JO at cross purposes | Daily News

JO at cross purposes

The other day, a Joint Opposition firebrand urged President Maithripala Sirisena to fire Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, to consider the possibility of the JO joining with the mainstream SLFP. Now, it (JO) has gone one step further and demanded the appointment of Mahinda Rajapaksa, as, either, the Prime Minister, or, Opposition Leader, as a condition for aligning with the SLFP. The decision was taken at a meeting of JO parliamentarians, presided over by the former President, himself, at the Parliament Complex, on Wednesday.

The JO surely cannot be serious. A sober reflection of events in the past would drive home the ludicrousness of this demand by the JO members. To begin with, Rajapaksa was the bitter rival of Sirisena at the Presidential Election, and there is no love lost between the two. The President himself has remarked that he would have been six feet under terra firma had his opposite number prevailed. President Sirisena, also, quite openly, queered the pitch of any chance of Rajapaksa assuming the Premiership, at the August 2015 General Election, by declaring that even if the UPFA won the poll he would not make MR the PM. This, no doubt, put paid to Rajapaksa being PM, under a Sirisena Presidency.

It was also said at the time that Rajapaksa will be only one bullet away from ascending the throne of Executive President, for a third time, if he was made the PM, a view pregnant with meaning, which was not lost on the enlightened members of the public. Is this worldview valid to the present day? The JO membership would do well to ponder.

Besides, MR has a lot of IOUs to settle with President Sirisena. It was under the Yahapalanaya government that some of the Rajapaksas were taken in prison buses and thrown behind bars, on corruption charges. It was under this regime that the former First Lady was summoned before the CID and her statements recorded. Rajapaksa, himself, claimed, the other day, that Gota is billed to be imprisoned in the coming days, and, that, the Yahapalanaya government was hell bent on taking revenge from the Rajapaksas. How will all this accord with the prospect of MR being made PM?

Anyway, given such an eventuality, will MR still be PM of a Yahapalanaya Government, dominated by the UNP? A JO spokesman has told a vernacular newspaper, that, so long as the UNP is a partner in the present government, they, of the JO, would have nothing to do with the SLFP. How then will this accord with the demand for making MR the PM? For, the SLFP is in the minority, in the present parliament (both, the SLFP (Sirisena faction), and, the JO combined). Is the JO planning to form a minority government, with MR as PM? Or, in the alternative, is the former President going to be PM of a UNP majority government, relegating the SLFP (Sirisena)/JO combine to the Opposition? How long can a minority government survive? Isn't this demand doomed from the very outset?

The JO spokesman, in the same breath says, that, at a time the people are fed up with the present government, it is futile to have discussions with their SLFP partners in the government. Implied in his statement is that MR, as PM, will be the panacea to end all that ails the government. In other words, a government, under MR, will rollback all that was done by the Yahapalanaya government, that has so displeased the public. It would cancel the Hambantota Port project, and, other public/private partnerships, entered into by the government, with regard to Mattala, the Colombo port etc. The new MR led government will also slash VAT, imposed on several consumer commodities, never mind sending all the revenue proposals of the Yahapalanya Government, into a tailspin.

Sri Lanka will have to start from Ground Zero, so to speak.

The demand to make MR Opposition Leader, too, is a statement made at cross purposes. This is because Rajapaksa, and, the JO, will then have to function as Independents, since they did not contest under the Pohottuwa, but the UPFA, and, are, still deemed members of the Alliance. This being a condition for their joining the mainstream SLFP, therefore, does not make sense.


What irony!

The most vociferous demand for holding local government elections has emanated from the most unlikeliest quarter. JVP Leader and Chief Opposition Whip Anura Kumara Dissanayake, breathing fire and brimstone, in parliament, on Wednesday, thundered that they of the JVP would take to the streets if the Court of Appeal fails to deliver a favourable verdict towards holding local government elections. He has also invited the Joint Opposition to join them in this campaign to force the government to hold elections.

It is the self same JVP, under Rohana Wijeweera, that threatened to kill the first five voters, at the polling stations, at the 1988 Provincial Council and Presidential Elections and the General Election of 1989, AND indeed executed the edict, among the victims being supporters of the SLFP (JO) who they are now inviting to agitate for elections. What irony! 


 

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