Tissa and Grand Alliance | Daily News

Tissa and Grand Alliance

Former UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake, now in the political wilderness, after ditching the party to join Mahinda Rajapaksa in the latter's failed Presidential bid, from time to time emerges out of his hibernation to take pot shots at his former leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, the UNP and the Yayapalanaya Government in general. Soon after the defeat of Rajapaksa, Attanayake went ‘underground’ only to resurface sporadically such as at the famous Nugegoda rally held to herald the Bring Back Mahinda campaign, and, more recently, in the aftermath of the local government polls defeat of the government. At all occasions Attanayake never failed to bring down the party of which he was once General Secretary, in the eyes of the public, while underscoring the need for a change of leadership in order to reverse the fortunes of the party.

Now Attanayake has gone one better. According to a vernacular daily, the former UNP Genereal Secretary has set his sights on forming a Grand Alliance for the sole purpose of accommodating all ‘disgruntled’ UNPers in the current dispensation and among the grassroots supporters, for the purpose of contesting future elections. In his estimation, some 40% of all UNPers, among the grassroots, are in utter despair over the conduct of the party leadership resulting in, in his view, the sorry pass the party had plunged into. In addition, he says, those voters who broke party ranks and voted for the Common Candidate too were disgusted at the current state of affairs. Hence, Attanayake, in the role of the Messiah, is planning to deliver, not only all disgruntled UNPers from the clutches of a ‘dictatorial leader’, but also others who have felt letdown by the Yahapalanaya, to the promised land.

It is noteworthy here to take cognizance of the fact that Attanayake did not see anything wrong with his party leader when he quit the UNP as its General Secretary to join Rajapaksa on the eve of the last Presidential Election. On the contrary, his loyalty to the leader was expressed in unequivocal terms even on the day of his parting. His stated reasons for quitting was attributed to a clique that had formed within Sirikotha to undermine his authority as party General Secretary and make him feel unwanted.

Assuming his reasons were true, then this so called clique was justified in demanding his ouster. This is because when he was UNP General Secretary, the party suffered defeat after defeat, beginning from 2005. The tide turned only after his exit in November 2014 to join the Rajapaksa camp. Hence, Attanayake was the Jonah of the UNP all those years and it was left to Kabir Hashim, who took over the mantle, to reverse the fortunes of the party.

Surely Attanayake cannot seriously believe that his attempt to rally ‘disgruntled’ UNPers by providing them with a new haven is going to damage the party to any degree. Maverick politician Maithri Gunaratne also broke ranks with the UNP with the sole purpose of offering a sanctuary to disillusioned UNPers. Unlike Tissa Attanayake, who only makes rare TV appearances, Gunaratne's was almost a daily presence on private TV channels, during the recent local government election campaign, attacking the leader and urging grassroots UNPers to vote for his breakaway party to usher in a new-look UNP. The UNPers gave him a fitting reply, going by the results of the poll, where his outfit was right at the bottom of the also-rans, so to speak.

This indeed tells a tale. No genuine UNPer would quit the parent party to join breakaway outfits formed by individuals out of pique with the leadership. Ask Rukman Senanayake. The scion of the Senanayake family broke ranks with JRJ, due to serious personal differences, to form the Eksath Lanka Janatha Party (ELJP). The party, needless to say, was confined to a mere name-board, making no electoral impact whatsoever. Similarly, Sinhala cinema's superstar Vijaya Kumaratunga quit the SLFP with wife Chandrika to form the Sri Lanka Mahajana Pakshaya (SLMP) which turned out to be another misadventure. The Lalith-Gamini duo also suffered a similar fate, their Rajaliya Party failing to make any headway despite the unpopularity of the UNP government at the time. Only Mahinda Rajapaksa, out of the lot, was able to break the mold (at the recent LG election), but he, by no means, left the SLFP/UPFA, unlike the above mentioned, but only presented himself as representing the so-called “true SLFP”, which may have accounted for the SLFPers voting for the pohottuwa en-masse.

The names mentioned above were political heavyweights and Tissa Attanayake, by no stretch of the imagination, can find common ground with these stalwarts, and, like Maithri Gunaratne, will be a poor also- ran at the hustings. This, the former UNP General Secretary is fully aware of, and, hence, has obviously undertaken a contract from the Rajapaksas to use the new party (Grand Alliance) as a platform to attack the UNP leader, and, also the President, with the hope that the fallout would bring whatever votes the nominee of the pohottuwa could collect at the Presidential Election.

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