Dayasiri’s dream | Daily News

Dayasiri’s dream

The 16 SLFP ministers and state/deputy ministers who quit the unity government following the abortive No Confidence Motion against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe are to meet former President Mahinda Rajapaksa tomorrow, it is being widely reported. According Dayasiri Jayasekera who was in the forefront in the campaign to oust the Premier their discussions with Rajapaksa will be centred on exploring the possibility of the SLFP and the pohottuwa working together in unison under a common programme with a view to capturing power. They were also planning to meet leaders of other political parties within the pohottuwa such as Wimal Weerawansa, Udaya Gammanpila and also D.E.W. Gunasekera in furtherance of this strategy. Jayasekera also said: “meeting the former President is part of our attempt to forge a broad coalition of progressive forces”.

Those who have been observing the conduct of these 16 SLFPers during the three and half years they were in the government would find nothing extraordinary in them meeting Rajapaksa. They had been honeymooning with the Rajapaksas all along and now it is time for the grand ‘homecoming’. Nay, people like Susil Premajayantha and John Seneviratne were openly supporting the former ruling clan while Dayasiri Jayasekera was seen in the company of Rajapaksa at temple ceremonies. All this while remaining in the government, holding ministerial office and enjoying the perks and privileges that go with it.

This playing of footsie with the Joint Opposition had to come to an end sometime and the results of the local government election propelled them out of this hide and seek game to take a more open stance in a move pregnant with sheer opportunism.

But many questions remain unanswered in Jayasekera’s bid to unite the SLFP and the pohottuwa to grab state power. Both, UPFA General Secretary Mahinda Amaraweera and SLFP General Secretary Duminda Dissanayake have unequivocally stated that President Maithripala Sirisena will be the SLFP’s Presidential candidate in 2020. The President too has more than hinted that he will stand for re-election. On the other hand Mahinda Rajapaksa, it was, who led the pohottuwa to victory against both the UNP and the SLFP of which President Sirisena holds the leadership, on February 10. Rajapaksa though is disqualified from holding Presidential office and if the SLFP and the pohottuwa is to unite will have to remain under President Sirisena’s command as the leader of the SLFP.

The former President has already openly stated that he has embarked on a different journey api venema gamanak aramba karalie thiyenne implying that the pohottuwa, under his de-facto leadership has come to stay and will be an entity separate from the SLFP. One has to give-in to the other if Jayasekera’s project is to work.

But will it work under the present scenario? To begin with, corruption cases against the Rajapaksa family members are now being pursued in earnest. The setting up of the special courts for the speedy disposal of cases involving serious acts of financial crime is a good indicator. Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera on Sunday listed out in detail the alleged corrupt acts of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, as Defence Secretary.

Will Mahinda Rajapaksa agree to play second fiddle to President Sirisena if the SLFP and pohottuwa unite as is the intention of Jayasekera? Equally, will President Sirisena agree to drop all the charges against the Rajapaksas in the quest for unity of both factions? For, Jayasekera can bet his last penny that the Rajapaksas will want their names cleared before agreeing to any such rapprochement.

President Sirisena is also on record saying that he would have been six feet under terra firma had the Presidential election results on January 8 been different, clearly implying that he would have been a goner had Mahinda Rajapaksa won the election. How will he (Sirisena) reconcile this just for the sake of unity? Or has Jayasekera got everything cut and dried for the grand union? Is he also of the opinion that Chandrika too will be amenable to this reunion and let bygones be bygones?

True, there are no permanent friends or permanent enemies in politics. They also say that politics is the art of the possible. Who would have ventured to suggest that CBK will one day join forces with Ranil Wickremesinghe to oust a Presidential candidate contesting from the very party her father founded.

But the odds here are heavily stacked against a makeup. For starters it is difficult to imagine either President Sirisena or Mahinda Rajapaksa to blink first. For there cannot be any reunion without either of them compromising. With Rajapaksa out of the equation in the Presidential bid it is next to impossible to imagine him working towards a Sirisena victory in 2020 - a man whom he accused of betraying him. Equally President Sirisena will not want to have any member of the Rajapaksa family close to him even in the remote possibility of unity, going by what he has already said about them with regard to his life. There can be no give and take under such a scenario.

Hence, Dayasiri Jayasekera’s dream of a SLFP, pohottuwa unity will remain just that. A dream.


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