Let’s face it. The curtain has fallen on the coalition road show. And no public encores echo in the mountains and resound in the valleys demanding it be raised again. That it be lifted to make the two main actors take their curtain calls and make repeated bows before an unappreciative and thoroughly disgusted audience, [...]


How many slaps must Ranil take before he walks alone to triumph?

ALAS! THE FIRST AND LAST SEASON OF M AND R’S PUNCH AND JUDY SHOW - Even as coalition road show comes to a dead-end with no encores in the offing, only way out for the UNP is to say ‘come or go Colombo, we go solo’

Let’s face it. The curtain has fallen on the coalition road show. And no public encores echo in the mountains and resound in the valleys demanding it be raised again. That it be lifted to make the two main actors take their curtain calls and make repeated bows before an unappreciative and thoroughly disgusted audience, appalled with their pathetic performances.

Ranil made a mess playing Hamlet, allowed the bond scam play to be used by his foes to be the thing to stain the character of a king. Maithri played a dual role as Othello, sheathing his sword seeking peace with his foes and jealously snuffing out the light of his friends, knowing only at the end of the tragedy that he had not realised the value of the pearl good fortune had thrown to him.

But now it’s all water under the bridge and nothing can reverse the tide. The coalition government, to all sense and purpose is dead: Dead as a doornail. And the cause of death: The Government did not govern but instead allowed the Joint Opposition to dictate the terms. These last three years saw the sorry spectacle of the coalition government not proactive but merely reactive. And even though as pictures show the President thumping the rabana on New Year’s day at his presidential home, both he and Ranil failed to realise that they had been dancing to the thumping beat of a distant drum played at Meda… by a master drummer.
The continuing tragedy is that the coalition seems not to have realised that the last breath has long fled from its corpus and only the last rites to formally bury the carcass still remain. Instead, they seem busy drafting a new Memorandum of Understanding in a desperate bid to resurrect the un-revivable.

Last Sunday UNP Minister Lakshman Kiriella said, “The UNP and the SLFP would enter into a new partnership, after President Maithripala Sirisena’s return from London. The new pact would give priority to the Government’s development plans for the next two years and set out the guidelines under which the two parties would work together, without having to encounter problems, such as the ones witnessed in the recent past.”

THE CAKEWALK, NOT THE CORRUPTION CRACKDOWN: The Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, holidaying in Nuwara Eliya uses the sword to cut the longest potato cake made at the Nuwara Eliya Grand Hotel

“A committee,” he said, headed by Special Assignments Minister Sarath Amunugama, appointed by the President had been tasked with drafting the new agreement.And when newsmen asked whether the national unity government would continue, Kiriella said: “Yes. What the Amunugama Committee would do is outline the ground rules which the UNP and the SLFP, will be required to follow.”

In politics, as in life, the only ground rule that exists is self interest. So how will the interest of the UNP be served by repeating the folly? By hailing the British axiomatic ‘the king is dead, long live the king’?

Whilst the rumour mill is busy grinding out the gristle that on May 8th when the President reconvenes the prorogued Parliament — sorry for the digression but don’t you think pro rouged Parliament is an ideal description of the House in today’s corrupt context — and delivers his throne speech, it will be taken up and put to debate and vote and will be defeated, resulting in empowering the President to dissolve his entire cabinet and appoint a fresh one with a new prime minister, what do you suppose the present incumbent of that prime ministerial office be planning out now?

This Sunday morn, after having breathed the invigorating mountain air of Nuwara Eliya’s splendorous climes taking a well earned Avurudu break with his wife Maithree and dog Brandy, does the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, though back at Fifth Lane sea level , realise he is still atop Piduruthalagala’s peak? At least for the moment. Holding all the cards in his hand. Which he must play now, lest the gust of winds that howl around him, sweep it off his hands.

For better or worse, in riches or in poverty, in health or in sickness, the time has come for the UNP to break its vows – justified in the face of betrayal of vows sworn three years ago in twilight whilst the nation awaited the dawn. The time has come for Ranil to lead the UNP flock to the promised land, this time alone. The time has come for the parting of the ways with the SLFP in order to part the waves to cross through to that promised land. To walk away with dignity, with held high, not booted out ignominiously by a leadership that has long lost its credibility.

From the mythical Mount Kailas abode where Lord Shiva, the Destroyer in the Hindu Triumvirate of Gods, is said to reside in meditation – the other two being Brahma the Creator and Vishnu the Preserver – Ranil Wickremesinghe, standing as he is now on his mystical Piduruthalagala peak, must first destroy the bonds of friendship with the SLFP, create anew the United National Party in order to preserve the democratic way of life Lankans have been fortunate enough to know for these last seventy years of independence, give or take a few mishaps.

As he views the valleys below him, he surely must see the opposition in turmoil: The main SLFP led by President Maithripala Sirisena, drawn and quartered. The split away group headed by GL Peiris but ghost led by Mahinda Rajapaksa, licking and nursing its wounds having failed in their no-confidence bid to oust him. Sirisena left on the rack, with sixteen of his remaining members having one foot in the Rajapaksa camp and the other in the sinking SLFP sand, whilst Ranil’s UNP demonstrated, in no uncertain terms on April 4th that his party, whatever differences they have, is solidly behind him at a time of crisis.

Heaven does not bestow such good fortunes upon one so easily even as one’s Karma only pays a fleeting visit. Then it’s free will that dominates and forges present plight to success. Opportunity does not knock twice. For Ranil it’s now or never. Or he is a goner.

Parliament itself is on its last legs. Left with only a two year breathing space. If Ranil harbours ambition of being a candidate or believes that station must belong to someone else from his own party, it’s time to act now. If he acts like the vacillating moon, like Hamlet did in his procrastinations, he would end up eclipsed. This time permanently.

What if the President should appoint a new government made up of SLFP ministers and appoint Siripala or some other joker as Prime Minister? Let him. And watch his frustration in some sort of morbid glee, when Sirisena finds to his dismay no simple bill can be passed without the support Ranil commands in the House. Not even the all-important budget, come this November.

Ranil Wickremesinghe, even though he may not realise it, has become the banker in the political Baccarat played in Colombo’s casinos. If he does not play his cards correct and use his Baccarat coup to win his game, he, too, like the President, will be left holding the joker in the pack.

Will the milk ever boil to the brim for Maithri
The date: Avurudu Morn, April 14th. The place: President’s House. Together with the rest of Sri Lanka, First Lady Jayanthi Sirisena lights the family hearth at 10.42 am sharp. She’s surrounded by her loved ones. The nation’s First Family is starring in a scene that is being enacted, at that precise moment in time, in millions of homes throughout the countryside.Her husband, President Maithripala Sirisena, standing behind her, keeps close watch over the ceremony, anxiously waiting for the milk to boil to the brim without a crack in the milk pot. Fretfully waiting for it to spill over and to flow in torrents of prosperity to his own presidential household and trickle, even in dribbles, into every humble hamlet home in the nation. And as he waits, with suspended breath, for the milk to rise what do you suppose his thoughts are?What’s on his mind as he nervously waits for the milk of his hopes to stir to life? What’s he brooding over before the pregnant pot in heat gushes and delivers prosperity’s milk?

WHAT’S ON A MAN’S MIND: As the Nation’s First Lady kindles the hearth, WhatsApp and tweeting on Maithri’s mind?

Is he thinking of the economic crisis that has beset the terminally ill nation and wondering whether his newly appointed economic committee can turn the tide and wreak a miracle within two years?

Is he thinking of the promise he pledged to the nation in the run-up to the presidential election in 2015 on every political platform he spoke that he will bring the Rajapaksa regime rogues to justice; and is he lamenting on his disastrous failure to keep his solemn word of honour?

Is he ruminating on his gross failure to raise his presidential sword as he declared he would, just two full moons ago, and regretting having sheathed it for fear the Rajapaksa spittle would rust it? And regretting dragging his feet for these last three years, for his crusade to begin only at the eleventh hour?

Is he thinking of his failure to deliver the 2015 mandate extended by the people to establish a Yahapalana government; of placing in peril the continued existence until 2020 of the coalition government by not urging, nay, by not insisting that the SLFP members under his command vote against the no–confidence motion against Ranil Wickremesinghe earlier this month? For displaying his weakness as a leader and giving free rein to his flock to roam as they jolly well please and to even jump over the brink with scant regard to the necessity, in the nation’s interest, of having a stable government in office to ensure the island’s prosperity?
Anointed shepherd as he is, is he thinking of the folly of counting the Rajapaksa sheep instead of looking after his own, even though many of his own were well known to be wolves wrapped in wool?

And even as the kindled fire in the hearth crackles and burns even stronger to spur the milk to rise to the pot’s brim, is he, in his heart of hearts, admiring Mahinda Rajapaksa for his uncanny genius to not only keep his flock together but poach both rams and ewes from the other side of the fence, where they were pleasantly grazing, where the grass was green under an azure blue sky? For keeping his sheep firmly locked in his pen and repeatedly bleat the Rajapaksa name when Mahinda, having lost his sceptre and throne, has no perks or privileges to offer them but only a mat to sleep on in some solitary Welikada prison cell and wistfully dream of his third advent?

Are his Avurudu thoughts embroiled in remorse, as he surely must grievously feel for not backing his own prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe earlier this month when it mattered most and the coalition government’s future was to be burnt at the stake? When he, instead, washed his hands of, like Pontius Pilate did, and cast Ranil to the mercy of the mob to crucify him on the cross of corruption the Joint Opposition had hastily erected to hide their own corruption cross and delay their day of judgment in court?

As he watches the milk in his presidential pot rise, is the echo ringing in his stereophonic ears of all the platitudes of gratitude he heaped upon Ranil Wickremesinghe without whose UNP support he would still have been crunching crumbs of hopper crusts insolently thrown from Mahinda’s high table?
Or, even as the randy milk heated by the howling flames of fire stirs to life and begins rising to a crescendo; even as those standing guard in voyeuristic fascination around the little pot of hope await it to spurt, spout and climax and squirt prosperity on the presidential household floor, is he dreaming of the gleaming prospect of meeting the Queen of England on his visit to the British Isles to attend the Commonwealth Heads of State summit presently being held there

And wondering whether he will be accorded the same honour and rare privilege of having a private audience with Queen Elizabeth II and be given a cup of Ceylon Tea in her private chambers as he was given with colonial condescension when he visited London shortly after having won the presidential election in 2015; and the royal red carpet was rolled out for him in all honour? Ah, he must reminisce, what a rosy hued dawn it had been then, flushed with triumph. Till the rainbow lit sky had suddenly been enveloped by the Rajapaksa fog – a fog neither heaven or earth could banish – a rich dark fog that refused to move away and even today, stays put to cast its gloom on the sorry landscape of this paradise isle.

A penny for his thoughts and a pound for your guesses.
But even as the milk in his Avurudu pot dances in bubbles and goes over the top doing the Sinhala salsa and spills over to the ground – a traditional symbol of prosperity but more a realistic sign of utter waste – he must also be pondering, watching the milk meaninglessly slithering to the floor; and, whilst giving ear to the growing applause of those around him as more and more milk is wantonly made to flow for sport – for that’s another Sinhala trait: the more waste, the more the cheer and clap – that the pot that runneth over is also symbolic of how he had squandered the goodwill and trust thrust upon him that January 9th when he took his oaths at Independence Square in twilight hour and swore to discharge the mandate given unto him by the people.
The question that must trouble him most, is whether the milk will ever boil to the brim for him, come twenty twenty polls?

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