Enough is enough | Daily News

Enough is enough

A group of UNP parliament backbenchers met Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe the other day at Temple Trees, to air their collective anger against certain private media who they claimed were on a big time smear campaign against him (Wickremesinghe). They stated that the vile propaganda against the UNP leadership was rising in tempo with each passing day due to these attacks going by default without being countered. They prevailed on the PM the urgent need for taking legal action against these private media houses before more damage could be caused.

The ire of these MPs can be understood. It is they who have picked the candidates, from their respective areas, to contest the upcoming Local Government Election and in the event of these candidates faring poorly at the poll, they (the MPs) would have to answer for not selecting the right candidate. They, therefore, naturally are in a predicament due to this frontal assault launched against the UNP leader. The voters, they feel, are not going to take kindly to candidates of a party whose leader is being accused of all things under the sun, especially when that leader continues to remain silent against this onslaught. As they say, the lie repeated over and over again assumes legitimacy ala a Goebbels particularly when relayed over a powerful medium such as Television.

True, as a true liberal democrat the Premier may have hearkened to the concept of live and let live. He has never known to have taken legal action against any private media in his political life amidst the most base and gutter campaigns carried out against him as a Presidential candidate. Nor has he responded to any of the allegations leveled against him by the media, though he has been critical of certain mediamen.

However, things appear to be getting out of hand. A certain private television channel is today manically focused on slandering the Prime Minister. Large portions of its news segments are being set apart for these attacks. Known critics of the PM are interviewed, with full tosses bowled to elicit replies that cause the maximum damage to the reputation and personnel integrity of the Premier. A Buddhist monk well known for his virulent anti-Ranil sentiments is the latest individual to be roped in by this channel to slander the Premier. He (the monk), obviously heavily bribed, now makes a daily appearance on this TV channel to lambaste the Prime Minister with language that seem totally inappropriate for a personage donned in the saffron robe.

What the public at large are unaware is that Premier Wickremesinghe has been at the receiving end of this channel since the day he refused to entertain a bid for a lucrative government contract by the owners of this channel. No one in the UNP, let alone the Premier, has brought this fact to the domain of the public, leaving the symphony to go on unchecked.

It is time the party acted to expose the hidden motives of this channel in attacking the Prime Minister. It is not just the LG candidates who are going to suffer the consequences. The UNP backbenchers who made representations to the PM for a tough response, too, are going to fall victim some day when General Elections are called. Hence, their appeals are as much for themselves as for the LG candidates they have put forward.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe cannot afford to ignore these insults. It is going to cost him personally as well as his party on the long run if he chooses to do so. There are plenty of legal options available to deal with the situation. As D'day draws near there is bound to be an escalation of these attacks, with other channels backed by the Rajapaksas too joining the party. Already these channels are busy giving wide coverage to pro- Rajapaksa Bikkhus who are enjoining the public to treat the mini-poll as a referendum against the government. A TV presenter hosting a morning show to convey the news of the daily newspapers is offering his own interpretation of events, to portray the government in poor light. Crowd pictures of Rajapaksa rallies are being doctored to magnify the attendance. It is moot whether the state run channels are doing enough to provide the other side of the picture, with the same enthusiasm and dynamism.

Be that as it may, the Grand Old Party is today hemmed in on two fronts. It is being attacked by both, members of the SLFP faction in the Unity Government, as well as the pohottuwites. The guns of the JVP too are trained more on the UNP than any other party. All these attacks against the Greens are being given full play by certain private TV Channels who owe their existence to the Rajapaksas. Amidst all this, the UNP appear to be dormant, not even carrying out an effective campaign to counter the half truths and outright lies. What is more, it's parliamentarians are today pleading with their leader to hit back against the vile propaganda against him. That shows the extent to which the party has allowed the Opposition to steal the show.


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