Columns - 5th column

The young man in a hurry: Who is he, what’s he doing?

By Rypvanwinkle

My Dear President Premadasa,

I thought I must write to you this week even though you departed to the Land of Never Return some nineteen years ago because you were in the news this week, probably more so than any person who is still among the living.

That was because your son had organised a ceremony to commemorate you on the occasion of your death anniversary. We can hardly blame you for the anniversary falling on May Day but that appears to have been a co-incidence that has not gone unnoticed.

Your son, the man in a hurry that he is, insisted on organising ceremonies in Colombo and again, we can hardly blame him for that. But that meant that he would not be able to attend the Green May Day rally in Jaffna. To say the least, that was very convenient.

Now, I can't imagine why the Greens would want to have their May Day in Jaffna when they need to win back the votes in the South that they have lost but that was the decision of the party's boss who didn't want to reconsider his choice, being the very stubborn chap that he is.

What we saw next was a procession of people carrying placards with your picture — a picture that has not been seen on the streets for many years — marching towards Hulftsdorp and that is what puzzles me. Now, why would people commemorating the passing away of someone, march in a procession?

We have seen the anniversary of your passing commemorated before in a very dignified way without any organised processions. So, to have processions all of a sudden can only mean that someone is trying to gain some political mileage out of it — and we all know who that is!

Of course this wouldn't be the first time that someone used a family member's death to their political advantage in our country — Dudley did it first, Sirima followed suit and more recently, even Chandrika used Vijaya's death to make a name for herself.

But to do so after nearly twenty years after a person has passed away is something new. So, those who are doing it are either extremely innovative or extremely politically bankrupt and we are still trying to figure out which is more appropriate.

But what we do know is that had you been amongst us, you wouldn't have approved of what happened on May Day. You were a man of action and you always got the job done. Most of the time, you often did things yourself. That is what people remember you for.

For some reason, your young man in a hurry appears to be always using someone else for his purposes. First, he used that genial but gullible gentleman, Karu, to run against the leader of the Greens. Now, he is using your track record to boost his own standing. These are not promising signs.

After all, you more than anyone else know what it is like to fight against an established order and win. After being branded the 'Uncle Nephew Party' for over forty years, you were its first leader to emerge from the grassroots and reach the top of the party. And you had to fight all the way to the top.

We remember how you clashed with your one time political 'guru' Dudley, and went on to form a 'Puravesi Peramuna' of your own. When Dudley died and you came for his funeral, you were jeered at, but you soon realised your folly and returned to the fold to resurrect the Greens with JR.

And even after the Greens won and JR gave you the next best job, you had challengers like Lalith and Gamini constantly yapping at your heels. And they didn't stop doing that even after you reached the top either, because they tried to impeach you.

What your young man in a hurry doesn't seem to realise is that through all this, you didn't go around dividing the Greens. Even when you had differences, you briefly had an organisation of your own but once you were back in the Greens, you were always uniting — and not dividing — the Greens.

Now, I'm not for a moment saying that all what the Leader of the Greens is doing is right and that your young man in a hurry should follow him blindly. But, by taking his squabble with the leader to extreme lengths, he is only dividing the Greens some more.

Your young man in a hurry is not helped by those around him because they all seem to have an axe to grind against the Leader — and they also seem to think that simply by getting rid of him, they can return to power at the press of a button!

We hope your young man in a hurry has inherited from you some of the courage, patience and determination that you displayed in your long political career. And we also hope he will mature enough to become his own man, instead of constantly referring to himself as your son!

Yours truly,
Punchi Putha.

PS: We remember how you captured the imagination of the people by launching a poster campaign saying 'Me Kawda, Mokada Karanne'. As for your young man in a hurry, we all know the answer to the first question but at the moment, the answer to the second question is 'UNP eka dekata bedanney'!

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