With the nomination date fast approaching several
contenders have already come on stage. It seems more than half a
dozen would join the fray seeking the highest post in the land.
Of course, not every one would be able to win. At the end the
race would be between two principal candidates, others would
have also run when the polling closes, may be not that much far
from the starting point.
Let us have a look at the principal contenders. One side, we
have the Commander-in-Chief and on the other, his retired Army
Commander and Chief of Defence Staff. While the former retains
his position, the latter has been replaced by new ones so that
he is devoid of the halo associated with the positions.
On the one side, we have a politician with over 40 years of
experience both in and out of Parliament. On the other, we have
a political novice whose political knowledge, leave alone
acumen, would be much less than that of even the also running
On one hand, we have a mature statesman with tested
diplomatic skills. On the other a gentleman who has not even
reached infancy in statesmanship and diplomacy.
On one side, there is a man with a vision and mission.
On the other there is a man with no identifiable vision and a
mission. The Mahinda Chintana vision has stood the test of time
whereas the on the other side, we do not see any vision at all.
On the one side, we have a contender who has a record of
accomplishing his mission on many spheres. On the other the
contender has no mission yet since his vision has not yet been
The contenders, however, could benefit from the strength and
standing of the political formations that back them. Hence, it
would not be out of place to compare the two political
formations that are rearing to go at each other.
On one side, we have the United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA)
and on the other the United National Alliance (UNA).
On the one hand, the UPFA is a formidable Alliance that has
been functioning for some time and in fact ruling the country.
The UNA, on the other hand, has been just put into shape
bringing together a motley crowd of disparate political
The UPFA is a united force both in word and deed. The UNA
comprises political forces with diverse agendas and its disunity
is already seen on stage.
Besides, the UNA is at the mercy of its coalition partner the
JVP. It is a moot point how the UNP with its neo-liberal
credentials and conservative outlook could collaborate with the
JVP with its socialist credentials and radical outlook. Leaving
politics aside there is also the sad experience of the JVP when
hundreds of its cadres and sympathizers, including their total
leadership were ruthlessly eliminated by the UNP Government in
the age of terror in 1987-89.
Though the UNA and the JVP back the same horse, it is
contradictions galore in this unholy alliance. While the UNA is
for neo-liberal economic policies as epitomised in the
'Regaining Sri Lanka' program of yesteryear, the JVP was and is
still one of its more formidable critics. On the National
Question the UNA was for the 13th Amendment to the Constitution
while the JVP is against it. The UNA candidate has, in the
meanwhile, expressed his ignorance on the issue and is expected
to consult the UNP to formulate his opinion.
The UNA wants to bring in an executive Prime Minister while
the JVP is opposed to the idea. Diverse voices are also heard
from the UNA and the JVP concerning the abolition of the
Executive Presidency. While the contestant has not shown any
enthusiasm to abide by such a time-frame, the fact remains that
it is not the Executive President but Parliament that has the
power to do so.
Besides, any such revision of the Constitution requires a
two-thirds majority in Parliament and approval by the people at
a referendum. Considering the relative strengths of political
forces it is a tall order. Hence, the promise to abolish the
Executive Presidency is only a red herring.
There is a Sinhala idiom which says that whatever someone may
say the listener should listen intelligently. The intelligent
voters, we believe, would make the correct decision on January
From the foregoing it seems to be a simple choice for the
voter. They would have to choose between order and disorder,
unity and disunity, experience and inexperience, truth and