Columns - 5th column

Red split may spell danger or doom

By Rypvanwinkle

My Dear Somawansa,

I thought I must write to you because of recent happenings in your Red party which seems to have acquired the same illness that has afflicted the Greens for so long- that of dividing into two groups and then fighting with each other!

You know, Somawansa, many people in our country may not have agreed with your party' policies or how they have acted in the past, but in the past ten to fifteen years they have come to respect most of its politicians as being quite principled and clean -- compared to the Blues and the Greens, that is!
That in itself was a great achievement because many -- especially those of the older generation -- remember your party as being responsible for the massacre of thousands of youth by launching two insurgencies in the early seventies and late eighties.

I suppose, Somawansa, part of that credit must go to you because after running away to England to save your life while the rest of your sahodarayas died in the carnage, you did return to the country to not only take over the leadership of the party, but you also transformed it into what it is today.

Then, there are the other achievements that your party can be proud of. They include remaining within the democratic system for so long, supporting Mahinda maama's then unstable government to end the war and being consistently critical of corruption in successive governments, be it Blue or Green.

Of course you too had the occasional black sheep, like Wimal sahodaraya who, even when he was with you, used to live like a true capitalist, using mobile phones which were a hundred thousand rupees and sporting a hairstyle that would have made Ramzi proud.

But then, he went away, lured by Mahinda maama's charm and also being unable to resist the temptation of a cabinet portfolio, and I don't think your party really suffered as a result, even though he would then get on the Blue stage and hurl abuse at you in his racy style.

Then, when Wimal sahodaraya made a clown of himself by staging that upawaasey and ended up getting egg all over his face, you must have surely been relieved that he was on the other side and not with you, because he was then a political embarrassment to everyone, including Mahinda maama.

We know that the reds haven't been doing well lately, being reduced from nearly forty MPs in the previous Parliament to seven at the last general election, but you and your colleagues chose to bravely carry on the fight against the Blues, especially when the Greens were busy fighting each other.

Why, it was your protests that helped to stop the private sector pension scheme and that would have been a rude shock to the Blues who until then believed that they could, as JR once said, even turn a man into a woman, armed with their two-thirds majority and Mahinda maama's enormous popularity.

After all that, we are now being told that your party is being divided into two factions and that they are fighting to gain control of the party headquarters and the party newspaper and whatever else that you have -- just like the Greens who have been fighting for many months now for the party leadership.

But you must remember, Somawansa, that unlike the Greens who have a large vote base on which they always rely on, at the best of times you won about ten per cent of the vote -- and if you lose that, you would be yet another party where its entire membership can be accommodated in a three-wheeler!

This reminds me of what happened to the Old Left -- the Communists and Samasamajists -- after JR swept into power in '77. They disintegrated into several factions and all we have now are their name boards and a few ancient relics of the past such as Tissa and Vasudeva in largely ceremonial positions.
So, if you are not careful, Somawansa, your party might suffer the same fate. I don't believe that denying that there is a rift in your party and pretending that all is well will solve the problems in your party. Even the Greens, stupid as they are these days, haven't resorted to such tactics!

The other danger is that one of your factions might go underground once again and resort to seeking power through the 'galkatas' and a revolution. We have just ended a bloody war after thirty years and we don't want another insurgency on our hands right now, do we?

So, I sincerely hope that you will be able to sort out your differences in a safe and sensible way. To lose one opposition party may seem like a misfortune but to lose both opposition parties because of internal conflicts will be a downright disaster for our country, and we don't want that, do we?

Yours truly,
Punchi Putha

PS-And guess who will be laughing all the way to the polling booths on the eighth of October? Mahinda maama, of course. He won the war and then won the two elections that followed, the Greens are split right down the middle and now you are divided as well. You have got to admit it, Somawansa, he has got the Midas touch when it comes to politics, hasn't he?

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