The Beddagana Sanjeeva killing and the arrest of Reggie
Ranatunga, the PA strongman and ex-Minister from Gampaha indicate that
the poll is going the way that's most dreaded. The war of words is now
turning into a war of arms. Police has reported round 500 cases of election
violence, almost a month to go till polling day December 5th.
That seems to be just the tip of the iceberg as far as the bloodletting
to come is concerned. The LTTE is said to be unloading equipment and arms
on the beaches of the North and East, preparing for a major assault while
the country is distracted by elections.
It could be argued by the sceptic that all this is not peculiar to Sri
Lanka, which is a country almost inured to violence. But, if elections
which are now becoming annual events almost, trigger off a bout of violence
each time — it's an ill portend for a society that already seems ungovernable
The Sanjeeva killing and the Ranatunga arrest are all a bad omen, but
by the time this election is done with, there could be occurrences that
would further tarnish people's faith in democracy, rule of law and the
sanctity of adult franchise.
These already seem utopian ideals anyway for a society that is used
to guns and bombs more than ballots, but the problem is that there is no
defence mechanism whatsoever against each repeat bout of election related
Suicide bombings that take place almost in the peripheries of society
are in the meanwhile indication of the fact that the LTTE, too, is campaigning
in these polls. Whose side they are on has been an issue at the last elections,
but what's certain is that they are not on the side of the Sri Lankan nation.
The LTTE has repeatedly shown that organizationally, it is averse to
the feeling of being left out. Yes, the LTTE is campaigning, virulently,
to secede from the Sri Lankan state.
But, yes also, the LTTE seems almost pathologically against the idea
of being marginalised from the affairs of the Sri Lankan state. The perverse
could theorize that this is the surest sign that the LTTE is, after all,
part and parcel of the Sri Lankan polity.
But, the truth seems to bear out that the LTTE has anything but the
Sri Lankan polity on its mind when it wreaks havoc during election time
But, the LTTE's foray into the political whirl, whenever there is a
poll is a pointer to the supreme folly that seems to consume mainstream
Sri Lankan politics. This is the inability of the major players to grasp
the fact that the enemy is the ultimate winner in the internecine battles
that are fought for political supremacy at the centre.
These internecine battles so far were of a constitutional character
— though the term is used rather sheepishly, considering the kind of political
skullduggery practiced within those so-called constitutional parameters.
Now the battle is getting almost truer to form.
The mainstream political players seem also to be convinced about some
invincibility despite the repeated assaults on the state by the LTTE. It's
like the cat that had the nine lives.
But, it's this sense of misplaced resilience that seems to cap the core
characteristic of the Sri Lankan politician — which is his ignorance of
the real dangers that surround him. The leadership can commit hara-kiri
for all it wants; but it is sad that the nation has to be dragged kicking
and screaming as well.