UNF turns tables on the PA and lame-duck President
The UNP's massive vote for peace has the opposition in a tizzy. But the
only escape route the opposition seems to be having at the moment is to
question the legitimacy of the UNF government.
To this end, the JVP and PA are making a rather ludicrous display. It's
pathetic because half the PA wants
to join the government.
But the obduracy of the PA and the JVP is such that it is sure to be
counter productive to the two parties at least in the short term. Chandrika
Bandaranaike and the JVP are in a moribund embrace.
The UNF's peace efforts are another matter - but the fact remains that
the party has managed to win the confidence of the people. In these circumstances,
the wise thing for the opposition would be to offer the UNF a breather.
But, the Chandrika doctrine is now being stood on its head. Chandrika
Kumaratunga lives by rumour and intrigue, but the canards she is spreading
now on the UNF are seen to boomerang on her with rapid velocity.
This column has no intention of being oracle, but there is all possibility
that Chadrika Kumaratunga will be politically considered a liability of
the electorate at the rate she is being disruptive. The duty of the opposition
is to oppose, but to creating roadblocks for petty purposes is not sanctioned
in any book on parliamentary democracy.
In short, Chandrika Kumaratunga is Ranil Wickremesinghe's best ticket
to popularity and a long political life. Strange considering that Ranil
Wickremesinghe some time back had only himself to blame for the UNP's political
But the pendulum has swung back with vehemence. The local poll result
is one sign, but the fortunes of the PA cannot be resurrected for a long
time to come, and this is what is making the PA think-tanks want to commit
In the process, the PA is losing all its political instinct. The PA
is becoming the party that's losing all its moorings both nationally and
internationally. Internationally, it is becoming a pariah in the eyes of
the not very trustworthy Western liberal intellectual leaders.
But that would have been tolerable, if the PA was also not losing vast
repositories public faith and confidence reposed in it. For being ineffectual,
the PA is also losing the loyalty of those who are against the current
UNF led peace process.
They see the PA as public enemy, not just because Chandrika launched
the peace process, but because the party is seen to be prevaricating too
much on the issue. This the PA necessarily has to do if it is to survive
politically. There is no way that the President can Veto the peace process.
But the Sinhala lobby acts as if she can do it — but is somehow too
weak and unwilling. You could say she is damned if she does and damned
if she doesn't , but the fact is that the President could have taken a
political breather, and stayed aloof of all current political developments,
thus enabling her to come out of these recent scrapes with at least some
measure of her dignity intact.
But the President knows not the art of the breather. If she was a rugby
center forward, she would have hogged the shows at lemons. Perhaps the
rugger analogy is not apt, but perhaps it is close, considering that the
political situation that the PA is in now is like a rugger scrum gone mad.
Mr. Wickremesinghe went out to win the elections. But because of Chandrika
Kumaratunga, he may now even end up winning on the peace score – at least
because the antipathy towards Kumaratunga is such that the LTTE would see
nothing better than to see her licking her wounds. For Kumaratunga, that
will be a fate worse than death by assassination.