|Friday, 24 October 2003|
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Street shows and petty politics
If not for the gruelling test of the tax-paying public's patience it is likely to turn out to be, the opposition - orchestrated "Ivasuva Ethi" protest scheduled for today should be dismissed for what it is - mere "sound and fury signifying nothing".
We arrive at this assessment on the basis of our observations of carefully stage-managed political events of this kind in the past. In fact, the UNP proved to be quite proficient at them while in the opposition. Inasmuch as these highway histrionics didn't serve the UNP "cause" much then, they are unlikely to serve the PA "cause" much now.
For, any impartial attempt at analysing the defeat of the PA regime two years ago would reveal that they were voted out mainly on account of their abysmal failure to provide the people with the elementary requirements of life; in other words they lost on "rice and curry" issues and not on account of any stage-managed street antics which culminated in meandering rhetorical harangues by politicians. They were "shows" which only caused the public grave hardships and this is going to be the lot of the "man of the street" today.
What the opposition needs to realise is this: highway histrionics taken even to the absurdest extremes are not going to sway the voter who makes or breaks governments. Primarily, it is accumulated economic grievances and misgovernance which infuriate the average voter and makes him consider an alternative to the incumbent regime.
We need hardly say that the ordinary citizens of this country have an impeccable "nose" for politics and are usually not in need of any preaching from politicians to make the correct political choices. Given the appalling failure of the former PA regime on a number of fronts, besides the economy and the ethnic conflict, it simply had to go.
It was acute public disenchantment and not street shows which compelled the ordinary people to vote the PA out.
The PA, apparently, is making the grave error of underestimating the average voter's political astuteness and intelligence. Droves of PA supporters are certain to converge on the Town Hall grounds today, but it doesn't require much IQ to figure out that these are the die-hards of the opposition who have been organized, given a packet of lunch, a "pint" and pocket money and probably driven to the city by the organisers of the show.
In other words, these supporters are acting on the party diktat. How, then, are the big whigs of the opposition hoping to impress the public? These shows don't usually prove to be "sell outs" because the ordinary onlooker understands the mechanics of the operation.
However, today's show could prove somewhat important for what is not loudly proclaimed from the platforms: that is, the divisive internal petty politics of the opposition. Today's show apparently is mainly in honour of the President. She needs propping-up because in the thinking of the organisers, the JVP had stolen the show earlier with street antics of its own. Besides the Opposition Leader had launched his own Walkathon in the South as a show of force against his foes within his fold.
So, this is the inside story of these attempted shows of strength which cost us so dearly.
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