Electioneering: leave war heroes
The decision taken by
the Defence Ministry to ban the use of our war heroes’ images in
the current election campaign is indeed a welcome move. Today,
our valiant men who sacrificed their lives for the Motherland
have become fair game for all and sundry with some unscrupulous
elements even going door to door with lists collecting money
“for the welfare of soldier families”.
But the biggest insult that could be made to these heroes is
to drag them into the squalid waters of politics that is today
inhabited by crooks, imposters and even criminal elements. This
is not to cast a slur on the decent politicians who have never
sullied their name.
True, many a politician will not pass off an opportunity to
exploit any situation in his or her favour to the hilt for
maximum political milage. As our post independence history shows
most politicians rode to power either on the dead bodies of
their spouses, parents or kith and kin.
Even dead bodies were not spared in appealing to the emotion
of the voters. Similarly, today, the voters are in a highly
emotional state almost deifying our soldiers. Any smart
politician knows only too well the merits of keeping the voters
in such a state of mind. Hence the use (abuse) of the image of
soldiers for parochial politics say the least is a denigration
of the noble sacrifice made by our valiant men.
No doubt all politicians are today basking in the reflected
glory of the achievements of our Heroic Forces and the
The unwavering stand taken by the President to pursue with
the war against terrorism amidst severe odds has earned for him
unprecedented popularity and goodwill of the masses of this
country. It is plain to see that this massive popularity is
being used by a majority of politicians to secure their
positions using the image of the President to remain in the
They similarly have been using the heroism of our Security
Forces towards the same ends. The multitude of posters, banners
that still adorn the country’s landscape put up by a grateful
nation no doubt is aiding the campaign of these politicians to
identify with the valiant troops.
There were instances during the Western Provincial Council
elections when certain candidates even constructed trenches
resembling Army bunkers as party offices. This as they say is
the giddy limit and the Government should have acted promptly to
halt this obscene exploitation of the deeds of our Security
Forces for cheap political gain.
But better late than never. Now that the Defence Ministry has
put its foot down on this abomination, steps should be taken to
ensure that the directive is strictly complied with.
Politicians of all hues should be told that the blood
sacrifices of our soldiers to protect the Motherland should not
be trivialised by bringing these into the equation of something
like politics which has become abhorrent to a majority of our
people not least by the conduct of certain politicians.
The deeds of our valiant men should thus be kept well apart
from such an exercise. The din and cacophony of the political
market place certainly will not accord with the noble deeds of
our valiant men and women who gave their lives to the
Motherland. They deserve a much higher pedestal than murky
depths of politics.
The same policy should also be adapted with regard to the
image of the President which needless to say is today being
exploited by unsavoury elements masquerading as politicians.
Today, the President’s picture is lent willy nilly to all
political campaigns which at times descend to low depths.
One recalls that the President’s office issued a directive to
Government politicians during the Western Provincial Election
campaign to desist from using the President’s image for their
But apart from the initial compliance with the directive with
even the police brought in to obliterate such posters,
unscrupulous politicians continued with the exercise exploiting
the name of the President who was the biggest draw as the
Commander-in-Chief following his relentless pursuit of the LTTE.
Strict instructions should be issued to party organizers to
leave out the images of soldiers in political campaigns
henceforth while the President’s image should appear only where
Our soldiers certainly do not deserve the ignominy of being
dragged into the political market place after their heroic role
in salvaging the Motherland.