Opportunism, the credo
The United National Party has long been
the party with the largest vote base. Though only a fraction of
its former size and strength it still commands a considerable
vote base. That is why we could say that whatever the political
and ideological inclinations of its new found partners in the
Grand Opposition Alliance, de facto decision maker in the latter
is none other than the UNP.
The reason for the allies to join the UNP is simple. Most of
them, if not all cannot dare to stand alone and seek a popular
mandate. Hence they seek to improve their chances at a future
general election by allying with the UNP for the Presidential
contest and influencing its voters to accommodate them too.
We have seen how the SLMC benefited by aligning with the UNP
at previous elections. The same is true of the Western Province
People's Front, a virtual one man show of Mano Ganeshan. As to
the claims of other three-wheeler parties in the Alliance they
fall into the realm of fantasy. The only exception is the JVP.
It has successfully tried an alignment with the Sri Lanka
Freedom Party earlier and reaped rewards at the last General
Election. It is the same strategy they have followed at present
with only a single difference. This time they have chosen the
UNP in preference to the SLFP to try their luck.
That is why a large number of UNPers including some senior
leaders are disillusioned at the strategy of the party in
abandoning the chance to field a candidate at the Presidential
election. Incidentally it is the first time in its six decade
old history that the United National Party has kept away from a
Presidential Election. The cross-over of the party's National
Organizer S. B. Dissanayake is symbolic of the frustration
within the UNP.
Similar dissentions are brewing inside the JVP too. Rank and
file members imbued with anti-capitalist and socialist
sentiments are wondering how the cause of socialism could be
served by aligning with the most conservative, reactionary and
pro-imperialist force in the political arena.
Political alliances, even electoral should have minimum of
political understanding and common thought. What is the lowest
common multiple among the constituents of this unholy alliance?
Is it the abolition of the Executive Presidency? Have they got a
program to do so? Even leaving behind the Constitutional
provisions that clearly show that a reform of the Constitution
either piecemeal or in toto should follow the existing
Constitution which requires a two-thirds majority in Parliament
and majority approval by the people at a national referendum,
are the constituent parties and the contender at the
Presidential Election agreed on its modalities?
Listening to the UNP one is made to believe that in the
unlikely scenario of their candidate's victory there will be a
shift over to an 'Executive Prime Ministerial system', though
the latter is not defined. Mano Ganeshan says the President
elected will be for a short time only.
The contender, however, has made it clear that he has no
intention to abdicate his powers. He would not be a ceremonial
figure, he has said openly.
What does all this mean? It means that the Opposition has
neither a common policy nor a common program, even a minimal
one. Their only credo seems to be nothing more than political
Could the nation entrust its destiny to a bunch of
opportunists or their proxy?
How free is free media?
Last Saturday's attack on the State media TV crews has not
made any impact on the so-called Free Media Movement. Its
silence is inexplicable. It used to come out on the streets at
the drop of a hat and even issue statements on internal
transfers of journalists by media houses.
By its silence, one could infer one of two things. Either it
is afraid to express solidarity with the victimized journalists,
knowing very well the aggressive nature of the perpetrators of
the crime or it endorses the attack.
This is not the first time that it had kept mum. It has been
selective in selecting which incidents to be condemned and which
not. Thereby it has become a collaborator or a willing
accomplice in the crime.
The same silence is observed from the international media
groups that usually make a hue and cry over incidents from which
they could get political mileage.