My dear Green Man and the ‘leftover’ Greens, I thought I must write to you when I heard that the Green party ‘celebrated’ their 75th anniversary. There was hardly a noise made about it, except a speech by the Green Man, which was also only an online affair – and you got away by saying [...]

5th Column

Will the grass be greener on the other side of 75?


My dear Green Man and the ‘leftover’ Greens,

I thought I must write to you when I heard that the Green party ‘celebrated’ their 75th anniversary. There was hardly a noise made about it, except a speech by the Green Man, which was also only an online affair – and you got away by saying that there was no ‘celebration’ because of the ‘lockdown’.

I thought that was just as well, Green Man. Even if there was no pandemic and no lockdown, I doubt whether you would have been able to fill the main hall at ‘Sirikotha’ with those who are left in the Green Party, now that most who were once there have joined young Sajith’s ‘Telephone’ party.

That is a sad state for a party that was once the ‘Grand Old Party’ of this country. It is the party which helped us win independence. It was the party founded by DS – the Father of the Nation, and produced much loved leaders like DS and Dudley, and strong leaders like JR and Preme (senior).

Even the statistics tell a grim story. In the first 50 years of your party’s existence, you governed for 31 years of that time. In the next 25 years, all of which was under your leadership, the Greens have governed for just over 7 years – and that too under Blue presidential bosses.

Needless to say, those periods didn’t end very well. In the first instance, Satellite sacked your government half-way through your term. History repeated itself when Maithri, the chap handpicked by you, who came to office with Green votes, also tried to sack you – until the courts intervened.

JR, the ‘Old Fox’, thought the Greens would always be in charge when he changed the system to include a President. Unfortunately for you, his best laid plans have gone awry. The Greens have had only two elected Presidents; your rivals have had four – and you have had none for nearly 30 years!

I am sorry to sound so negative when the Greens are supposedly ‘celebrating’ an anniversary, but the big question on everyone’s minds is, is there anything left to celebrate? The Greens are a shadow of what was once a giant party. If it is of any consolation, the Blues seem to have suffered the same fate.

It must be said that this is not the first time the Greens split. The first split came when SWRD walked out to form his Blue party seven decades ago. You recovered from that. The next split was 40 years later when Lalith and Gamini defected. You recovered from that too when Preme was assassinated.

This time though, it is very different. On the last two occasions, the Greens were the ruling party when it was split. Also, those who split were a minority and most of the party remained. This time, you are in the opposition and a vast majority of your stalwarts have opted to go along with Sajith.

Pardon me, Green Man, it is not that you are not being valued for what you have done over the years. When Preme (senior) was assassinated, you played a major role in keeping the Greens together. When Gamini returned and claimed the mantle of Leader of the Opposition, you gave way gracefully.

When you came to power with Satellite as the boss, you struck a peace deal with the Tigers. You – and the rest of the nation – were taken for a ride by Velupillai who used that time to rearm and regroup. At the time though, you were hailed as a saviour while the country enjoyed peace for a short while.

That decision damaged you politically, Green Man, but Velupillai thought of you as a more cunning opponent than Mahinda maama which is why he encouraged a boycott of the 2005 big election, so he could deal with Mahinda maama instead of you. He backed the wrong horse which was his undoing.

Perhaps your greatest achievement, Green Man, was stalling the ‘R’ bandwagon six years ago with help from people like Satellite, Mangala, Sobhitha hamuduruwo and the rathu sahodarayas. I don’t know whether you really thought Maithri could win. He did, and that put a stop to a dangerous trend.

Unfortunately for you, the Greens and the country, your greatest failure was not to convert that hard earned victory into something more long lasting. With Ravi being more interested in bonds and others not making an attempt to punish previous offenders, you lost the goodwill of the people very soon.

Every country needs an effective opposition. Now, people are paying the price of not having one. Though young Sajith’s ‘telephone’ chaps form the bulk of the opposition, he too has miles to go and many lessons to learn. It is sad that you don’t work with him as well as your uncle and his father did.

I hope you, Green Man, and the Greens left with you will reflect on what went wrong over the past two years so that we have at least a semblance of an opposition, at least when you celebrate 100 years – and I am not sure whether going it alone is the best way to ensure that will happen.

Yours truly,

Punchi Putha

PS: As we mourn dear departed Sunil, I am not sure, Green Man, whether the words of his song suit you or Gota maama better: “Koyi kavuruth baley ganna pora kanney ayi, Baley aran moley nethuwa wedey kanne ai, Wedey kaala ratath kaala balan inney ayi, Lankawe ohoma thamai, I don’t know why”!

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