President Mahinda Rajapaksa has silenced his critics both here and abroad by scoring a spectacular win at Thursday`s parliamentary polls. By giving him a huge majority, the people have reaffirmed their verdict at the presidential election in January.
It is unfortunate that the final result could not be announced owing to the annulment of polling in some areas affected by violence, in Nawalapitiya and Trincomalee. President Rajapaksa must ensure that the culprits, one of whom is believed to be a minister, are brought to justice immediately.
When President Mahinda Rajapaksa decided to hold a snap presidential election before parliamentary polls, some political analysts questioned his wisdom. But, he is a political risk taker and his gamble has worked. But for that bold decision, the results of Thursday`s polls would have been different. After his impressive win in January, the UPFA`s victory in April was a foregone conclusion. It only had to do mopping up operations, as it were, at the subsequent election.
Having given President Rajapaksa a second term, the people were obviously wary of voting either the UNF or the DNA to power as they did not want a parliament hostile to the President like in the 2001-2004 period, when the UNF government and President Chandrika Kumaratunga were at daggers drawn. The latter sacked the former in 2004.
With political enemies like JVP Chief Somawansa Amarasinghe and UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, President Rajapaksa needs no friends! It is, in fact, they who help him win elections. By contracting the former army chief Gen. Sarath Fonseka to stand for presidency, they proved that they were two leaders not worth their salt.
The UNP has lost a sizable chunk of its vote bank to the DNA led by Gen. Sarath Fonseka as evident from the defeat of its Galle District Leader Vajira Abeywardene. It was at the expense of the UNP that the JVP bagged one seat in that district.
The UNP`s strength has been greatly reduced. Ranil ought to admit that his party is faced with a serious problem and that it needs to be solved. So long as he tries to wish it away and trots out lame excuses to save face, the UNP is going to suffer and remain in the Opposition till kingdom come. If he thinks all that he has to do to become President in seven years is to stay put as UNP and Opposition Leader, he is mistaken.
The election of UNP Moneragala District Leader Ranjith Maddumabandara is an indictment on the UNP Leader, who asked UNPers in that district in no uncertain terms not to vote for him as he had allegedly deleted the name of another candidate from the UNP nomination list. Their defiance of the UNP leader s order smacks of a revolt of sorts at the grassroots.
The JVP, which tried to oust President Rajapaksa and dislodge his government with the help of the ex-army commander has lost (according to results so far declared) about 34 of 39 seats it had in the last Parliament.
The JVP has also lost its base in the rural sector which used to be its stronghold. In the late 1980s, the outfit coined a brilliant slogan which attracted tens of thousands of youth to its cause: Kolombata kiri, gamata kekiri (Milk for Colombo and melon for the village). It famously claimed that in 1948, the Royal College had gained freedom, in 1956 the Ananda College had been given freedom and its struggle was to help the Weeraketiya Central College win freedom. (The three schools, according to the JVP, represent the Colombo elite, the Sri Lankan middle class and the rural folk respectively.) Is it because the Rajapaksas have developed Hambantota and liberated the Weeraketiya Central that the JVP has lost support in the rural backwaters? It failed to secure even a single seat in Hambantota!
It was Sun Tzu of the The Art of War fame who said: If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.
The UNP leader does not know either his enemy or himself. Hence, he succumbs in every battle on the political front. So does his JVP counterpart! They have not so far been able to tap President Rajapaksa s huge support base in the rural sector where nearly 80 per cent of Sri Lankans live.
Meanwhile, winning elections is one thing and living up to people s expectations is quite another as we argued the other day. Now that there is no war, the new government will have to deliver on its promises. It is in their second terms that all Presidents succumb to arrogance of power and their governments become unpopular.