Wanted credible Opposition
The much-awaited UNP Annual Convention proved to be a non-event with
Ranil Wickremesinghe and his kindred retaining power for yet another
year. The Ranil camp no doubt is jubilant but if you ask them why they
are happy they probably would not know the reason, because having Ranil
as the leader is an assurance that the party would be in the Opposition
for some more time and thus that could hardly be a reason to be happy.
Why do they elect Ranil as the leader much against the records that
he has established and does that mean that those who are around Ranil
are happy with the handouts they get from Ranil by being the Leader of
the Opposition. The question however is, could the UNP inspire all those
who have voted for the party all these years if it continues to satisfy
only the few around Ranil?
There is yet another set of people who would be happy about what
happened at the UNP Convention and those are the parasitic elements
within the Government that wants to relax and have a nice time at
people’s expense. This is because they know that as long as Ranil
remains the leader of the alternative government, they could get away
with anything, as they know that the ‘alternative’ would be the
‘alternative forever’ and never the Government.
The ardent Ranil loyalists may want us to believe that there is
nothing wrong with Ranil Wickremesinghe but it is just that he was a
victim of circumstances that conjured up at election time. For instance
they believe that Prabhakaran caused Ranil’s downfall in 2005 and the
Rajapaksa brothers defrauded the UNP sponsored Fonseka in 2010.
Yet the question however is, if Prabhakaran was responsible for
Ranil’s downfall in 2005, why didn’t he contest in 2010 when there was
The fact that Ranil had to fall behind Fonseka after five years of
Rajapaksa, who won the election by the skin of his teeth, shows that
Ranil was not sure of securing in 2010 even what he received in 2005.
Hence the supporters have to accept that Ranil lost his standing
considerably between 2005 and 2010.
Any supporter who is blind to this only has to see the percentage
vote the UNP secured in the 2010 Parliamentary election. It is a
pathetic 27.5 percent in 2010 as against 48 percent in 2005. There are
still some who may say that the UNP had even rebound from having had
just eight seats in the Parliament at one time. But what these
supporters should realize is that the UNP went down to eight seats only
under the ‘past the post’ system of elections and even at that time the
UNP had a voter share of around 45 percent even though the number of
seats it secured were few.
On the other hand, today the voter share is down to 27.5 percent but
it is enjoying more seats purely because of the proportional
representation system of elections. Therefore the UNP is increasingly
becoming a ‘three-wheeler’ party that had to rely on the election system
(cut off points etc.) to secure their seats.
The problem with Ranil is that people have lost their faith in him.
He has advocated unwise courses of action and followed unsound policies
for far too long and as a result people do not treat what he says now
with a degree of credibility anymore. He has proved beyond doubt that he
had no vision on basic issues like national security, territorial
integrity and sovereignty.
No leader who is incapable of defending those should aspire to lead
the nation for those are the base on which the survival of a nation
rests. The situation would have been much worse for Ranil if not for the
fact that there are people in this country who asininely cling to party
symbols and colours without even knowing their policies. They take pride
in saying that they have ‘voted for a particular party for generations’.
They say that ‘In India you do not cast your vote but you vote your
caste’. Similarly about Sri Lanka we could well say that, ‘People vote,
but for their past and not for their future’. Therefore the length of
time that Ranil could be in the saddle will soon be determined by the
rate at which the average UNPer become educated.
The average citizen who loves the country more than his party would
not care who is in power as long as the country is run well. We all
agree that a Government needs an Opposition to improve its efficiency
and engage in constructive criticism. Without such an Opposition the
chances are that the Government may lapse into bouts of complacency
neglecting its duties. Our concern is that the way the UNP has been
conducting its affairs it is increasingly unlikely that it could muster
enough credibility to offer this responsible Opposition to the
Government. Thus the UNP will increasingly resort to desperate measures
like what they recently did in London to grab power by means legitimate
or illegitimate. Hope is something that even a dog is entitled to but
not the UNP at this moment.