Victory has a thousand fathers and defeat is an orphan, it is said. If the UNP had won the April 8 parliamentary election, there would have been more than one thousand people to claim the credit for it. But, today, all of them have denied paternity of the unwanted child, Debacle, whom they have left at their leader s doorstep.
UNP strongman and MP Ravi Karunanayake has, as we reported yesterday, said that changes within UNP should begin at the regional level. Various remedies are being prescribed and administered for the UNP s ills. But, unfortunately none of the self-appointed physicians, who should heal themselves first of all, have been able to diagnose the disease. One of them has said the UNP should have a leader like President Mahinda Rajapaksa. If wishes were horses, beggars would fly them! The only way for the UNP to have someone like President Rajapaksa as its leader is to clone him!
What is the UNP s real problem? Is it Ranil? He is only one of the many problems that the party is faced with. Those who are all out to smoke him out are also responsible for the party s present predicament. They cannot get away with their sins by making a sacrificial lamb of Ranil. The UNP s biggest problem is neither Ranil nor any other UNPer. It is Mahinda! Today, Mahinda is the UPFA and the UPFA Mahinda and he is on a winning streak. Even if Ranil were to be removed and replaced with someone else aspiring to leadership, it would still not be possible to turn the UNP around.
Ranil has come under fire for not restoring intraparty democracy. It is his own lookout and he indeed deserves to be hauled over the coals for that. The UNP needs reforms and the party s decision making process should be democratised. But, that alone will not help the UNP turn the tables on the UPFA. The UNP is like a vehicle that has broken down on the wrong way. Repairs it certainly needs but it has to change course.
What the UNP is experiencing at present is a political tsunami, as it were, and the only thing its leaders could and should do is to tuck up their sarongs and hook it carrying Ranil with them. There is nothing they can do in the short run.
What would happen to the UNP, if Ranil were to be removed?
We usually do not have anything kind to say about Ranil. But, it needs to be stressed that under the present circumstances he alone is capable of holding the UNP together and his removal/resignation will cause that party to go into a tailspin with different factions already at daggers drawn going for each other s jugular. Their clashes will debilitate the party further and leave room for it to be even infiltrated by external forces waiting in the wings. Whenever either the UNP or the SLFP is rendered too impotent to play its role as the main Opposition party, ultra radical elements with anarchical agendas raise their head, as was our experience in 1971 and in the late 1980s. The JVP plunged the country into a bloodbath.
In 2004, the enervation of the UNP and the SLFP as the ruling party and the main Opposition party respectively led to the emergence of the JVP as a formidable political force with 36 out of its 39 candidates on the UPFA ticket being returned with three National List seats to boot at the general election in that year. The question that should be posed to the UNP stalwarts baying for Ranil s blood is whether they want their party to be swallowed by some Pied Pipers masquerading as messiahs.
There is hardly anything that the UNP can do to win an election in the foreseeable future, given its costly blunders during the past few years and the phenomenal resurgence of nationalism that powers the Rajapaksa government. All UNP leaders at loggerheads should take the blame for the party s downfall without making a scapegoat of Ranil. If they really want to reach out to the ordinary masses who alone are capable of making them win, they must stop turning somersaults like a gypsy s monkey before the international community and adopt a pro-Sri Lankan agenda, maybe a copycat version of Mahinda Chintanaya.
The warring UNP top guns should desist from turning their Grand Old Party into an anthill and run the risk of venomous snakes creeping into it.