cost to the party.  

Had he at least pledged absolute support to the leader of his party in word and deed things might have been different.  He did not.  That’s a flaw.  Humility would have taken him to a different kind of political afterlife.  He lacked it.  He still lacks it.

As former President he knows the sway of the powers vested in that office, even with the clipping affected by the 19th Amendment.  Sirisena’s machinations should have taught him something anyway.  He should know, now, that his stock is diminishing at an alarming rate and can only continue to fall given the political circumstances he finds himself in.  

There’s very little he can do in the coming years as Leader of the Opposition, especially in what would be a diminished UPFA after Sirisena (as indicated) drags the SLFP out of the coalition.  If he has any doubts he should give Ranil Wickremesinghe a call.  Ranil knows all about being the Opposition Leader.

Under these circumstances, it is imperative that he be told the obvious. Retire.

Mahinda Rajapaksa can make a good speech.  He can make the speech he ought to have made on January 9.  He can say that too.  He can also point to the huge credibility gap between word and deed as per democracy, good governance, decency and civil conduct as far as Maithripala and Ranil are concerned.  He can flag certain things that the people should be vigilant about.  Whatever it is, the break should be clean.  

He should not fool himself that he would be letting down the people who voted for him.  He certainly won’t be letting down those who preyed on his popularity.  The people will understand.  They’ll find new leaders to articulate their concerns.  Those who feel left out by the August 17 result could be given reason by the new government  to reconsider their position.  If not, they can look for ways of recovering relevance.  He is no one’s babysitter.  And if people think they are babies, then they need to grow up.

Mahinda Rajapaksa had his hour of glory.  He will be remembered. There will be gratitude and there will be hatred.  That’s a given anyway.  He had his exit-moments.  He has one right now.  He can still go out with some dignity, less than he had of course, but enough to guarantee a decent retirement.   

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5 comments:

h. said...

Mahinda needs no baby-sitter either. He's no baby. Perhaps it's time to stop worrying too much about the timing of his retirement.

As for people being babies - well, let's not elect anyone to parliament in that case.

Please respect that a section of people in this country wants him in parliament. Whether he stays in politics or not was already decided by his voters. Those who voted/vote for the other side would be thrilled by this article of course, but they don't get to decide.

As for finding other leaders at this juncture - like who? If you give me suggestions I am willing to listen.

Please respect his wishes and please let him be for now, unless he harms the country or the people.

h. said...

And you are forgetting that when RW drafted the 19 A to suit his executive needs, it was possible to dilute it only because there was a MR-group behind the scenes. And because Wimal gave leadership to the opposition group. Don't be so keen on completely breaking the backbone of the opposition once again. You can approve of what Sirisena-Ranil-Chandrika-Champika group are doing if you like, but let those who voted UPFA/opposition decide on whom they want to represent them in parliament. It's their decision and nobody else's.

Shantha Wijeweera said...

Some people forget that without the what is derogatorily termed the fantastic four, the opposition over the past 8 months wouldn't have had any strength to oppose measures like Ranil's 19A and get a competitive result at this election. Regardless of Mahinda's faults, much of the accusations against Mahinda were implausible and borne out of revenge. The persecution of Mahinda would've been worse for them, since no-one in the SLFP was bothering to defend at least the achievements of their govt or oppose UNP as they were in awe of Sirisena. Just like Ranil has shown 5 years is long enough time to go for zero to hero. UPFA can concentrate on that future. Whilst I agree MR shouldn't take a frontline leadership role like Opposition Leader, he should remain in parliament and take a backseat role for a while. He can keep strong opposition united.

Sum said...

It's funny to see how many people has advice to offer to MR.

Seems that you think he is a political baby... After so many years of political influence since birth and do many years of political experience in ruling party and opposition, with honourable politicians and the shrewd ones, why would you think he needs your advice on when to retire.

I say he knows his subject better than you do yours!

And perhaps it's not easy to just sit back and wait, while the country that was saved from a blood bath after scarifying so many brave men, going to take a turn backwards. Perhaps country comes before self for MR. Perhaps he will never give up the struggle to keep the country safe.

Roger said...

I guess that the previous commentators here are trying to salvage their own self respect by making seemingly decent comments on why MR should still be allowed some space in the country's political sphere. I also figure they know in their hearts that the 2015 change in the political arena has created opportunity for a social change as well. A change towards a more decent, civilized, and pluralitic Sri Lanka.
They also know that with MR around this could never happen. So they should just say thank you to him for whatever good he has done and move on.
They should also ask themselves whether they wish their hero, MR to be the Jayasuriya or the Sangakkara of poltics