The so-called manape pore or intra party clashes over preferential votes, has taken a turn for the worse. Not a single day passes without many `home and home` battles reported from different parts of the country besides clashes among candidates of rival parties. Only the JVP is free from manape pore because its candidates promote the party and not themselves at elections and settle for whatever they get by way of preferences. Their example is worthy of emulation by one and all.
The manape war is a telling indictment on party leaders. It is tantamount to their shameful failure to maintain party discipline. For the preferential vote battles being fought fiercely in the UPFA, President Mahinda Rajapaksa must take the full blame and the UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe should be held responsible for the manape war within his party. A leader worth his salt must be able to put his foot down and tell his candidates to behave.
President Rajapaksa has told the UPFA candidates engaged in a free-for-all over preferential votes that even if they win, they will have to forgo positions in the next government he is planning to form. This, we believe, is not the ideal approach to the problem. He should be able to put an end to intra party clashes instead of issuing warnings. After all, he is the Commander-in-Chief who finished terrorism. However, if he really means what he says and is determined to translate his warning into action, then he can rest assured that in the event of the UPFA`s victory on April 8, he will have a very small Cabinet. For, only a handful of the ruling party candidates are conducting decent election campaigns without violating either party discipline or election laws.
What about the UPFA candidates who flout the election laws in defiance of the police and the Elections Commissioner? Massive cut-outs and posters of some UPFA potentates have become an eyesore at every nook and corner of the country as if to mock IGP Mahinda Balasuriya and his personnel tasked with removing unauthorised propaganda material. There are reports of attacks by UPFA candidates and their backers on their rivals in the fray. State property is being grossly abused for electioneering purposes. The police have been reduced to a group of spectators and they cannot say boo to a goose. A wag says the police who baton charge Opposition demonstrators with a generous hand salute not only the ruling party candidates but also ordinary betel chewers, the betel leaf being the UPFA symbol!
If a candidate who violates party discipline by engaging in manape pore is unfit, in the President`s book, for being appointed a minister or a deputy minister, he or she must be deemed disqualified to be a parliamentarian if he or she gets returned by violating election laws.
The responsibility for weeding out misfits in the parliamentary race lies not only with political party leaders but also with the voting public. A popular politician told us the other day off the record that there was no point in cursing politicians for having ruined the country because all the bad governments had been, by and large, popularly elected. In other words, what he said was that the people deserved the governments they got.
Therefore, it is up to the people to vote wisely without expecting political leaders to deal with the errant candidates after their election. People usually tend to vote for the political parties they have backed traditionally but they are capable of making a difference in politics without shifting their allegiance. Whichever party they may vote for, they ought to cast their preferential votes only for the decent candidates in the fray and help them win.