Columns - 5thcolumn

Don’t be afraid! Smile until you look like a Cheshire cat!
By Rypvanwinkle

My Dear Nephew,

I thought I must write to you this week even though I am in the Land of No Return, not only because my 102nd birthday was being commemorated but also because people are still talking about me, the constitution I enacted and the plight of our party these ays.

Because of all this I am not sure whether I would be happy or sad, had I been there. It is true that I did many things for our country because of which you still benefit-such as launching the open economy and the Mahaveli programme, but it seems people only recall some of the other deeds during my rule-like that infamous referendum, for instance!

But mostly, people still talk about the Constitution I enacted. You know that I did so, thinking that it would be better to give absolute power to one individual so that he or she could develop the country, without being hindered by the pressures of Parliament, but unfortunately things have not quite worked out that way...

My successor was not quite popular because he was using the powers bestowed on him rather harshly and the lady who followed called my constitution a ‘bahubootha viyawasthawa’ but used it to the hilt, nevertheless. And her successor, a great champion of parliamentary democracy those days doesn’t even mention abolishing the Presidency now. So, I guess no matter what people say, I can be happy that my constitution has stood the test of time!

But, for all my achievements as a leader I was first and foremost a green party man and you must surely be concerned at what is going on in the green party where you are having a hard time fighting off people who want your job although the real problem appears to be that you are losing election after election.
I do remember the days when the greens were called the Uncle Nephew Party or the Unge Nedeyange Pakshaya but the latter tag, I daresay, is now more suited for the Blues! Unfortunately, our own party now deserves the label Unanduwak Nethi Pakshaya...I am not sure whether getting rid of you will solve all the problems of our party; in fact, it might even aggravate them because then everyone else will be scrambling for your job but you also have to learn a few things after all these years in politics...

I recognised early that I was not a great platform orator although I could of course have a distinguished gathering in stitches with my witty anecdotes. In my famous election campaign in ’77, I delivered short, crisp speeches while my then deputy tore into our opponents with his racy oratory.

And today, I think, you are much the same kind of speaker but you make the mistake of trying to speak too much and that too on abstract topics which have little interest for the average voter. I think you should speak less and smile more and leave the oratory to my deputy’s offspring who is fast becoming a chip of the old block!

The other issue is what you are telling the voter and I believe you are not telling them what they want to hear. The ‘patriot’ and his brothers are waging war-and what’s more they are doing a rather good job selling it to the voter. And in doing that, you are being portrayed as the man who gave up the war and handed over part of the country to the Tigers on a platter. Take my word, if you want to win any kind of election in the near future, the first thing you need to do is endorse the war effort wholeheartedly and forget about ceasefires!

But, don’t be disheartened at all these setbacks. I too had to face similar hurdles before I could take on the leadership of the country which I did when I was 71-so, you are still a kid by those standards and if you stay put, who knows, with a little bit of luck, you might still be able to make it to the top...

Yours truly,
Your loving uncle,
Junius Richard

PS-One of my greatest assets in the latter part of my political career was Anura whom I used to split the Blues. I know he is no more, but why don’t you use Mangala to do the same for you instead of trying to get him on to your side? But also beware because I think You-Know-Who is cleverly using Seeni Bola in much the same way I used Anura to split his party!

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