The Fifth Column

21st September 1997

Heaven, help us

The spirits had all gathered in the land of Never Return because Junius had invited them. They talked of good times and bad...

"Sir" said Lalith, "they seem to have forgotten you already. There was hardly a mention about your birthday in Paradise isle this year..."

"Yes Sir" said Gamini, "but they remembered the Dharmapalas and the Gopallawas..."

"But Lokka," said RP "you were lucky. What I got for my death anniversary was a wicked 'breakdown' programme from what we thought was our own station."

"Ph," said Junius at long last, "don't worry, they won't forget me in such a hurry. Whenever they do something bad and get into trouble, they always remember me and say 'he did worse things..."

"But Sir," asked Gamini, "what do you think was your best legacy to the country?"

"The open economy perhaps?" Lalith suggested.

"Or the Constitution?" RP wanted to know.

Junius shook his head. "The greatest legacy I have left are the lesson in politics..."

The others were puzzled. "Why do you say that Lokka?" RP asked.

"Why", said Junius, "look at what is happening in Paradise now. Satellite has learnt every lesson from me."

"How can you say that?" the others wanted to know.

"First, she's dragging her feet in trying to solve the ethnic problem until her first term of office is over and that is exactly what I did..."

"And, then?"

"And she will never let go of the Executive Presidency, just as much as I never did. That is why she is linking it's abolition to the Package..."

"And, what else, Sir?" Lalith wanted to know.

"Then", said Junius, "this story about the Referendum. When I couldn't retain my two thirds majority in Parliament I used the Referendum. When Satellite can't get the package approved, she is talking of a referendum..."

"That is certainly a leaf out of your book" Gamini agreed.

"And" Junius continued, "do you remember how I promoted police officers for carrying out orders, even when they were reprimanded by the Supreme Court.

"But, Lokka", RP said, 'Satellite has not done anything like that yet.."

"Why not?" Junius asked, "When the Supreme Court reprimanded Chandrananda for detaining your friend Sira, Satellite didn't sack him. Instead, the fine is being paid by government funds..."

"What else has she done, Sir?" Lalith wondered.

"Why, I shifted the parliament to Kotte. Now she's taking her house to Kotte and blaming me for that too, saying she's only doing it because I started the project!"

"But" Gamini argued, "she hasn't obtained undated letters of resignation..."

"Even I did that," Junius retorted, "after six years, so let us wait and see..."

"Then, Lokka, you must be a happy man because Satellite is following all your politics..."

"No" Junius shook his head. "I am very sad about all that, he said.

"Why do you say that?" Gamini wanted to know.

"Because" said Junius sadly, "Satellite is doing everything and more of what I did as President but Ranil is not doing one tenth of what I did as Leader of the Opposition..."

"But Lokka" RP said, "last week he held a Satyagraha in Beliatte..."

"Holding one Satyagraha won't get him back to power" Junius said. But I hope he is at least starting to learn a few tactics.

Neither RP, Lalith nor Gamini disagreed.

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