Over 7,000 persons are engaged in an unseemly scramble for power whereas only 225 of them will succeed in entering Parliament. Ask them why they are killing themselves in a desperate bid to get elected and they will tell you they want to serve us. There are zillions of posters and cut-out all over the country with grinning mugs of politicos who want to be our servants and to turn this land into Shangri-la . They cannot fool the discerning masses.
On Tuesday, even the worst suckers among us may have realised why so many politicians were fighting for slots in the national legislature. Although parliament stands dissolved it had to be reconvened on that day to pass the Emergency. And that session cost the country a fortune! Parliament is scheduled to meet again on April 06 for the same purpose and as a result all the MPs are now entitled to their salaries and perks for the months of March and April as well! On March 09, 108 MPs did not attend the sittings because they were busy electioneering. They, too, would be given their salaries and perks!
How on earth could anyone be paid for his or her absence? Minister of Labour Mervyn Silva, in spite of being what he is, proposed that all MPs forgo their salaries and perks as Parliament had met only once. We usually have nothing kind to say about him but on this score we grant that he deserves praise. However, simply because of that proposal and his willingness to forgo pay for two months, he does not become anyone`s hero. He has a long way to go to achieve that status.
The special parliamentary session came to MPs as a drizzle to starved leeches in suspended animation on a parched land. On April 06, they will have another mizzle and after April 08 it will be like monsoon rains for the political leeches to be elected. They will be ladling out public funds to themselves with gay abandon.
This time around even the JVP, which pontificates to others on morality and fiduciary duties and is, in fact, far better than the SLFP and the UNP as regards the management of public finances, has failed to live up to public expectations. Someone called us yesterday and praised the JVP to high heaven as its National List MP and Deputy Chairman of Committees Ramalingam Chandrasekaran, had returned his official vehicles after the dissolution of Parliament. But, our inquiries from the authorities concerned revealed that he had taken back three of the five vehicles returned! Those vehicles will surely be used for electioneering before being handed over. Abuse of State property, eh?
The dissolution of Parliament does not seem to have affected the government in any way. For, almost all its MPs are ministers. They will continue to abuse, with impunity, not only their vehicles but also their positions to win the upcoming election. Strangely, the government and the Opposition usually at daggers drawn have no quarrels on the question of salaries and perks of MPs. They join forces to feather their nests at our expense. No wonder that some politicians are showering election bribes such as rice and mobile phones on the electorate in a bid to get elected.
As for parliament and the benefits that accrue to MPs from their privileged position, cynics say, `Manthrilata kaar, henchaiyanta baar, janathavata soor` (Cars for MPs, liquor bars for their henchmen and intoxication for the public.) How true!