My dear Ranil, I thought I should write to you as you fight to cling on to your political life, hoping to be the leader of the Green party for as long as you live. For years, I wrote to you as the ‘Green Man’. It is now time to change that because, if you [...]

5th Column

It’s time to let go and look back


My dear Ranil,

I thought I should write to you as you fight to cling on to your political life, hoping to be the leader of the Green party for as long as you live. For years, I wrote to you as the ‘Green Man’. It is now time to change that because, if you are truly a man of the Greens, you won’t be doing what you are doing.

You have frequently preached to us about democracy in our Paradise but there is no democracy within your Green party now. That is why you prevented a vote the other day, so you could remain as the ‘leader’ of the Greens when the vast majority of Green parliamentarians wanted you booted out.

Ranil, the Green Party is not a monarchy like Great Britain and you are not the Queen of England to lead it forever. Nor is it like the ‘pohottuwa’ party where choosing a leader is like playing ‘pass the parcel’ in the Rajapaksa household where it can only be rotated around the members of that family.

If you are true to yourself- and to the millions who kept faith in you for so long- you should look back at your stint as the leader of the Greens. It was a stint longer than anyone who ever led the Greens; longer than Dudley, its most beloved leader and longer even than JR, its most successful leader.

You are now in your twenty-sixth year as the leader of the Greens, Ranil. There is an entire generation in this country who have known no one else but you as the leader of the Greens. During that time, the Blue party, that bastion of the ‘B’ family, had three leaders and even the rathu sahodarayas had two!

More importantly, Ranil, a Green never won a presidential election in that time- the last time they did so was more than thirty years ago when Preme Senior ran the race. They have also never won a general election with a simple, working majority.

Your uncle, JR, chose you as the candidate for Biyagama in ’77. He then handed you a plum job as deputy to All Countries Seen afterwards. You were quite fortunate in your journey thereafter.

Looking back over the last forty plus years, I think it is fair to say that you are lucky to be where you are- and for so long too. You got your big break because your uncle was the boss of the Greens. Since then, you happened to be at the right place at the right time- and that took you almost to the top.

For instance, when Preme was assassinated, Lalith and Gamini, the two giants on whose shoulders the Greens would have rested, had left after their fight with Preme. As much as the one-eyed man is King in the land of the blind, Deaf and Blind became King. You won the consolation prize, becoming PM.

Even when Gamini briefly returned to the Greens, with Dearly Beloved promoting him, luck did not desert you. The Tigers killed him too, propelling you to the top of the Green pack once again. Since then, you have played every trick in the book- and a few out of it too- to stay put as the Green leader.

I don’t know whether you realise it, Ranil, but in that time, the Greens have gone from being a party that the average citizen identified with, to being a party of the ‘tie-coat’ gentry who are insensitive to the sufferings of the less fortunate. What JR and Preme Senior put together; you have put asunder.

Some thought that you were as cunning as the Old Fox, JR. You had your chances, but failed. First, Satellite booted you out in just over two years. Then, your cronies ruined ‘yahapaalanaya’ with the bond scam. Finally, you couldn’t redeem yourself even after Cheerio Sirisena tried to oust you.

Under your watch, the Greens lost election after election. A party which commanded more than forty per cent of the vote at any time is now lucky to get twenty per cent. If not for JR’s PR, the Greens would have been routed at many elections and reduced to a few seats. Yet, you want to carry on.

You tried your best to be the presidential candidate. You gave it to Preme Junior at the eleventh hour. It was the same with the Leader of the Opposition post. Now you want to be leader while most of your MPs want Preme junior. Being an erudite Buddhist, haven’t you heard that nothing is permanent?

We want the Greens to be strong not because we dislike the ‘pohottuwa’ but because we need a strong opposition. When we didn’t have one, during JR’s or Mahinda maama’s times, democracy suffered. The Blues are now part of the ‘pohottuwa’, so if the Greens are weak, we will have a one-party state.

While you have the distinction of being the leader of the Greens for the longest duration, you also have the dubious honour of being the only Green leader who has not been the head of government in Paradise. Surely, Ranil, you must realise that, after all these years, it is now finally time for you to go.

Yours truly,

Punchi Putha

PS- If you don’t give up the leadership, Preme Junior will form his own outfit, like Mahinda maama did. They may not succeed immediately, but they stand a better chance than you do- and you will go down in history as the man who destroyed the Greens.

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